For our God is a consuming fire.

-Hebrews 12:29

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ambivalent (and Aircondition-less) in Alexandria

Oh my how I adore air conditioning! I type this on a sultry summer day from a local restaurant that has restored power and wifi. Almost 48 hours after hurricane winds pummeled our little burrow of Alexandria, the husband and I (and everyone else on our side of the block) are still without electricity. It's in large part due to this tree that snapped in half and landed in our back yard on the power lines. Note this portion of the tree is taller than the 3 story building in the background...

I was at home when the storm hit, and found myself crouched in fear in our pitch black basement with useless cell phone, glass of water and Bible for comfort. Thank you LORD that this tree fell in that direction and not backwards on our house, as many trees nearby did damage owner's roofs. Live power lines littered the roads the next day making even a breath of fresh air a dangerous pursuit. I'm also so thankful no one was hurt. The inconvenience of heat, discomfort and spoiling food seem so minor compared to the troubles that could have been.

Meanwhile, the day after the storm, with hot power lines still rampant in the roads and us homebound, I'd made late afternoon plans to meet up with a gal I know: GirlICan'tBelieveYa. I'd connected with work that I'd be unable to make appointments and why, and was conserving juice on our only means of communication with the outside world: my cell phone. So, I texted her the story of our plight and requested a reschedule for the next day.
Her response: "What time and where?"

Umm....ok. The husband and I are fine and safe. Thank you so much for asking! I answered her with a location suggestion. W/in the hour, power crews arrived out front to remove the live lines. Going outside was now an option. I texted her back an update and that I could now meet as originally planned.
Her response: "Let's do tomorrow. I've got stuff to do."

FANTASTIC. Problem is, I'm not really hip to get together with GirlICan'tBelieveYa in the first place. The below post is one I typed over a year and a half ago, and then took down b/c it was well, true. I didn't want to put that out there for her to see. Unfortunately, it's hard core, true sentiment about someone I feel is completely self-absorbed and therefore hurtful. Those characteristics haven't changed over time. So with some prayer and a call to my mom for guidance, I requested advice for using this heaven-sent-by-way-of-tree-fall opportunity to finally extricate myself from this toxic relationship.

With very little fanfare, I cancelled our plans completely, offering only that I no longer felt safe making plans with her. PERIOD. And I haven't I for many, many moons. It was hard. I cried tears of anger that I'd let this relationshp haunt me for so long, tears that someone who calls themselves my friend could be so callous; then finally tears of relief that I had the strength to just end it.

Now comes additional self-work, for though I no longer have any obligations to connect with this person, there are many lessons to examine and learn. For example:
*Why have I been so reluctant to express my feelings before this?
*Why did it take a blatant disregard/respect for my family's safety to spur me to close a door that should have been shut years ago?
*Is posting this blog appropriate sharing per usual or a passive-aggressive means of ridding toxic remants?
I don't have any of these answers yet, but I'm working on them all.

Romans 12:14 instructs us to bless those who persecute you. Hello, difficult! But I can pray that she is happy and blessed in how she chooses to proceed with her life. I can also pray thanks for providing a means of escape that I don't have to be a direct part of that path anymore.

Yoga Sutra 1.33 suggests we have indifference/neutrality towards those that are wicked or evil in order to clear the mind. I don't think GirlICan'tBelieveYa is either wicked or evil. But, I do aspire towards neutrality in her direction. For I'd love to have a clear mind on this matter versus the nauseous feelings I've dealt with for some time.

Finally, a pre-natal yoga teacher I've studied with Janice Clarfield always offers OMwork to her students at the end of class; picking a regular event of your day and using it as an opportunity to reset your focus. For example, at each red light, return to mindful breathing. If you continue reading this lengthy post, you'll understand my new OMwork self-assignment: Every time I see the large stain on our oriental rug (now 1/2 hidden under a couch after a Saturday of furniture rearranging), I will thank the Lord for life lessons and the ability to move on a better person.

Originally Redacted Post from 2/9/09
How many of us have a friend that just gets under our skin? Regularly? Perhaps without them even trying or knowing what they are doing? I have a friend GirlICan'tBelieveYa that I've known for almost a decade. When I first moved to this area, we were very close. She became by default my best local friend as she always wanted to go out, and in my mid-twenties, that's the space where I was as well. We had a blast on trips, at bars, you name it. GirlICan'tBelieveYa is very social, knows no strangers and is attractive. She's a good person to have at your side when the prime object to is meet guys.

Some other features about her include saying whatever pops into her head at the exact time it pops. GirlICan'tBelieveYa has no real filter on her. She is also scarily thin, yet I've seen her consume 3-4 overflowing plates of food in one meal. People often ask me if she is anorexic, and she is an exercise addict, but GirlICan'tBelieveYa eats... a lot. I always answer "No." I've never seen her purge once; never seen any evidence that she is bulimic. Yet there has always been this vast gap left unexplained as to how she can consume so much food and literally be a size 0, even 00. I admit to having jealous pangs about GirlICan'tBelieveYa's gift for eating without consequence. I am now a Weight Watchers member as I seem to carry my consequences on my gut, butt and thighs. But this has never been an impediment to our friendship. She's lucky in food, and I can accept that.

What has become an impediment, at least for me, is this woman's (she is pushing 40 now) lack of awareness. She opens her mouth and often a lot of nothing-much comes out. Sometimes though, with more frequency than anyone else in my life, very insensive, hurtful things fly out and land on my confessedly fragile ego. It is at these times, I begin to wonder again how and why we remain friends. As an example, last night we had GirlICan'tBelieveYa and husband over to our house for dinner. We invited them over after she had told me on several occassions how much her husband wanted to see our house. So I wanted to make it something special. I planned out a themed meal and yesterday we went grocery shopping and prepped the food and cleaned the house for the better part of our day.

I was also DETERMINED to workout, even if just for a half hour. But one hour before they were supposed to show up, I was just getting to a stopping point with the food/cleaning prep. I ran upstairs, changed into my workout clothes thinking "I'll just do 20 minutes." As I walked down our stairs I doubled back. I realized I wouldn't be able to shower, get ready and start the actual cooking all in time for their arrival. So I gave up my workout and was bummed. (I do realize I could've gotten up earlier on a Saturday to fit in this workout and still get everything else done, so I take responsiblity there.)

20 minutes before they are supposed to arrive, GirlICan'tBelieveYa calls me to say "Is it okay if we are late?" I didn't have much choice in the matter. Even if they left right that second, they were still going to be late. Usually, a friend calling to show up later than expected wouldn't bother me. Except that this was this particular friend who doesn't put a lot of thought into how her actions affect other people. I learned later in the evening that the reason she was late is b/c she scheduled her hair appointment late in the day and still had to get back to the house and get her kids ready. So, there was no planning on her part even though she knew we had dinner plans established for a start time she'd requested to accommodate her kids needs.

During dinner, she asked innocently "So what did you do with your day?" My husband and I exchanged glances and I truly wanted to say "This. This is what I did all day today." B/c it was like she had no clue that our crazy, cool 3 course themed meal or clean house didn't just appear by magic. I'll not say much about the red wine stain she left on my carpet - first thing one sees as they walk through the door of our house. I'll let it suffice that one week and one day later, I'm still trying solvents and cleansers to get the blasted stain out. It's like the devil is living in that stain just poking at me each day out in the wide open "HA HA HERE I AM. Caused by someone too clueless to care."

That is what hurts me the most, I think. I know this person cares about me. I care about her too. I know she is not saying or acting in ways to purposefully hurt me. But how do I excuse her actions? She's not mentally disabled (though sometimes I pause at else do I explain her?). She's bright, accomplished and social. But I've spent years explaining her as "Oh, that's Just GirlICan'tBelieveYa's way." WHY? B/c no one has ever trained her better? B/c like me, no one's ever had the balls to confront her and say "I don't appreciate when you do/say fill in the blank. It hurts my feelings." Why is that so hard for me? As we've grown older over the last decade, both she and I got married. We used to talk about the difficulties of being a newlywed...the learning about your husband's ways and petty fights. But I've found myself unable to relate to a lot of the reasons she and her husband were fighting.

She's had two babies and life has changed for us both for the better. It seems though, that our friendship has not grown with the rest of our life changes. Now that we don't have the go-out-with-a-purpose scene in common, I find we have very little in common at all. For my other friends, my life changes have not created a gap in our friendship. We've ridden the tide and our friendship remains strong and has grown. I don't feel the same here. This very fact has plagued me. Why not? And why does this relationship continually make me feel so bad?