As with the seasons of this earth, our lives go through seasons (or phases). It is our hope that many will be joyous; but each season, or phase, is a learning experience and, should we choose, it is those phases (good and bad) that add to the strength, color and texture of our character. These past several months, I’ve been going through a phase that I never wanted to go through and yet I have accepted the journey one step at a time. I have a loved one who is very ill; all is touch and go and we don’t know from day-to-day how this will resolve. She has so many friends, all of whom support and love her, yet she feels as though her life is unfulfilled. Not that her friendships, in and of themselves, are not fulfilling, but that she doesn’t measure up to the same level of those with whom she has befriended [I know, crazy!]. She has people who are at her side, spiritually and physically, on a moments notice. She has love, not caddiness; but love and support enveloping her.
In my recent journey I am realizing that those who I thought would be by my side, holding me up in support; most of them have vanished. The people who at one point in my life I found myself flying to their rescue on a moments notice, I now find that when the tables have turned, I stand alone. So, in phases such as this, you truly know who your friends are. This makes things very complicated in my mind because I love these individuals and guess I always will; however, I can’t help but feel what I feel and that is forgotten (left). Even my family, family that I thought were second siblings are glaringly absent. My niece and nephew; absent. If you will remember, we shared words back when they were here for Christmas; but that was my fault, not Kimball’s. Now I can understand their being upset with ME, but this is their aunt who is ill and who is scared; who knows what will happen? Never in a million years would our mother have ever thought this possible.
So, as I sit in reflection during this time and knowing that we can’t change the past we can only learn from it, I can’t help but ask the question; why is this happening? The first answer that came to mind was that when it comes to catastrophic situations, most people just don’t know what to do or how to act. And to them I say, just be…because the most important thing is that you are there with those that need you. Nobody is demanding you to pull any tricks out of your pocket or entertain or even cure. Just understand that you are in their life for a reason, and that they love you for a reason; and that reason? Is just because.
With this realization, one can’t help but take the actions (or lack there of) very personally, forcing the questions of “what did I do?” Or, “what didn’t I do?” and “why can’t they love me?” And as these thoughts of unworthiness rushed through my head yet again, I was immediately reminded of my ‘ah ha’ moment; that realization I had about my father’s death and its correlation with my lack of self-worth. It was that whole feeling of ‘what did I do wrong?’ “I’m not likable or lovable”, these feelings are all coming up again. Actually, there’s a slew of feelings coming up for me at this time. But one thing I know is this, the “I’m not enough” syndrome has very little to do with me and to quote a friend of mine, “perhaps I am not the one with the problem.”
“Loyal to a fault”, that is me… I stayed in a marriage because I felt it was my duty; understanding that he didn’t love me the way he had when we started and certainly never showed it. Even so, I felt I should stay wondering, “who would take care of him?” Or “what would ever happen to him?” And you know something? He’s fine… he has stepped up to the plate and is now working and figuring out his life for himself. Still, I stayed way longer than I should have and, because of that, jeopardized his chance for happiness, not to mention mine. All because I couldn’t move on for fear of losing his friendship, for fear of being alone (after all, who would want me?).
The same goes for my friendships. I’m so afraid of losing them that I’ll put up with anything. Even when I overhear my best friend talking about me to another one of her friends with such shame (someone who she hasn’t known nearly as long and talks to me, about them with disdain). And with my friend, knowing my situation and knowing how difficult things were (not to mention what I’ve done for her in the past), I (my friendship) was still ‘not enough’ to elude her harsh gossip. I don’t know, I have to question, how much will/should I put up with? I hold secrets and never betray only to find myself betrayed and abandoned. Abandoned not so much for what is happening now but by the fact that my friendship doesn’t mean as much to her as hers does to me. With all we have been through… all that I’ve held in my heart. It’s still not enough.
Perhaps I’m asking too much. But this was true throughout my life and was true of another friend of mine with whom I’ve been friends since we were babies. She has always had an excuse of some sort to not come north. Never made it to my wedding and has never met my husband (now ex). She is always promising, but never comes through and has always kept me at arm’s length. Remembering back, she placed others who she felt were in the higher social circle, as more important. Others who would inevitably betray her and who she told me she felt were better than her, were who she considered her best friends. However, it was me that she confided in though I was not among the popular folks, I was good enough for her to have my ear just not enough for me to have her friendship/love.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t reached out to these individuals and talk about this; I have. But why bother now when I know the response. Responses like, “what do you mean? We’re fine. I wouldn’t do that…” Which leads me to my next ‘ah ha’. During my times of strife I’m told “Ann, you must ask for help.” “Why didn’t you call me?” To this I answer; is it any wonder that I don’t ask for help? I’ve been riddled with people (family and friends) who have disappointed at every turn. When I’ve asked for help or a visit, if for nothing more than the simple reason that I needed them, so often they would be busy. And if they did say yes, it would be only to back out later. Or, should somebody choose to spend time with me for whatever reason (concern, fun), the truth would inevitably rear its ugly head to show that it was because their plans canceled with their #1 choice or, worse yet, there was an agenda.
Case in point. I was going through a really rough time and wanting to go to my girlfriends cabin; nature and trees seemed to be what the doctor ordered. But, she was really busy with her rentals, etc… Suddenly out of the blue in October she texts me, “Get your butt down here! I finally have a break.” And thinking this was coming from a genuine concern for me and a genuine desire to spend time with me, I made the arrangements for my sister who had just had open heart surgery, and drove down. I arrived to my girlfriend’s cabin only to find out the friend she originally wanted to spend time with pulled a no-show. Alright… so I’m more of an “after thought” than an anticipated visitor, ouch. Then I find out that they are getting all new furniture for the upstairs. Wow, cool! Then the truth started popping its head… There was a spot next to the bed upstairs that I put there two years earlier on New Years (yes… that kind of spot). I don’t think I was there an hour and the spot was brought up… “we decided to dye the carpet, what do you think?” But, I could tell by the way she kept talking about the room, carpet, cleaning… She really felt that I should pay for it (that or her husband put her up to it, or both). Honestly? Had I had the money? I would have paid, gladly. (I’m on limited, very limited income and besides… I’m not the one purchasing all new furniture and a bathroom vanity w/ sink) Regardless, instead of hinting, we’ve known each other for so long, couldn’t she come to me directly? (she didn’t have to beat around the bush and mysteriously take the rug that was covering the stain away so as to give me the added thrill of sleeping next to it to serve as a ‘reminder’) Now she and I have known each other for close to thirty years and I’m still pretty hurt about that weekend, much more than I thought and she is willing, after years of proof to my loyalty, to make issue without discussing anything with me? I realize that she has a great deal of stuff to handle with her and her husband’s family, some quite serious. And while I’ve asked repeatedly to help, my requests fell on deaf ears – no interest…I guess to make room for those new (more established) friends to enter in. One would think that in close to 30 years, we would have communication at least. But, like a marriage, I guess friends just grow apart. I mourn my friend and will for some time.
So what does all this say about me? What is it that I’ve done in my life to have caused such behavior? They say that you should not focus on those that are NOT supportive and to instead focus on those that ARE along with the blessing they bring. This is my new meditation. Everyday I count the blessings. Because, just as I was sorely disappointed, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised. My ex-husband for instance. Immediately, he responded with the “how can I help?” “Do you need any food?” He was very sweet and attentive. He has also been extremely understanding with our separation and pending divorce. I have other friends from my new circle of friends that are there for support and have friends that are and have always been there for me.
But more importantly, this is causing me to question my involvement. What have I done to serve my friends when in need? How often have I stepped up when they are moving or in need of some help? How often do I pick up the phone or email, or write a note? I’ve been oh so bad at it in the past and need to make it a priority this point forward. Demanding better from myself and from others on how they treat me; but better treatment first starts with me, by me. And I must start by MY being a better friend, sister, aunt, cousin; starting today.