Feb 17, 2013

Lessons of a Week: Love and Friendship

I had this good idea for a post, but first I went to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of coke. As I did, the coke bottle got empty, so I washed it and took it out to the little warehouse - more like a ware-shack - where we collect them to later on take them to recycling, or use them to carry water to a tiny lot my folks bought, to water some plants we have over there. The cats were out, basking in the sun, and I couldn't stop myself from taking off my flip flops and walk barefoot on the grass, sit with them, and play with them a little. Then I came back, stared at the blank screen and thought: "So what was I going to write about?". And I can't remember what was it, but it was good.

So I'll tell you about a couple of things that happened in the past weeks (this is the good thing about not writing everyday, that things tend to accumulate and so you can write down all your chewed and processed thoughts about them), which may or may not help others.

This week, as we all know, was St. Valentine's Day. I prepared in advance for the first time, and actually sent my handmade cards in time. I just got reaaaally behind with the cards and the little presents for my friends close by. :-) Of course I was also up to my eyeballs in work, but that's really no excuse. I do am out of pink cardboard or pink construction paper, which is what I use to make my cards, but stuff for friends can be done in other colors, right?

As part of a penpalling group on Facebook, I realized for the first time how other people actually perceive St. Valentine's Day, and it was a bit shocking - truth to be told - to find so many people down right disliking the celebration. Certainly it does have a very commercial feel to it, but then again what doesn't have it these days?

You see, celebrations like St. Valentine's, Women's Day, Labor Day, Children's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and even the Day of the Dead isn't about remembering love, work, women, children... only once a day, BUT it's a moment to reflect on it. If you reflect on it daily, well good for you, but most of us have many, many things in mind and a day when we are made aware of the love in our lives, or the children around us, is a great break from our rutine to reinforce or even review our perspective about them. Also, it often gives you a chance to once a year celebrate with those closest to you, because let's be honest, unless you are freaking wealthy, you don't have nor the time, nor the energy, nor the resources to celebrate your Mom or your Dad every day or every week. This is a perfectly valid excuse to make something extraordinary that would stand out of the ordinary days.

Well, this year - aside of my arduous preparation - St. Valentine's brought more meaning to my life. For once, my boyfriend wasn't here with me to celebrate - like last year - and may I say that he's an absolute and total darling, and I so adore him! So I found myself missing him - which is new for me, because I normally don't miss people all that much. I just don't, because normally I feel so connected to people that it's like they are always there. But this time, as our rutines have been integrating so much, I do found myself missing him. Miss him not picking me up at work, or not finding him at home. Miss not going with him to do groceries, or going to the beach, or even getting home, lay on the bed reading and watching TV all the while knowing he's in another room playing computer games. So, this year I learned the value of missing someone and why you do it.

As part of the "missing", I also had the chance to learn a lesson on letting go what no longer adds anything positive to my life. In a really ugly way, I realized in the week before St. Valentine's Day, that the one person I considered once my best friend, the one who had disappointed me deeply and yet I still had lingering feelings for her due to our 22 year friendship, is someone who doesn't worth my time anymore. Yes, you know who I'm talking about, so no names are needed. Her compulsive lying, and her lying on things I knew very well - and I told her so - broke the branch of our friendship to the point of me no longer being able to consider her "my best friend".

Anyway, then came the lying and the improbable things, the deception and all that you know from previous posts. Things went eroding and eroding to the point of "she's no longer my best friend, but a friend" and then to the point of "the less I see of her the better". But why I - who so strongly advocate for terminating relationships that no longer pull their worth - wasn't terminating it for good? Well, because it was a really long friendship and in a way I continually looked back to that friend I had once, I kept remembering all the good, and though I didn't refuse to see what was there to see, I wanted to believe that it was just a phase, a sickness if you will, and that good friends stick through good and bad and help each other.

If this rings a bell for you as well, let me give you a piece of advise I learned the hard way: you are a friend, not a professional helper. As a person, there's only so much you can do, and often, when you don't know how to help, but you try anyways, you do more damage than good. Being there for a friend who's doing something unhealthy or not good, isn't always the best way to go, because you could be reinforcing the bad habit, making them believe that it does bring the desired result, thus prompting them to go further instead of breaking with the habit and looking for a way to recover their lives. I didn't get this right with this friend. I really thought that maybe, if I supported her, if I was a friend for her, if I did my best to help her without being invasive in her life, but not nodding to all of her crazy ideas, than maybe she would find the strenght to straighten up her life, get back on track and go back to be the wonderful person I once met and whom I've loved since.

Things came crumbling down when a few weeks ago another friend of us needed a lawyer to get some papers for her tax declaration. A friend and I, both friends of this person, thought of her, because she's a lawyer (she hasn't have a job in the last eight or nine years, though she claims she hasn't have a job for two year, and all this time she has been trying to stay afloat by doing independent work). We didn't hear of our friend (the one who needed a lawyer) again until she started calling us and writing to us desperately because this person wasn't replying her messages nor returning her calls. As it happens, she walked away with the money without having done the job.

Memories came to me about an acquintance once speaking ill of her, telling me how she had walked away with the money of a client and leaving the job undone. I had confronted her then and she swore upon everything that it was a lie. Well, that was a lie too, because she had no remorse in taking from a new client $100 and walk away, and also making two of her friends look bad. It was the first time I came in contact with the kind of job she does, and... she turned out not only to be a disappointment as a friend on the personal level, but also an irresponsible professional. This emptied the room I had for her in my heart, cut off the last piece I could hold into.

As St. Valentine's Day rolled in, as she stopped answering my messages and calls to please give back my friend her money, realization also hit hard: you could see some people as your friends, but they may not see you the same way. She and I are no longer the girls we were when we met. I grew up into who I am now, an imperfect person who believes in hard work and does her best to remain consequent in her speech and actions - thus valuing integrity very high - , and she became a lying, cheating disgrace. St. Valentine made me remember, reflect about my real friends, what friendship is, and how clinging and living in the past isn't a part of the spirit of this day.

I took thus my Friend-Axe and chopped off all those acquintances that no longer add to my life. She was finally cast away, her name struck from my calendar. Others went too, those who proved to be two faced, who point fingers at others for the crimes they themselves commit, but also those who are no longer part of my life.

St. Valentine's post comes late, butI really needed time to process all this inside of me first.

1 comment:

LJ said...

I too was without my other half this Valentine's Day (in fact, I can't remember the last time that we actually managed to spend Valentine's togather as usually I am away for work). This year he was in the UK picking up our 2 boys from their granparents, and I missed them all loads. It is only recently that I have felt that whole missing a person feeling, and I don't like it. Although it does make it even better when t hey get back :-)

As for friends who you have grown apart from and whose nature's have chenged so much that you no longer recognise them and cannot stand by silently while they do things that toally fly in the face of your own beliefs, I have been very lucky in my life (although I don't actually have that many friends, and even fewer close friends), and haven't had this happen to me. However, I can say that I think the way you have dealt with this is very good, and it is hard to see sometimes that it is time to just let go of the frindship, but you had done all you could and in the end there was nothing more you could do.

Thanks for another really thought-provoking post.