delicate issue, thoughts welcome(7 Posts)
Hello. I am a 42 year old male. I've tried to join a few groups this morning to ask about this and am hoping this can go well here. Something happened recently with a female friend which I feel I dealt with disappointingly and which I want to be better prepared for. I've known the friend a year, but only a few months with any closeness.
I was out with my female friend and her two daughters. (It's platonic, although I had breifly tried to make it a romantic relationship but was keen to go on as friends when she declined my suggestions. I'm fine with this overall. I wouldn't abandon her.) It was a long day, essentially a seven hour picnic although with entertainment on in the background. My friend is younger by several years and is a survivor of several abusive and violent relationships. She has some health issues which may be pre-exisiting or may have a psychogenic component. On this occasion near the end of the day my friend had a borderline public case of diorrhoea. That is, although we were caught out, away from facilities, but were able to move to where she was initially able to be out of sight, a group of ten or so young teenagers appeared to be coming our way, on the way to where they were going. Some of the boys stopped and looked and seemed amused and the older daughter called for them to go away and was racially abusive (it was a group of mixed ethnic groups in fact). I was sort of frozen, which I'm ashamed about, though additionally I didn't want to compound the racial nature of the antagonism from our perceived side. I was sort of willing them to just walk on and I hoped that without antagonism they would as some of their group did. Some of them dispersed, maybe brought up better than the piggish ones who were amused. After a little bit too long I began to walk towards them thinking I would just 'wing it', I didn't know what to say or what would happen but self-loathing had made me belatedly active. "Come on now lads, she's not well, imagine that was your mum or your sister," I thought I'd say, or something like that. They all dispersed then anyway, though not in reaction to my approach I think.
I feel like the daughters, always friendly and seemingly happy that her mum has someone coming round, are probably angry with me or disappointed now and may have expected me to shout and get violent and to have been quicker. They live on a rough estate where some shocking and repugnant stuff has happened and although I don't want to excuse myself primarily it is because I am dithering in my efforts to be unlike many men including my dad and the men on my friend's estate that I'm stumped in situations of comfrontation. I go for years with little or no company and am not prepared for this sort of nonsense when it happens.
I like the friend very much, I feel for her knowing her history and current struggles, and am glad to know her and her daughters and want them to understand me back, and have thought about trying to have a big chat with them without trying to seem like a replacement for the dad they didn't grow up with. I think my friend needs someone like me, as useless as I was in this incident, because I'm not arrogant, we can talk and she has had a lot of unhealthy friendships to the extent that except for brief chats with mums I am her one current visiting friend.
I do know that I didn't do enough and that I may be better placed to another time as a result of some constructive stewing. I want to ask the friend if we can do anything to be better prepared for if the dietary issue recurs in the same way.
I want to know good or bad what people think here. I'm not after absolution and I know many people would say I'm a nerd or a loser or weak and useless, or even 'emasculated'. I'm not going to take self-defence classes or be an aggressor and I would rather be murdered in the act of civilly trying to do better in this sort of situation than act like an ape. There is an authentic, civilised path somewhere and somehow without any Iron John or MRA nonsense. Many thanks.
I can't imagine that many people would have dealt with things much differently tbh, other than to perhaps address the racist language that your friends DD was using - I realise that she was upset btw.
DH is confrontational and used to dealing with teens so probably would have gone and had a few words, personally I would rather he didn't, but I can imagine him feeling he had to do something in that situation.
You tried to defuse the situation rather than exacerbate it. That is the adult thing to do rather than the juvenile pushing and shoving method. It's the adult thing because your ego was not front and centre of this situation - your priorities were preventing your friend from even more embarrassment, preventing a comment from a child lighting the racial tinderbox, and preventing a nasty situation getting physical.
It's very immature to put your self image and ego before the real considerations, it's unsurprising that your friends daughter saw it in those terms, but it's not something to take to heart, imo, hopefully she will learn. Though we know some people never do, and equate strength with punches when self control, perspective, and a genuine concern for other people are signs of a much more admirable and strong person.
Sounds like a horrible situation, I don't know what the right thing to do was, but I know getting all aggressive for ego reasons is the most selfish option and would have done nothing to help your friend.
That is very nice of you both and thank you very much. Thanks for also making me, a terminal uncle, feel welcome. I would maintain that I didn't act, or rather begin to act, soon enough but I do value the supportive perceptions.
Regarding the racist language, which I don't want to play down, dealing with this is something in progress. I'm not excusing them, because the mother and daughters use the words casually and it has upset and depressed me - I hadn't expected it. The words are used in a slang manner, like 'pommie' or 'limey' are, and in fact day-to-day, face-to-face they aren't prejudiced and I was gobsmacked seeing my friend talk in a lovely fashion to a Latvian family with limited English last week. I think they're fearful and sloppy in the heat of the moment and fall back on a previous generation's scapegoating but I do hope to have some influence (speaking recently about new knowledge of my unexpected origins) and have genuinely seen this start to work.
More is welcome.
Hi there - you did the right thing. The kids were being silly and you spoke to them assertively and not aggressively. Aggression wouldn't have helped. As for the racist remarks, I would say nothing as it is up to your friend to tell her kids about prejudice etc.
I've had semi public diarrhoea too - there's not much one can do except scurry off somewhere hidden and hope for the best.
Thanks. To be clear, I did not get as far as saying anything. The words in quotes are what I was nervously formulating as I made my too-late approach.
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