Monday, September 03, 2012

An Ounce of Compassion

Oh some relationships are more than hard.  They're disappointing.
I've had a friend who has become less of a friend over the years. And through the past few years... that woven cloth of friendship has raveled down to a bare thread.

That thread snapped last week. Right about when I said something that didn't validate her perfect life and ideal existence.  Yes, she's one of those women who has it all, a doting husband, beautiful kids, with a charming house in the ideal neighborhood... but she feels inadequate if she can't decorate the kids rooms with Pottery Barn.

What I said wasn't exactly unkind... but it clearly didn't give her the warm fuzzies that she gets from everyone else in her life.  I'm sure she saw it as an unwarranted attack. What I'm sure she'll never see - even if she reads this, is that she instigated it just as much as I did. Yes she did.

See, when I went through one of the roughest times of my life - I was unemployed and had just broken up with the man I thought was my last chance at getting married and having a family, AND I was turning 40, which put an especially fine point on all the hardships - she decided it was too hard to take my calls. She told me later that she couldn't take the negativity.

Oh, well I'm sorry my life is so unpleasant for you. Some friend. Some human.
What kind of person sees someone go through a rough time, and just drops them?!

All she had to do was say, "You know, you don't deserve this. You would be an amazing wife, and it hurts me that someone with a heart as big as yours doesn't have someone to share it with." or "Oh my, I don't know what I would do in your situation without a job! Are you doing okay?"

But she didn't. (In fact, she said things like, "Unemployed since April? You must have had such an AMAZING summer!"  Um, yeah, I sat at the pool all day every day, not the least bit concerned with finding a job or trying to feed myself.  Or the time I was interviewing for a job I'd rather not take, but for the circumstances, I had to - she said that I should decline the job so someone who really needed it could have it. As if I didn't need the job, because since I'm single, my mortgage is paid for by fairies!!) 
No. She saw something that was hard and she turned her back.

All I needed was a little validation. Then, over the years, we still kept up on FB (which is a mistake) so all I ever saw was her asking for validation - that it was okay for her take time to exercise everyday - or okay for her to leave the kids with her hubby and escape to Starbucks to unwind.  And I thought all of that was okay. Sure - every mom deserves that. But it was the fact that every time she asked for validation, she got it. Twenty comments of validation at a time!!

And I thought, it's not fair that someone who couldn't validate me in a crisis - can get so much validation from the universe for things that aren't even hard! Then I would think all these other friends, who think everything she does deserves a laurel and roses, are going to be surprised one day when they need support, to learn that they're suddenly too difficult to love.

Yeah, I admit it made me bitter. I guess I'm negative, but she's the most deserving person on earth.
She wants a cup of coffee and the world sends her Starbucks gift cards.  I want a job, and I'm ignored. (or vilified for drawing unemployment!) I want love, and no one cares.   So forgive me if it pissed me off a little that she's constantly asking the world for more and getting it - and I ask the world for basics and get nothing.

So a friendship died a messy, stabby death.

Just an ounce of compassion on her end, might have been an antidote to gallons of bitterness.

When we don't validate our friends' hopes and desires, when we don't acknowledge that they're having a hard time or suffering a loss... it's like saying that you think they deserve their misery.
And if that's what you think... I guess that's fine, but don't pretend to be their friend.


Catholic Mutt said...

I don't have any situations like that, but I definitely have a friend that spent a lot of time begging for prayers that she could find a nanny. Umm, I know that's stressful, but excuse me for not getting worked up about that. I'm sorry that you lost your friend, but you really do need friends that can go through the tough times with you!

Genevra said...

Hmmm. That is such a rough place to be in, going through a hard time and needing support that you aren't getting. It's always been interesting to me how sometimes the people you think wouldn't be that supportive are, and those you think are better friends and would be supportive aren't. I truly thinks sometimes people just don't think about what it would be like to walk in another's shoes so they unintentionally say hurtful things, or they don't say anything supportive at all. And then there are those who are afraid hard times and negative attitudes are contagious. Attitudes certainly can be. I think you are right an ounce of sincere compassion, not the fake kind, I hate the fake kind, would have made a world of difference. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone is to gently and compassionately point out the negative attitude they have and love them through it. I know my own poor attitude about someone or something has been changed when someone has shown compassion in pointing it out or loving me through it.

I'm sorry the friendship ended. That is always a hard thing to go through.