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I Am Hurt and Angry But Somewhat Relieved

by Gini Cunningham

posted in Self Improvement

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I had a friend who was sometimes an ally, sometimes a spy, and sometimes a baffling individual. We have known each other for over twenty years, taken and taught classes together, and had many a laugh and a few tears. I helped her through the death of her first husband. My husband and I hosted and witnessed her second marriage and then helped her after his death. On the third marriage we weren't invited or even informed. At that point my husband said, "Honey, you need to realize that she just doesn't like you that much." This was hard to take but also resounded with truth.
This former friend spouts ideas of frugality and disconnecting from wants and focusing on needs, a minimalist she calls it, as she buys horses, motorcycles, cars, trucks, houses, and every other whim on a whim. Then she trades them in and starts all over again. She proclaims her independence but I have found her to be one of the neediest people I know. Her fancy car sports the plate ZEN and that sums it all up quite nicely.
Elegant wheels and Zen are a non-match. It is difficult to put these words in the same sentence or even paragraph. She has meddled in placements for my students without me having made a request, placing me in awkward positions when I have other plans. She makes statements as if she is the only thinking person around. She insults my decorating and my cloths. Recently, after months of no calls and a last minute cancellation on an invitation to my home, I declared, "I quit!" and I did for a little while. And then another friend, a true friend, begged me to try once more and so we three met for breakfast. The former friend had no idea I was even upset and besides, she had too much to tell about herself. I listened, interjected occasionally, and waited to dive into my food and then exit as quickly as possible. Somewhere in the conversation, however, I made a fatal professional error. I made a negative comment about a former student, one who had just signed a contract for a job. It was an event from many years ago, and I blurted it out for no good reason, just to fill the air, I suppose. Regrets now run aplenty.
I thought nothing of this conversation at the time and went about my work. Then one day when I entered a room for an observation of the new employee, I sensed a seething rage not far beneath her skin. I suggested that we chat and that is when she unloaded and unloaded, and then tacked on some more. Dumbfounded, I tried to regain my bearings so I could address the issue and solve several misconceptions. One rant, of course, included the poor comment I had made. The old ex-friend had told her and then added multiple, ugly embellishments. At first I had no reply; I couldn't even remember saying this nasty thing. And the rest was a ground up mistake: I didn't say this or that and on one enormous accusation, I wasn't even in the job at the time. She finally fumed out, I apologized for her anguish and thought we were settled, at least the atmosphere seemed far less dangerous.
I jumped in the car and headed to the rumormonger's office. I asked her exactly what she had said and yep, there was the single, actual event and then a whole bunch more. Reaching my capacity for her vitriol, I stated that if that was what she thought of me, and that was the type of friend she wanted to be, I wanted no more, stood, and left. Of course she didn't follow, or call, or email, or respond in any fashion. That is the methodology of mean people. They never understand that they have committed a wrong.
It took me all evening and half of the night to replay, rethink, and refigure this disaster. After tossing and turning I eventually concluded, "Relief! I feel relief that the tie is finally broken and I resolve to never trust her, meet with her, or speak to her again." It was a huge step in strength for me. While I will try to mend the fences and bridge the gap with the new employee, I know this may be impossible. It is most unlikely that she will bend or understand my lousy words really meant no harm, I was just mouthing off. I learned, for the thousandth time, it is invaluable to maintain silence most of the time and to speak with much forethought the rest of the time. I will say it is very quiet now at my house. I guess relief sounds like that.
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