When Real Life and eLife Intersect #Relationships

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I had the pleasure Sunday of meeting a real-life, organic follower of my blog.

She was so kind and earnestly interested in meeting me. We met after a church service where my brother deftly delivered a sermon on faith / love and trust / leadership wherein he managed to beautifully tie in the story in Exodus about Moses and the Burning Bush.

I am not a burning bush. I try to blend in; be a part of the scene because I dislike standing out.

Just before he spoke though, he said to the congregation, “I’m going to do something that will either give joy or embarrassment to these people, but I want to give a quick shout-out to my father, and to my sister, my brother-in-law and their three sons. They drove here today from more than an hour away just to hear me speak, so … say ‘hi’…” and in response I lifted my pearled tulle veil with my white kid gloves, and waved like the queen (elbow-wrist, elbow-wrist) from the balcony my throne chair.

I couldn’t see the boys because they were seated behind me with a cinderblock column dividing us, but according to my new friend, our sons “raised the roof,” flexed their biceps, and waved wildly, so to speak, upon their mention. In church. How nice.

Waking at 7am on a Sunday is a chore hideous, I’ll be honest. After shoveling a banana pancake and scalding my throat with coffee, we left our house at 8:45 to get to church by 10. At 11:30, when the service ended, my kids were hungry enough to take hostages. Thankfully, there was a small fellowship reception with chips, salsa and hummus set aside for the congregants to enjoy.

I made a bee-line for the chips. I unhinged my jaw, my sons swarmed me and we all ate like Mr. Fox:

While dumping an aluminum tray (large enough for, yet regrettably not filled with, lasagna) of round tortilla chips and salsa into my mouth, a kind woman floated over to us and asked me if I was my brother’s sister.

“I! AM! NOT! HIS! KEEPER!” I roared violently as I hoisted the tray over my head.

Coming to in my cell, I noticed that she wasn’t there.

The end.

No. Joshin’. I owned up to it and said I was. We look a lot alike, there is no wondering. She introduced herself and she told me, “I’m so glad to meet you! I’ve been following your blog. What you’ve been writing about your mother has been … just … so …”

“Oh! Wow! >chew< Fanks! Hau nife foo meet fou. Yef! >swallow< Weawwy, I apprefiate fhat fo much. >stuff face< And Fank you! Yef, it’f been hawrd. I — I fon’t pull many funches… Nefer have. Mom and I >chew< fere fomplifated…” I faid said as I wiped my hand of my flesh-eating saliva to shake hers.

“I just knew when I started to read you that you and I … we could be good friends… You say things and I can relate to them…” she said.

I nodded and was truly humbled and very happy. I will admit that it was the first time I’ve ever met a blog follower whom I didn’t know previously, so there was a moment of wee-oo wee-oo weirdness for me — when my cyber world intersects with my real world. I always assume that no one reads this stuff. I guess there are three readers now: my dad (sometimes), this person and my dog. I have exchanged emails with her and it will be so cool to have a reader friend!

What’s kewl about this whole scene, man, is that just last week I was scratching my head over the confluence of real and cyber life.

I was chatting with a flesh friend a few days ago and she told me this story about a strange contrived conversation she had with someone I used to know a few years ago. Things did not end well between me and this person I used to know. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the fiction which was shared with me about the demise of the relationship. According to the mutual friend, apparently I “didn’t get the hint…” that things were ending.

It must’ve been her invitation to me for lunch that I misunderstood. It’s me, right? Usually people do invite people they don’t like anymore to lunch.

Didn’t get the hint…‘ I love that. It’s so … mature and authentic.

Mew…Rawr. I wasn’t exactly hot-to-trot with this relationship anymore; things had cooled and we were heading in different directions, but … I‘m sorry. I was 44 at the time and had grown to expect, based on our five-years and personal history, to have a discussion and conversation about any … issues that needed attention because we both used to shake our heads about people who couldn’t have difficult conversations. Was it irrational and crazy of me to expect to talk about things, especially when all signals and so-called ‘hints‘ were … um … completely contradictory to any sort of attempt at disengagement?!

It’s always entertaining when my reality clashes with someone else’s. But I grew up with chaos and a highly irrational woman as my go-to, so while my penchant for finding more of them and adhering to them was something I had eventually grown out of, the people (legacy friendships) were still there.

So the question arises: “How to shed the tone of the union, but keep the people?”

And the answer is: I have no freakin’ clue. Apparently talking about any problems is bad.

Lol: ‘Didn’t get the hint…’ It’s so comical and IRONIC.

Moving on.

I don’t think there is a way, honestly, to endure a relationship when one person has sought a different direction than the other with all intentions of not bringing that person along or that the other person doesn’t want to pursue. I have met people through toxic mutuals (interests) and when the toxic mutual fades away, and then the toxic mutual becomes the linchpin of discussion and healing… it’s not good. The mutuals have got to find something else in common or it all goes pear-shaped. It’s the same for alcoholics or addicts: in order to stay sober, they must find new ways of entertaining themselves.

Speaking of addiction: through my eventual growth out of several unhealthy legacy friendships, even the one more recently which I will detail below, I apparently have a hard time letting go of chaos and drama even though I know it’s wrong. It’s the only reason these women were in my life. They facilitated the lessons I needed to learn.

Y’see, for me, it’s a woman thing.

I have learned that Mean Girls become Mean Women and I simply don’t have the patience for that garbage, especially since my mother’s death. As such, another legacy relationship with a schemer started to go pear-shaped because I stood up for an unknown eFriend. In retrospect, it really had nothing to do with the eFriend, but absolutely everything to do with the legacy friend’s numerous toxic intractable behavior patterns and their reprise.

In the midst of the friendship’s default, my legacy friend played her favorite hand from way back: the silent treatment for more than three weeks. Back in the day, when I was 14 and knee-deep in familial dysfunction and maternal dipsomania, I’dve groveled and appealed endlessly for acknowledgement (sheepishly, I did a bit this time too, but mostly because I felt bad that there even was a misunderstanding) and it used to give her power; it used to work.

Fast forward a couple decades, and the three silent-treatment weeks (I still have to laugh at that). When communication was resumed, the disagreement for which I apologized and appealed for resolution was termed “whatever” (nice!) with no apology or wisp of an olive branch or hint at resolution by this legacy friend; she’d been busy. Right. It’s cool.

Keep in mind my mother is also recently deceased and this so-called friend had no problem cutting me off; I’m a little blown away. Some things never change. I don’t think I’ve changed either, I am still a nice person, but I’m just not codependent anymore.

What’s funny, is that I realized today that this old friend reminded me of the smug, sanctimonious and scheming Nellie Oleson from “Little House on the Prairie.”

Does it matter why I got the silent treatment?

Ok. “Nellie” was privately horrid to me about the eFriend and her METHOD OF PRAYER! on my phone, then via FB and then on my phone and then I think (I honestly can’t remember anymore, it was all so petty) again via FB. Remember: I am grieving; I don’t talk much about it here anymore because I am trying to be happy and funny, but I was not a little horrified actually, by the lengths Nellie went to be so odious and I expressed my confusion of the entire thing vis a vis, “Why are you telling me this?!” Really…. why??? Why could you possibly think I would be the slightest bit interested in your smug and patent nastiness toward a complete stranger?! WHY?!

In return: Nellie dug in her heels, said she was hurt by my accusations of calling her judgmental and then gave me the silent treatment.

Right. I know. You’re probably exhausted from just putting that all together. Here’s a pillow and some chips. Nellie drained me.

I chose the eFriend for two reasons: 1) because Nellie never changed: she still gossiped and I had no will around her, I engaged in it and I really hated that about myself; and 2) because the eFriend has always been kind to me and has always been supportive. Her depths, outreach and kindnesses have been a huge blessing to me in the scant 10 weeks since Mom died. Not so much Nellie.

I have found my eFriends to be very kind to me; we seem to share a depth and an understanding of one another’s journeys. They have sent me gifts, cards, emails and private notes. They are lovely.

I can’t help but share this:

Seeing this video and remembering those episodes makes me feel that I was quite like Laura and well, “Nellie” was like Nellie.

We just don’t fit anymore. We never really did. I just didn’t like being alone or talked about. I was afraid.

It goes without saying, but I will anyway: for a relationship to be healthy it needs trust and love and humility. Sometimes taking a few steps back, getting some perspective, allowing some truths (vulnerabilities) about ourselves to come to light and being honest with ourselves and others is what it takes to keep them going.

I say this more for myself than for anyone: I saw the signs of decay in both the relationships. I should have gently bowed out when I realized it. With the first one, I dialed waaaaay back. I was surprised by the lunch invitation, actually, but I had no hard feelings so I agreed; we even picked a date and time. Then she cancelled, but said we’d reschedule.

What’s my heroin? A dominant female personality who is angry.

Part of me has a real reluctance to let these legacies die because I don’t want yet another failed relationship on my shoulders; I interpret that “failure” as a mark against my soul, a blemish on my record. But the truth is: not everyone is right for everyone. The alchemy of the relationship is what is needed At That Time and no other time ever, for whatever reason, to teach a lesson.

My yoga would tell me to let it go, to be equanimous, to see the lesson, and to hear the message. However, my ego in both of these instances was in full effect. I did not let it go, I did not practice equanimity, and any insight I’d have into my own behavior, at the time, was scorched. I reacted and lashed out. While that was immature of me, I maintain that I have always been a person willing to go the distance as long as things make sense. On reflection, I know that for the more recent experience I was swept up in old patterns with a legacy experience. It was not unlike how we act when with siblings. The trappings are the same too, my ‘heroin’ was right there.

My ego was bruised. In light of all this I ask myself (in front of you): what’s better? To give CPR and be pathetic party to a false and withered relationship or to just let it be and die off? I could go superficial “heyhowareya?” but that’s not my speed with this one; I have too much anger for the Nellieness.

I once had a chat with my brother about this very thing. I said, “But we’ve been friends for so long; like all my life…” and he said, “That’s no reason to stay friends. Sometimes, Mol, these things just need to fade away.” Or as another friend said, “Sometimes a loss is really a blessing.”

But I hate the drama. Or I say I do.

Maybe I don’t.

Yikes.

No. I hate the drama. It’s just familiar, that’s all.

Now I’m babbling. Quick… put me in a box.

Thank you.

2 responses »

  1. You wouldn’t think that, being adults, we’d have a hard time with it, since we know what we want for ourselves, yet you very nicely outline the difficulties in doing just that. Yet we expect our kids to make healthy decisions in who they pick for friends. Hmmm.

    • Vigilance. For us and for them. Then we need to model healthy behavior. I wouldn’t want my son to put up with crap like that, to stew about it and wonder about his worthiness with cowards like that, yet I put up with it myself?

      It sucks. Awareness can be very hard. I’d much rather be sleeping. Ignorance is bliss….

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