It’s petty, but it’s how I feel right now…

I received an email from a longtime friend of mine who shall remain nameless. I have here changed the name to protect the guilty; I shall call this person Sue. Sue and I have known each other since high school, so we are very much familiar with each other. She has always been rather moody and broody, but I have learned to ignore that part of her personality as she has so many good qualities. She moved to the Midwest last summer with her family to pursue a new job opportunity.

Recently, Sue has had health problems – severe long term health problems requiring hospitalization. I spoke to her on the phone the other day and she’s hanging in there.

So today I get this group email from her about how happy she is in her new home and how thankful she is that all these people in her town and in her church who barely know her are so kind to her, bringing her meals, inviting her and her family to Thanksgiving dinners, etc. I think that’s wonderful. But then she says that this would never have happened in California, where often people don’t know their neighbors and keep to themselves, that they are too busy with their own troubles to concern themselves with others (“except for her friends who ‘of course’ would help her”).

So why am I just a teensy bit offended? Because this email felt like a little slap in the face. Sue has always been a person who complained about people not visiting or calling her, but she never calls back, or visits, or even responds to emails most of the time. Maybe I am deluding myself to the status or quality of our relationship.

Or maybe I just need to work on myself a little bit. It should not bother me this much – this is her path in life. There is a reason for the things we say and do. I have free will as does she, and if the friendship is no longer satisfying, it’s OK to let it be, or end it. I choose to let it be, as we have been friends for 30 years. But I know I will not be doing much of the calling or emailing until I feel that she actually wants to reciprocate. This is not a vindictive response, but a realistic one.

To have a friend, you have to BE a friend…

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9 Comments

Filed under Friendship

9 responses to “It’s petty, but it’s how I feel right now…

  1. It is so sad when this type of thing happens. There are all kinds of issues that are bought to the surface.

    There is the part of you that feels offended and shouts “what about me? – I did – don’t I count? ” and “what about everything I did?” – or even “What about the good times we had together?”.

    Then there is the little voice inside your head that makes you question your judgement, makes you wonder if you have been wrong all these years and if all the time and energy and friendship has been wasted.

    One thing I will say in her defense is that long term serious illness can affect you in many ways – it screws with your perspective , makes you feel very vulnerable and also takes on a *landmark* effect – it is often difficult to remember what was before. It becomes a defining moment.

    Don’t beat yourself up about it – add her to your “mass mailing list/newsletter list” and get on with living your life and being the wonderful person you are.

  2. Thanks Nicola! You have a way of making me feel better about things. Wish we lived closer, I’d love to hang out with you and Peter!

  3. seb

    I understand how you feel, and it’s not petty at all. I’ve had similar situations, heck, I’ve even been the person who hasn’t responded and been sort of a bad friend at times…Which I’ve tried to work on, I’m very absent minded, and usually busy, so I feel bad, I have neglected friends over the years at times, but I’ve gotten better as I get older, because I feel like I’m learning the value of ‘real’ friends moreso from when I was younger, hence I appreciate my friends more and put forth a greater effort. Nicola makes a good point, I’d try and give your friend the benefit of the doubt. Not to say that you shouldn’t feel insulted, I agree with your thoughts that you should let your friend try to do a bit more of the work, sounds like she doesn’t fully appreciate your friendship.

    Sonja, I need to thank you for all the kind comments you keep leaving, I’m having fun with our ‘correspondence’! Are you leaning towards getting your own domain?

  4. She sounds like a “Its all about Me” person.

  5. Seb, thanks for your kind words. I am enjoying our conversations also, we are two “kindred souls”! Next time I visit my dad in Prescott, I am so at your studio (if you’re feeling better at that time).
    Shaymus – I think you are right about that. It is “ll about her”. I’ll just hang around in the background and see what happens. You know the old saying “set something free, if it comes back to you it is yours, if not it never was”. Corny, I know.

  6. Candace

    If it does’nt come back, track it down and kill it… Just kidding folks… The fact is that life here in California requires a speed that many are just not up to traveling at, but necessary for our survival. It wasn’t always this way, but the influx from other states (and countries) has definately made being “laid back” a thing of the past. I am a native Californian, and honestly I cannot remember a time when there wasn’t somebody complaining about Californians and how cold we are – and everytime when I asked who the heck they were referring too (as I too took offense just as you did Sonja), they were talking about people who were not natives, but transplants from back east or elsewhere in the country (many of whom call themselves Californians after living here just a short while). But anyone who knows a true Californian knows that being one isn’t a state of mind you can buy on Rodeo Drive – we see life from a larger perspective, we feel things closer to home, and if we miss something others think we should have noticed it is not for a lack of interest but rather having an entirely too full plate. This is not to say that others do not experience life as we do, I can only speak from my own experience. My childhood here was different than life is now, people were more open, more willing to open their homes and hearts to others than anywhere else I have been – and in many of the places I have traveled to the people look down on Californians without ever knowing us. The population growth in this area is staggering, and with it has come the extreme rise in the cost of living, and with it the need to work longer hours and make more money just to survive. It should be illegal to hate a place and it’s people and still be allowed to move there! I say let them hate Californians, maybe then people will come here on vacation instead of moving here, and then they can complain all they want – when they get back home. Whew, where did that come from?

    Getting back on subject… A couple I considered close friends, though we seldom saw each other due to schedules and distance (though now it seems not so far away), moved to New York, or so we have heard. They did not write or call to tell us they were going, they just disappeared. Her emails started returning as undeliverable. Their phone disconnected. Instantly all the guilt at not contacting them, not trying harder to get together, not calling more or sending personal emails, was nagging at me and I was miserable. Then I remembered something someone once said to me, “the phone rings both ways”. And I realized that all my atttempts to get together with them had been one sided, they had never called us to initiate getting together. We called them for dinner when we first moved in together, we invited them to our birthday parties, our wedding, baby shower, etc. But it does appear, looking back, to have been a one way street. I am not angry, I am just sad that I did not see what was happening sooner, because their friendship truly meant alot to us, and now they are just gone, erased from our life. I believe in keeping a balance in friendships, allowing them to reach out to me as much as I do to them, but also recognizing what my friends are capable of and what they are about and not expecting too much while accepting others for who they are. If someone does not return my calls, well then, so be it. No matter where we live there will always be people who do not live up to our expectations – and perhaps, after your friend has lived in her new town/state long enough she will find the same patterns in friendships have followed her there too. Right now, nobody knows her very well, everything is new. Give it time, she can only have as good a friend as she is willing to be herself.

    I know you Sonja, and I can honestly say she will never have a better friend. Perhaps her little add on about “of course her friends…” was her way of acknowledging that.

  7. If you are ever over this side of the pond – you are under orders to visit !

  8. Its always about CORN with you isnt it!!!

  9. Katrina

    I reckon…She’s in the honeymoon period where her complaints are being listened to, so of course she’s happy. But give it a few months…she’ll be complaining to her old friends again once her novelty has worn off…and maybe even wanting to come back to California!

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