Dear Vicki: I need help with my best friend who has really changed. Tammy and I have been close since grade school, but things are really different since she got married. She used to be a real carefree kind of girl, but when she started dating Fred, that changed. They just got married (I thought it was too soon, we’re all only 19), but they say they’re in love. Anyway, Fred is a super-serious person (personally, I think he’s a boring, demanding snob) and I’m afraid he’s changing Tammy. She’s withdrawn from me and seems cold and critical. I’ve only been invited over to their new apartment once. The Five Elements model is new to me (my mom shared it with me), but since Tammy is a great artist (and sometimes moody), maybe she’s a Water? Mom says I’m an Earth. Can you help me get my best friend back? Signed: Lonely in Louisiana
Dear Lonely:The transition from childhood to adulthood is rarely easy. I agree with you that 19 years old seems young to make the serious commitment of marriage, but I know dozens of couples that married young and grew old together. I also know many young couples that were unable to make marriage work and simply grew apart as they continued growing up. It’s understandable that you will feel “displaced” as Tammy’s closest connection now that she’s married; that is also part of growing up. However, if we are wise, we don’t replace people in our life when we marry, we make room for more. Hopefully, Tammy will learn this, but until then I do think there is something specific you can do to try to re-establish your connection with Tammy, who does sound like a Water person.
When we marry, we combine our energies with the energies of our new spouse. That means that Tammy’s Water is constantly in touch with Fred’s Metal. The good news for Tammy is that she and Fred relate on the Nurturing Cycle, with Fred’s Metal feeding Tammy’s Water. That probably feels pretty good to her and might be one aspect of her attraction to him. Interestingly, you and Fred also relate on the Nurturing Cycle, but it is your Earth that feeds his Metal, which could feel like a drag to you and be a reason you find him demanding. Another reason he might bother you – other than the fact that you feel he has come between you and your best friend – is that out of balance Metals can seem snobby and controlling, especially if they are in an excess energy place. Too much energy makes Metals inflexible and dismissive. How Tammy handles that is between her and Fred, but let’s look at what you can do to reconnect with Tammy.
What I suspect is happening for Tammy is that Fred’s abundance of Metal energy is feeding her Water and creating an excess Water condition for her. Waters with too much energy can be intolerant. And because Waters inherently lack structure, they can get into trouble with too much energy. It can cause Waters to sink beneath the weight of it all and withdraw. It can also cause them to flow all over the place with no boundaries in sight. It’s an interesting fact that whenever we’re out of balance, we instinctively try to balance ourselves. And for a Water with too much energy and no structure, the best way they have to create structure is to freeze. Frozen water – ice – definitely has structure. This could be what’s happening for Tammy; she’s trying to bring some structure to an overwhelming situation.
The good news is that you are the perfect person to help Tammy. When an element has too much energy we look to the Controlling Cycle. What controls Water? It’s Earth. An earthen riverbank is what holds and guides a river. So your Earth energy is exactly what Tammy needs now. But how do you bring your much-needed Earth to her if she has frozen you out? I’d like to suggest several ways that should feel nature to both you and Tammy. First, you mention that you’ve only been to her new apartment once. How about purchasing something small that would fit into her place and taking it over as a house-warming gift? Ideally, you will select something that builds Earth energy but also controls Fred’s Metal. A candle comes to mind since Fire both feeds Earth and controls Metal. It is also something that Tammy and Fred could truly enjoy. Then, while you are there, you might share with Tammy how much you’ve missed her and ask if you can have lunch together sometime. Food also builds Earth. Finally, if Tammy has a favorite food, you might nurture her with some of it. Baking her cookies would be perfect. Sweets in moderation balance Earth.
It doesn’t always come naturally to Earths to insert themselves into a situation where they don’t feel wanted, but Earths are great at coming to the aide of someone in need. If you can view your interactions with Tammy as helping her, I think it will be easy for you to reach out to her. But do this gently, you don’t want to smother Tammy; Waters still need their alone time. The end result of your caring actions will most likely be that the iceberg Tammy has been to you will gradually start to soften and show signs of life. Blessings to you for being such a good friend!