You should just sit down and write what’s on your heart, some say; today I’m going to do just that. I’m feeling sad as I consider a friend who dumped me from her life a month ago. So if you’re willing to “grieve with those who grieve,” I’ll write about it.
She’s actually a relative I met in ‘98 when we moved to Saskatoon. She was friendly; we hit it off and had many good visits when Bob and I still lived in the city. It’s amazing how many likes and dislikes we have in common; family genetics is a definite factor in this.
She’s not had an easy life. I’ve listened to her stories and frustrations about her cruel father, her two ex-husbands, her children, the various men in her life. At least four men friends have come and gone in the years I’ve known her.
I’ve observed that my friend keeps a balance sheet of sorts; she records incidents that bug her and weighs them against her gains of associating with someone. Usually the negatives build up in time until she severs contact with the person. I’ve listened to her contemplations as she decided to dump each boyfriend; now I’m probably on the receiving end of this, my behaviour’s slipped into the red.
One thing my friend and I never had in common: I’ve found the Lord and become a Christian whereas she never heard about religion in her youth and now refuses to believe anything she can’t see. If God would show Himself to her, then she’d believe. Consequently we take opposite approaches to difficulties in life and with people.
Not believing in anything higher than her own understanding, she lacks the sense of values a lot of folks have. People should be honest with her, but she can lie to avoid conflict. “I didn’t want to have to answer a bunch of questions, so I just said….” But you reap the fruit of that attitude: nowadays she’s always afraid people are lying to her or cheating her.
I’ve spoke to her about forgiveness… and in particular, forgiving her daughters. She says she never forgives a wrong, never has, never will. One day I told her I felt she was at fault, too, in the trouble with her daughters, that her attitude toward them was very poor.
If they called she was annoyed. “They didn’t call when such and such happened so why are they calling now.” If they didn’t call, that was another thing to hold against them. So I asked her, “Have you called them?”
“No, I never call them. Why should I? I’m their mother; they should be calling me.”
She got upset with me that day and wouldn’t communicate for about a month. But she is what sociologists call “functionally illiterate.” Bank statements, bills, contracts, sales slips: she’s brought them to me and had me figure things out. Concepts like health, nutrition, drugs and their use, all need to be explained.
I got a laugh one day when she told me her doctor had said she was borderline diabetic. “But how can a person be ‘borderline’ diabetic?” she asked, somewhat annoyed at that dumb doctor. “I figure it’s like being pregnant; either you are or you aren’t.”
I managed to keep a straight face and explained that it’s is more like a well: there’s so and so much water in it. When the water is almost gone the bottom is muddy. That’s borderline. When there’s no trace of water then we say it’s completely dry. The pancreas produces so and so much insulin; when it’s running out someone’s on the borderline of diabetes.
She’s now almost 80 and her memory is failing. This past year she’s misplaced things, then is convinced that they are stolen. “Someone with a key” is coming into her apartment and taking things or moving stuff around. She’s convinced that “Someone” is watching her on (closed-circuit) camera to see when she goes out, then they come in. Consequently she’s been hiding her precious things in suitcases so they won’t be stolen.
She bought a motion sensor camera to catch the culprit but, though it’s been set up for almost a year and it’s set to take a picture every minute, she has no pictures of anyone misbehaving. So I don’t really know what to make of her “Someone’s coming in when I’m not home” theory. Maybe that’s been the problem: I’ve been too unsupportive? I feel most folks have more to do with their lives than sit and watch her on camera all day.
I’ve tried to be a useful friend. I’ve hurried to the city several times to help her find important “lost or stolen” valuables thankfully they’ve always turned up. I’ve helped her replace credit cards when she’s lost them. I’ve tried to be patient and be there (if I could) when she needed help or transportation, even though it means an hour-long trip for me nowadays.
She became convinced she needed a better camera, so on April 2nd I went with her to buy one that takes a constant “movie” of the area and you can play it back later. She was going to set it up and catch the culprit for sure. And I haven’t heard a word from her since that day.
I’ve left a couple of messages, but she doesn’t return my calls. Have I just said too many wrong things over the years and my balance is in the red? Or is there one particular statement she resents? The last time we were together I told her she should put things back where they belong and try to live a normal life in spite of the intruder; she was losing as much stuff by hiding it as “someone” was moving around. Only small things have gone missing; never anything of value.
I believe if she actually caught the intruder on camera she’d be telling me about it, so maybe she’s never caught anyone and doesn’t want to admit it because I haven’t been as sympathetic as she hoped I’d be?
Also, the last time we were together I told her about various activities I had coming up, including a book to finish, and she said, “You have too many irons in the fire.” Is she just giving me a break? Will I ever find out?
Last year I posted an article on this blog* about my father and his tendency to run away rather than discussing conflicts or just plain forgiving someone. Now I’m the recipient of this same behaviour from my friend. Like my dad she tends to avoid conflict and will cut off all contact rather than talk about it.
I worry about her because I know she isn’t capable of managing on her own. Also I hate to leave things like this. So I’ll share the problem with you and you can say a prayer that this rift will be mended, that I’ll have wisdom to know how to handle this and show kindness in my relationship with my friend. God knows, I haven’t been a perfect friend, either.
But my friend really doesn’t understand the long-term consequences, that you finally run into a dark alley where you’re totally alone – and furious because everyone has abandoned you.