Friday, 12 March 2010

Fountains, streams and drains...

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives
For a reason, bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them and we help them in return...”

This is a snippet from my most favourite song from the absolutely amazing musical Wicked written by Stephen Schwartz.

Every time I listen to it I start thinking about the various friendships I have in my life.

Along the same lines, a friend of mine shared a lovely theory with me yesterday; she calls her theory Fountains, streams and drains…

I was so intrigued by the name that I dug deeper to find out more.

The theory concerns the type of people who come into our lives and how they may all have a different purpose or outcome.

These are the people who you may meet as you meander through life. They may be nice, they may be not. They drop into your life, they drop out of your life. They play very little role in your life and they can disappear as quickly as they appear.

Fountains are, perhaps, a less common find. These are the people who come into our lives and make a real impact. They bring the positive elements of life along with their friendship: happiness, love, true friendship. These are the friends we treasure, those we can rely on and are happy to have them rely on us.

Then comes the darker side of friendship - the drains. These are the people who literally drain you. They sap you of all things good, they suck out the very core of your positivity and feed on your energy.

As a general rule I think the majority of us manage to suss out the drains in life and steer clear of them. At least, that's what everyone else seems to manage to do.

Ever since I was a teenager, I just seem to have been a bit of a drain magnet. Don't get me wrong, I've also dipped my toe into the occasional refreshing stream (in a non-sexual way, you understand *blushes*) and I've even stumbled across the odd fountain: captivating and hypnotic in their beauty. But why is it that I seem to have unsuspectingly welcomed more than my fair share of drains into my life too?

On more than one occassion I've supported friends, cheered them along, been a shoulder to cry on, provided help and, where specifically asked, advice. So why is it then, that when my life has taken a turn for the less pleasant, these friends have magically disappeared (perhaps back down into their own drainage systems) as if they have nothing to give in return?

I want to press the point here that I am not the kind of person who gives to receive, but I truly thought I could rely on these people to stand beside me should the going get tough.

Something like this has happened to me quite recently. A friend who I thought was as interested in me as I always had been in her has just turned into the biggest drain on my life imaginable. I hate the fact that this has happened, but it has and now I struggle to handle it. I have to keep her at arms length now because she is the last person I would ever turn to in a crisis and yet she's still there, waiting just around the corner to jump on me and drain me of what positive energy I may have left to give to her.

It's so tiring.

So what do I do about it?

I guess it's part of growing up, to realise that you can't just keep investing in friendships that drain you in this way. Friendships like this have to be put down and left to drain away themselves. It's not healthy to hang on to them.

So I've made a decision to not let it bother me anymore. I now treat my most recent drain as though she were a stream. Sometimes she meanders into my life and I treat her just as a stream. I've built an emotional dam to stop her draining any more of my energy and I just try to enjoy spending time with her - no draining allowed.

Is there room for transition in this theory? I believe there is. A stream can become a fountain and a fountain can become a drain. I have never yet had the experience of a drain becoming anything other than a well-managed drain, which always leaves me feeling sad.

But then, I just have to remember the array of fountains that I have around me. Some have always been there (sometimes unnoticed) and some are new to my life.

I know I'm a lucky lady.

"It may well be, that we will never meet again
In this lifetime, so let me say before we part
So much of me, is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me, like a hand print on my heart.

"And now whatever way our story ends
I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend."

These words are for all my fountains - you know who you are x

Song lyrics from 'For Good' from the 'Wicked the Musical' by Stephen Schwartz

Photo credits: