Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You Get to Have Friends...

...until you change the terms.

That, it would seem, is the theme of the week. It hurts, even when I've made the changes out of self-protection or against my better wisdom.

There are all kinds of ways to lose friends, after all.

Actually, I've lost three friends in the last several months and it should have been a warning of what was already too late: being pals with people you employ or work for.

In the case of A, I asked for an accounting of several hundred dollars I was paying out and got anger and vague answers to my questions. Again, the warning was there when I had, months earlier, put a down payment on the work I would be asking for and suggested starting on something already in place only to be met with friendly silence until my freelancer's regular job wasn't producing the rent. I figured we'd get the project done sooner or later but I got angrier over the claim that accounting for time is impossible until I took my freelancer's inventory* and pretty much made it impossible to be met with anything more than fury.

It happened again last week. After factoring in the need for time to write, my still-fragile ankle (I spent some days in Arizona in sandals. I'm really not ready for sandals.), the temperament of the dog, and the fact that my other steady gig will be moving in June, I decided I would have a somewhat better shot at serenity if I didn't walk that dog for a couple of months. It was one of those brain-waves that sometimes hit in an awkward but correct instant. I wish I'd had it a couple of weeks ago but keeping their interim dog-walker on is probably a good thing for the walker and not the embarrassment ("What will I say to X?" the owner dithered about the walker who had been with them pretty much since December 20th, when I left for Christmas) that my decision was portrayed back to me.

I received a terse email this morning saying that they had changed some plans and would not need me to board the dog in a couple of months. I wrote back that it was fine and "are you angry with me?"

So far no answer.

I had -- how to put this? -- laid down some boundaries that protected my wallet, my body, my time and my serenity**. I'm a nervous wreck when I walk that dog, who has bloodied me several times by entering into battle with other dogs, and who has tried to bloody several humans, not all of whom are over four feet tall.

These are all good reasons, objectively speaking. I would have hoped that A didn't want to rip me off, and B would have simply respected my time and health. Nonetheless, I'm two friends down.

& then there's the ol' When Harry Met Sally crisis. I don't really need to tell the story with that introduction, do I??? The gag here is a day of quarrelsome emails that were based on the fact that I have a dumb crush & Harry does not. Harry felt the best way to deal with my crush was to disavow having inspired it.

No problem there, Harry. I fought it like the flu.

But I still had a crush. And that crush makes certain things really painful. Harry couldn't seem to get past his innocence and I fell into a sink-hole of explaining my explanations. I wondered whether, after all this sturm und drang, I should terminate the flawship. I was angry about trying to save his innocence but still get to claim my feelings. That turned into having my inventory taken (do you feel better now, A?).

  1. I was angry as an attempt at dealing with my feelings.
  2. I was threatening Harry as a sorry attempt to make him feel the way I did.
  3. I am constitutionally bitter and rigid.
  4. Miscellaneous stuff I can't recall because I deleted those emails for good.

The first two were patently incorrect. I was angry at the endless exchange and the claim that because Harry had not promoted my crush, my crush was therefore insignificant. I didn't threaten; I wondered out loud.

As for numbers three and four...I don't know. I don't have an outside perspective on myself. I am in ways, and probably not in other ways. I wonder if the split of these adjectives and their opposites are true of everyone?

I felt like a small pile of ugly dust when I finally begged that the exchange stop.

Here's the amazing thing, though, about me and about serendipity. Having cried myself into a sinus headache, I got a Twitter from someone I'd exchanged a few tweets with. How was I, she asked, and then, email me what's going on. Her perspective helped and I made a new cyber friend out of it.

And later I thought about two things that happened the last time I saw Harry. We'd fallen asleep. He woke me up coming out of a bad dream, moaning to talk himself up to consciousness. Later I woke him up -- laughing in my sleep. And I sneezed once and he laughed because my sneeze actually does come out as an achoo. "It's part of my adorability factor," I retorted.

So I'm left pondering, can I be friends with someone I had a crush on (Harry pretty much tortured the active part of it out of me, as though I'm no longer contagious), who couldn't sit still while I worked through feelings I was honest about, and finds me bitter and rigid (a combination I would run from in someone else).

And who wouldn't find laughing in her sleep and achooing charming as hell? I do, at any rate.

So I'm down three friends, up one, and I like two teeny things about myself that I hadn't even known about before. Who's winning? Who's hurting?

* In twelve step parlance, taking someone else's inventory -- i.e., telling that person what is wrong with him or her -- is a crime punishable by righteous indignation.

** As in, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


Vickie said...

I love the whole thing together:

God grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.
--Reinhold Niebuhr

And my 20 year old son has decided NO - if the object of the crush does not return the feelings - move on in mind, word and deed - otherwise it just never resolves itself.

And I struggle with the imperfections of others. It seems like if I am making good decisions for me - it would be nice if everyone else could have 'ordered thinking' and cooperate.

Unknown said...

Hmmm. Also vote NO on the crush. I mean, if he's got a sense of humor and can see you're over it then hanging out and offering each other dating advice and friendship IS an option. Harry sounds like a self-centered, selfish, immature hardass, better to be away from completely. Also? If he made you feel bad and made you feel defensive for admitting your crush, why would you WANT to be friends with him and keep him around?

Unlike Vickie there, I'm struggling with people struggling with MY imperfections. I've embraced the big beautiful flawed ball of cute that I am -- why can't they??

April said...

This sounds like high school and I HATED high school.

Friends, the real kind, don't leave you twisting in the wind feeling like crap... no matter what you've confessed. A few years ago I had a similar experience, in that someone I cared deeply for (probably loved, truth be told) did not return my affections. However, when I professed my feelings, this person did not get defensive, did not try to deny anything (especially my right to have my feelings), but instead honestly and directly laid out the limits of our relationship. We are good friends to this day because of it. Occasionally I still long for more, but I keep it to myself and cherish the friendship that I do have instead of grieving the more intimate relationship that wasn't meant to be.

Find yourself a real friend and be honest... and expect the same in return... and things should be better.

E. Jane said...


Thank you for sharing such a sensitive topic. You have been through a lot this past year, and perhaps the "crush" is a way of seeking support and diversion at a difficult time. Nevertheless, the crush sounds like something that was not meant to be, and that's OK. There will be better days ahead for you and you will find people who appreciate all you have to offer.

I have been following your blog for some time and have recently gone back into a 12-step program with new commitment and understanding. Phone meetings and face-to-face meetings have been very inspiring. My best to you...may you always have peace, health, friendship, and love.

Vickie said...

Darling Frances (that is how I always think of you) you made me cry in a very good way. thank you.