Thursday, April 8, 2010

Exceptionally vague

So, there are two people I know, one a former friend and the other is someone I met because of the first person. Let's call them R and D. It's been at least 18 months since I started pulling away from R. In virtually every interaction, I noticed a distinct inability to step away from R's worldview and countenance other people's feelings. At first I thought it was me--because, well, isn't that how we're trained?

The first crack, admittedly, began as hearsay from another friend (J) who told me some stories about working with (for) R that...relit the painting. It was like suddenly seeing the young woman in this picture when before all you've seen is the old woman. Or, perhaps more symbolically, the other way around. But I'm always leery of hearsay, and cracks can be mended.

About this time, R asked me for a job recommendation, which I was happy to provide. I never received a thank you, even though I spent a great deal of time figuring out how to finesse some details about how to write a recommendation for someone with whom I'd worked only about 6 hours total over the time we'd known each other. The lack of an expression of gratitude sort of annoyed me, but then friends do annoy each other sometimes, right?

Meanwhile, the relationship between R and D was growing and seemed to be thriving. I didn't know D well, having had a total of one conversation in strained circumstances. But I got the sense of a deep, kind, smart and intelligent person, someone it would be fun and interesting to get to know better. Because they both seemed happy, I was happy for them.

The crack widened almost imperceptibly when R--who is proud to be at least agnostic--made a very snide, very rude generalized remark about my religion in a discussion about the Religious Right. Yes, I'm a Christian, and the nutcases drive me crazy, but this comment was a bit like having a stranger slug your little sister. When I gently suggested that perhaps R might be over-reacting, I was ignored. Even when I addressed it online rather pointedly, my point of view was not addressed. No apology, no reaction, no private conversation, just...nothing.

Two weeks later, R asked me to pray for a friend who had just had a pretty horrible tragedy befall her and was grieving a desperate loss. Go back and read that: R asked me to pray. Here's (part of) the email:
You know I don't do God. ...If you would add [friend] to your thoughts and prayers, I would appreciate it, and so would she. ...

It feels pretty odd to ask someone else to pray for a friend, when I'm not sure I think it means anything, but I know it would mean something to [the friend], and all that goodwill can't be bad, no matter what you believe, right?

The time stamps says it all: it took me 90 minutes to reply in toto:
I forwarded the basics to our prayer chain and will add the whole family to my list as well. Keep me posted, eh?
So much of my original email was deleted in that final response. I nearly didn't reply at all. I was...stunned. But I did pray, not just for R's friend, but for understanding and clarity for myself. There was, by the way, no follow up regarding R's friend, the prayer, the situation I had been told about...nothing. [which actually was fine, since I gave up tying my prayers to concrete long ago]

A few more conversations, a few more cracks. Then a huge blowup that I know was more about other stuff than the subject over which I blew. Ostensibly, it was judging people by how they speak, but it was (again) very generalized, very mean-spirited, and when I called R on it--because yes, I'll admit I can be thin-skinned over living my whole life in Flyover Country--I got a lot of justification and blah-blah, along with insistence on me being overly sensitive. Not even a hint of "I didn't say what I meant to say very well" from R.

Soon thereafter, I stopped reading online messages from R. And then months later, R friended me on Facebook. And I got the sense that there was some friction between R and D, whom I checked in with periodically but definitely more as a "Friend of R" than as "friend of D." D and I were NOT friends on Facebook. Boundaries.

Two months later, the pattern continuing to escalate, I did the Unfriend thing. Within a week, I got a message asking to "Add R to Your Friends", which I left sit for awhile and eventually confirmed. Within a week those status updates were upsetting me so much that I went back to Unfriend. Which is where we stand now.

Five or six months ago, I started reading R's "private" blog again because it is absolutely hysterically funny. Not intentionally; in fact, from the outside it's pretty pathetic. Which is why it's funny. {meow} I also started reading D's blog to get another point of view, change the lighting of the picture again.

And what a picture it has become. -->

I do not like it when people are malicious to one another. I also do not like prevarication and splitting hairs. I am the first to say that Bill Clinton, in his definitive statement, "I did NOT have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky!" was lying. Much like Justice Potter Stewart, I may not be able to define certain things, but I know what they are when I see them. And one other cliché: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is, most likely, a duck.

For my part--and a very small part of the drama I am!--I know that allowing R to continue to upset me was/is not healthy. I am slowly learning to remove unhealthy things from my life, so R is gone except in terms of sideshow. The good things R has brought me are many, and I appreciate all of them--R does manage to be surrounded by good things and some exceptional people, which is a little confusing--but possibly the greatest joy is having met D, who was kind and generous with my son at a time when it would have been easier and perfectly acceptable to blow Sparky off completely. For that alone, and for doing it without awareness or expectation of anything from me, D has earned a large portion of friendship.

I like people who don't do things because they "should" but because those things are the right things to do. D is someone like that. R, as I have found out, does things strategically. While I am not willing to say that's always wrong, it's not the way I operate and I don't easily trust people who live their lives always thinking how best to maneuver and control the people and situations around them, both ahead of time and after events have occurred.

Now that I've written all this down, I hope it means I can sleep tonight. Today has been filled with disturbing events and lots of hurtful words and thoughts about R and D and all those in similar situations.

2 thing(s) to say:

molly said...

I hope you slept better because of getting this out. I don't like the "calculators" and "manipulators", either, although I know I have a lot of that in me. I think there are some people, and I hope I am one of them, who feel a real need to do some of the things they consider to be right.
I sympathize with your pain, and I hope you can be more successful in ignoring people who upset you. That is a wish I wish for me, as well. I myself have real trouble with the boss-of-you people. Got any solution for that kind of behavior that doesn't send the bp over the chimney?

Cat. said...

I slept just fine (being exhausted helps!)--the sleep of the wicked? I'm related to so many Boss-of-You people that I'm become adept at suppressing the annoyance.

I know I have some of that calculation in me. We all do, certainly after we reach adulthood, just to get by. But I never want to become so manipulative that I do things only to move myself forward at the expense of others. And, believe me Molly, I don't have the slightest hint that you are selfish enough to put yourself first all the time!

My real concern is all the pain this situation is causing other people not in the epicenter. I should be asking *you* for tips on the BP thing: you seem to have it more together than I do in making serious attempts to create calm in your life. Which inspires me to do the same.

As another friend of mine used to say regularly: In with the good air; out with the freaked-out air!

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