Sunday, March 13, 2005

If you can't take it...

...don't dish it out.

There are times when friends are in a place in their minds where they do not and cannot understand what you're saying. One of my long time friends is there right now.

I have offered moral support when needed. Right now she's being a bitch. She is frequently.

Twenty years ago she ran away from the man she loved because she thought he was putting her in second place and she wasn't good enough for him, even though they had plans to marry and he was stunned by her disappearance. Fourteen years ago she went looking for him. He didn't respond, probably because he was married at the time (and still is), and said that he wrote her a 12-page response that he tore up and didn't send. He also showed his wife the letter. Time marched on and eight years ago he contacted her. She was still married at the time, as was he, but they continued their online correspondence. During the past two years she has entered into some iffy sexual relationships in hopes of goading him into action. More times than I can count, she has almost run away again because of his friendship with me and because he is friends with many women, making her feel once again she is second to everyone else and not good enough for him. I have badgered, bullied, and talked her out of running away every single time. I have even taken him to task for his actions and lack of action. In response he has become more attentive.

What she doesn't know is that he has told me more about his feelings for her and where they're going than he tells her, a confidence which I cannot in good faith break without hurting both of them. So instead I offer suggestions in how to handle the situation, suggestions she is now throwing back in my face vehemently because she "...knows him better than anyone else after knowing him for over 20 years. After all, he came looking for me 14 years ago." Okay, so her math and memory are faulty and she knows him better than anyone else. She knows him so well that she ran away from him before and has nearly run away many times in the past eight years. "This conversation is over," she told me. I know the tone. I've heard it before, too many times to count.

Despite her own assets, she persists in casting herself in a negative light, in rating herself below everyone and anyone else...unfortunately including me most of the time. And yet she persists in telling me how to run my relationship with the man I love without knowing anything about him, without having talked to him for more than a couple seconds, and really not liking him, me, or herself most of the time.

My suggestions proceed from an intimate knowledge of the man she claims to know so well, the man she ran away from, the man she won't even tell how she honestly feels and what she wants from him. I want to help. It's in my nature. She sees me as interfering and trying to tell her what to do. She feels her grasp of the situation is better than mine and that her instincts are better than my knowledge. Right. Her instincts ruined their lives 20 years ago, and ruined the life of his children and the woman he married instead of her. Her instincts ruined her own life and nearly got her killed by the man she married, putting her young son in the position of finding his dead father's body. Her instincts put her in emotional and physical danger last year when she taunted, teased, and sexually involved her with two men, one who was married and one who ended up in jail. Her instincts made her the target of a "friend" who harmed her in every way possible, ran off all her real friends, and nearly destroyed her. Her instincts are really good, aren't they?

I'm not saying my instincts are any better, especially when it comes to matters of the heart, but I'm not relying on instincts; I'm relying on the hours and hours of talks her fella and I have had and the respect with which he regards me, the truth of the situation he won't or can't tell her because he's worried about her having an emotional breakdown.

I know what you're going to say: Stay out of it. And you're right. I should stay out of it. It just bothers me that she knows me so little, trusts me so little, that she doesn't realize what I tell her will help her. Oh, well, I guess it is true that the ones you help out of friendship can't see the forest for the trees and they will hurt you at every opportunity -- because they know best.

Add to all this the fact that she has written some unfair things about me and other friends who have allowed her to say what she feels, but when they, and especially I, do the same she demands a retraction or an edit to put her in a good light. Guess what? You're not always a nice person. Sometimes you're a bitch -- like now. Sometimes you're selfish, elitist, and petty. But then everyone is at some point. I'm still your friend despite our differences, but, honey, if you can't take it, don't dish it out. You get what you give.

I'll shut up now.

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