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Forgiving friends

Posted by gellchom (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 3, 07 at 18:02

On several strings, a theme of cutting people some slack even when they have been rude to us has cropped up.

I thought I'd share an experience that makes me awfully glad I did.

One friend I have is really unbelievable. She goes into long stretches where she won't return phone calls or answer her door. She accepts invitations and then doesn't show up or call (or take calls) later. Recently, she said she and her husband would come to a party they knew was catered, and they didn't show up (NOT the same couple I wrote about in that other string!). I wasn't surprised; she's done this before. But it sure was awkward when, a few days later, I called to let them know about a death in the community and said to her husband that we'd missed them at our party, and he said, "What party?" She hadn't even told him about it -- i.e., she never had any intention of showing up, even when she'd said she would. Since then, she hasn't spoken to any of us, and there has been other peculiar and rude behavior, by both her and her husband -- I'll spare you the details.

This kind of thing, I'm just used to -- she's always been pretty screwy that way, and I know that's just how she is, so I don't take it personally. Other times, it's harder; like when my father died and she completely blew it off -- didn't attend the memorial service, didn't send food or write or make a donation -- nothing. And she has been controlling and passive-aggressive with another mutual friend who does take it very hard. We have wondered if she is mentally ill, or has a substance abuse problem, or what -- if so, we'd love to be able to help, and anyhow, it would be easier not to take it personally, but she says no.

But she can be so much fun to be with, never raises her voice or acts critical or confrontational, and is the best gift-giver I know. When she does come through, she comes through great -- sometimes she is a big help and comfort. Much more important, believe it or not, it's an old, very special friendship -- we have all been through so much together. She wasn't always this way. Even if I might not make friends with her now, there is loyalty and history at issue. So I took my mom's advice simply to accept her for what she is, as long as you can! As other posters have wisely pointed out, no one is perfect, and you just have to enjoy people for what they do have to offer and overlook the rest if it is really just annoying, not hurtful.

Two days ago, I learned she has breast cancer.

I am SO glad I didn't take her to task for that party or anything else. It all seems so unimportant now. I want her to know she can count on my husband and me for driving, meals, errands, etc. as she goes through radiation and chemo. So we dropped off some chicken soup (of course!) with a very short note to that effect.

My intention is that she not feel like she has to be uncomfortable asking for or accepting help from us because of her recent behavior, or even have to discuss it. I just acted like it was water under the bridge -- which I want it to be -- without saying so. I hope that does the job.

I would NEVER be able to do that if I had confronted her or badmouthed her about her bad behavior. She was wrong. So what? Thank goodness now I just let it go.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Forgiving friends

I have a friend like that.....turns out she's bi-polar. When she's good she's wonderful....when she's bad she's horrid....and she may promise to do soemthing in a good time and then the bad times come and she just can't.
She has been known to invite people for dinner and then not be anywhere to be found and her husband just orders in....that's just the way she is!
But when she's good....she's very good and those of us who love her have learned to ignore the bad times
As they say about friends....never diss someone until you have walked a mile in their moccasins.
Linda C

RE: Forgiving friends

Many people put on such a good social "mask" that you never really know what is really going on in their life, or what problems they are struggling with. They always pretend that everything is grand, and you assume it is. They may be struggling in ways they don't share, because so often everyone else is also wearing the social "mask" and pretending, so they don't want to feel like the only one with problems, and make themselves vulnerable to those who thrive on gossip and sharing "her" problems, while pretending that everything is grand in their own life.

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