Girl Talk: Losing A Friend but Not Really

I don’t even know what to title this piece for us “girls.” I know, though, that this thing, whatever it is, is widespread among us.

I am talking about the situation where two women are friends, and then one of the pair gets a boyfriend (or girlfriend) and the other person in the friendrelationship feels abandoned.

The woman who has the new relationship begins a whole new life with the love of her life …and leaves her friend behind, all the while insisting that nothing has changed.

But the one left behind knows all too well that much has changed. Maybe her friend, now in a relationship, feels the same love for her that she did, but the thing that matters most – the time spent together – has been altogether changed, and the friend left behind …feels left behind.

I had an amazing friend. We did everything together; we talked on the phone several times a day, about nothing. We had always been friends, but then her husband died and our friendship deepened. When her husband died, I was with her as much as I could be, both as friend and pastor. She and her husband had had an amazing relationship, and her pain was beyond belief.

The fun we had! Even while her husband was alive, we really “hung out.” She was there for me when I was divorced. I went into a shell and hid myself in my house. I wouldn’t talk, wouldn’t answer my door, but there she was, outside my house, in her car, patiently waiting. She later told me that she would have sat there all evening until I opened the door.  When I saw that she was not going to leave, I opened the door for her, pissed. She said not a word and was not at all bothered by my  “pissness.” She came in, fixed me some tea, got herself some, and sat down. We said nothing, but she was there …and silently, I was so glad. When my divorce was made final, she was there. We went out to “celebrate” after the pronouncement was made.

She coached me in how to look more “like a pastor.” She had (and has) a great sense of style and gently reminded me that blue jeans and tee shirts probably wouldn’t cut it in the work I was doing. She took care of me and I took care of her. She met my family and became part of my family, as I did hers. She would cook ribs for me (she is an amazing cook) just because she knew I loved them.  As a member of the church, she would not let anyone say anything negative about me, not in her presence. She put up with me, which took a lot.

I am not sure of what I did for her, except “be there” for her when her husband died. I would call her every morning just to see how she was, long after her husband died. When she had a cold, I “tended” to her, making her take meds I deemed necessary for her. We would take road trips together, and I would drive; she was worthless on the road as a driver, but was great company as I drove. We would laugh at her music selections on those road trips. Mellow jazz, I would tell her wryly, is probably NOT the best music to listen to when you’ve been driving 8 hours … She took my jabs with grace.

She traveled with me when I took my daughter to college,settling her into her dorms and getting her out for the summer. She and I laughed together and cried together. She was a protector of me in church; I was the pastor, but she was the guard. I always knew she had my back.

And then she got a boyfriend who took her all over the world, took her to the nicest restaurants, treated her like she deserved to be treated, and I felt left behind and left out.  If I called her, I was not able to get her. From talking every day we went to talking “whenever.”  She was going all over the place: to the Superbowl, to opening nights of plays in New York. She said once that, while in New York, when she and her boyfriend were in some fancy hotel, that she thought of me, knowing I would have LOVED the hotel and the play.

I had to get it into my craw that things had changed. I never doubted she loved or cared for me, but I had to accept that her life was different, and that we would no longer be the “hanging buddies” that we had been. It was immensely painful, but it was the new reality.

We have stayed in touch. We occasionally talk, albeit very briefly. She sends me emails from time to time; I have to admit, I don’t send her many, but I do respond to the emails she sends. She is still very precious to me, and always will be.

We will make our way back to each other, or, rather, I will make my way back to her, with the new reality of her new life smack in front of me. This whole situation is hard because I love her so much and want her to be happy, which she is. I just didn’t like feeling like I had been pushed to the curb. I’m not even sure I WAS pushed to the curb, but I felt like it.

I think a lot of women know this scenario well.

Though I have given myself time to heal, I have not pushed her all the way out of my life. She was and is a real friend. Even now, were I to be in trouble, I know she’d be there, no questions asked. Friends are precious; even as our relationship changed, I would tell her that. And because she will always be a friend, I will never completely let go of her or the friendship.

I don’t have any advice to anyone on this. I just wanted to share. As I get older, I realize even more how precious are friends. There is nothing quite so precious as a friendship.

A candid observation …

Discrimination Not Always About Race

Discrimination isn’t always about race.

My son posted a piece on his Facebook page about a witness whose testimony in a rape case was basically disregarded because he is a skateboarder.

A former police officer, Michael Pena, was apparently found guilty of three counts of rape for assaulting a 25-year old school teacher (http://gothamist.com/2012/03/31/gunpoint_rape_cop_jurors_dismissed.php) but a judge later declared a mistrial. A juror, interviewed later, said that the testimony of one witness was disregarded; he was dubbed “the skateboard witness,” and his testimony was not taken seriously, the juror said.

My son loves to skateboard. He wrote on his Facebook page that the “prejudice is killing me inside.”

I wonder sometimes why God didn’t make us humans a little less prone to being unkind to each other. A friend of mine just visited Auschwitz, and wrote how the experience affected her, making her think of the Trail of Tears, the Middle Passage, the internment of Japanese during World Ward II, and, of course, American slavery.

“When will we learn?” she wrote.

Perhaps never, and that is a sobering and troubling thought. We as humans are so prone to put each other down, look for the worst in each other, and treat each other abominably. It doesn’t matter our religion, our race or our ethnicity. Think of the ethnic killings that have taken place all over the world, the desire of one race to create a “master race” that has spurred the most horrific human actions. For some reason, we as humans seem to have a need to discriminate against and to destroy each other.

The fact that a judge may have declared a mistrial in a rape case because he could not or would not take the testimony of a skateboarder seriously is, well, troubling.  Those who know the young man who testified said that he does not lie…but I would suppose that he had “the look” of a skateboarder. I once asked my son why he and his friends, in their skateboarding mode, all wore the knit caps, no matter the weather…I don’t remember what else I noticed, but I asked him, and he just grinned.

But because he wears a knit cap, or skateboard shoes often with no laces does not make him a questionable person, or a person without integrity, not worthy of being believed. I would hate it if he saw some horrific crime and testified as to what he saw, only to have his testimony thrown out because someone did not like the way he looks.

We discriminating against each other is not going to go away. Neither is prejudice or bigotry or racism. But I sure wish it would. It would make life a lot more palatable for a lot of people who are discriminated against every day, just for being who they are.

A candid observation …

 

Girl Talk: “The Code”

Years ago, I made one of the worst mistakes of my life.  I had a good friend who had a boyfriend, and when they broke up, he and I got together.

We had had nothing going on when they were together, but after they broke up, he would come talk to me and pour his heart out, and I would listen. After a while, he and I started going out, and it ruined my friendship with my friend.

Duh. I didn’t know “the code.”

My mother died when I was quite young, and so there are discussions she and I never had. Had she lived, I am sure that she would have laid “the code” out for me… and I am sure that one of the first things she would have taught me is “thou shalt not date thy friend’s former boyfriend, husband, or love interest.”

I didn’t know.

Thing is, this guy – the one I lost a friend over – was not even CLOSE to being someone I would have picked on my own. I cannot understand what I was thinking – or not thinking. I suppose loneliness might have played a part, but I understand that loneliness is no excuse for breaking “the code.”

As a pastor, and a single pastor at that, I have learned to apply the “girl code” in my work. If I need to talk to a male member of my congregation, I am careful to make sure that when I call, I first talk to the wife or girlfriend, ask how she is doing, tell her why I need to talk to her husband, and then ask if I might speak to him.

It not only is polite and professional to do it that way, it honors “the code.”

Recently, a friend of mine became furious at another friend of mine, because, it seemed, “friend A” was interested in the same guy as was “friend B.” It seems that “friend A” had begun conversations with the guy first, and then “friend B” began talking to him, too. He, of course, talked with and flirted with both, but the aftermath of this little scenario was that now, “friend A” and “friend B” are not talking.

Seriously?

I know …someone will say that unless he has a ring on his finger, its open season, but doesn’t friendship mean something? To me, there is nothing quite as special as a good female friend; good girlfriends are true gifts. It seems to me that way too many of us women lose friends because we violate “the code.”

All this makes me think of pieces of wisdom my mother shared with me while she was alive. One was that if a guy grew up in a home where he saw his father beat his mother, he’ll probably beat you. Another was that you could tell the relationship a guy had with his mother by the way he treats you. And yet another was, “if he played around on your girlfriend, he will play around on you.”

I listened to her, and have to say, her words of wisdom have saved me many a time.

Had she lived long enough to have had the conversation with me about “the code,” I’m sure she would have put it in language I would never have forgotten, and would not have lost my friend over this…guy.  I don’t know where the guy is today, or what he’s doing. My former friend, I must say, is married, has children, and is doing wonderfully well professionally.

I don’t know if any of my female readers are in a situation where you are attracted to a guy that a friend of yours either wants to be in a relationship with or has had a relationship with, but stop before you move. Friends are rubies, precious gems, not easily replaced. Better that you sigh and set your sights elsewhere than to damage or kill a friendship that may never come again.

Thou shalt not destroy a friendship over a guy. A good friend is more than “just a friend.” She’s often a sister, the sister, perhaps, that you never had. A sister-friend tends to “be there” when a guy just cannot relate or understand. Sister-friends are the ones you can call at midnight and pour your heart out to, and they are just there. They tell you, in love, when you’re wrong, they support and celebrate you when you are right. They push for your success, and they carry your burdens when you are “there,” so you absolutely know you are not alone.

They are too precious to lose.

From experience…a candid observation.