Monday, February 10, 2014
Word of the Day: CONSEQUENCES
Word of the day:
This hasn't been my best week. Maybe it's the phase of the moon, or something, but I have been feeling "marginalized," if that's the correct word. It sounds sort of ridiculous to say that different people in my life have made it clear that they believe they matter more than I do. Should I say they want the upper hand, they want the power in the relationship? That sounds so academic, but I don't know how else to describe how it makes me feel.
The first instance was a repeat performance of a conversation that has taken place at least four times in the past two years between me and someone I have known for more than fifteen years. We met in New Jersey when I owned a small consignment shop around the corner from her house. She made a habit of coming by the store several times a week to pour her heart out about her abusive husband. Eventually she divorced the abusive husband and began a relationship with another man.
Fourteen years ago, we moved from New Jersey to Arizona where our son and his family lived. Our elder daughter and her young son moved with us. Later on, the younger daughter with her husband and two babies joined the rest of us. I am sure that my friend is right when she says I encouraged her to move to Arizona. I was very happy with our brand-new house, my little grandchildren, and my job at the community college. My enthusiasm must have been contagious.
After a failed attempt to relocate to Florida, she and her partner visited Arizona, liked it, bought a house 40 minutes from us, and went home to pack. I had no idea what she was expecting when she made these decisions.
Now it is 14 years later, and I have gone from being 58 to being 72. My husband and I have both retired and are living on a greatly-reduced income, and we now baby-sit 4 days a week.
I called my one-time friend the other day to check in and see how she was doing. The partner she was with dumped her in a suburb miles away from anything, moved her two sons out to live with her, went back to Jersey and has been lying to her for the past 8 years. She made some really bad decisions because she believed his lies, and is now facing, guess what? - the CONSEQUENCES.
So, I called to say Hi. After a few minutes, she announced in a flat voice, "I don't want to talk to you on the telephone." This was after announcing a few weeks ago that she "doesn't do email and doesn't know how to text," so don't do that either. She wants only face-to-face encounters. She made it clear that she doesn't need another “acquaintance.” She wants a "more intimate" relationship, like the one we had in New Jersey. She remembers these heart-to-heart talks, visiting over tea and cookies, and the one time she was invited to my grandson’s birthday party. She tells me that she thought she was moving to Arizona to be “near her best friend.” That things have not turned out the way she imagined is just life, isn’t it?
Now, I know what you're thinking. Why should I get upset by someone basically saying she wants to see me more often? Do people understand that if you want someone to like spending time with you, you have to have something to offer? Both people should feel better after being together, not drained and glad to be leaving, which is how I always feel after being with her. She is so negative, and has nothing to talk about except her latest catastrophe, her ungrateful kids, the man who betrayed her, and her failing business. She is jealous of the time I spend with my family, because her two sons have no social life and never spend time with her. Hummm? Wonder why? She claims she is alone. She's not. She has her two children (30 and 23) living with her. And even if she were alone, how is that my responsibility?
I finally ended up hanging up on her because the attack just wouldn't stop. I find it difficult to tell her the truth - that she is a lot of work! She drains every ounce of energy from me. I told her that I thought she has Asperger’s Syndrome (which would explain why it’s so frustrating for everyone to deal with her) which she wouldn’t even consider. Just went back to the old refrain - basically, I am not a “good enough” friend.
All I expect from people is the recognition that there are consequences from our behavior. If she wants to be mean to me, attack me, and tell me how disappointed she is in me, there are consequences. She expects the world to operate on her terms, or else what? She will just see her world shrink smaller and smaller because she won't adapt. Consequences.