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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Getting Fired by Your Friends

Well, I have reached the point in my life where I’ve been fired by two long-term friends. We’ve all had to re-evaluate relationships as we realize life is too short to spend in one-sided non-productive “friendships”, so we just stop calling those people who always are up for something if we call them but never reciprocate.

This is different. These were friendships I really wanted to keep. One just stopped interacting because she said we no longer have anything in common. She and her husband have very tight money issues after their investments tanked in 2008. We have done all right and can continue to travel. While I try to focus on family when we’re together, and not travel, she still knows and doesn’t feel we have enough to share. I still continue to send birthday and Christmas cards with warm thoughts for their continued well-being. She’s still MY friend.

The other one is a sad case: a brilliant woman with many talents but deeply scarred from her life. Adopted and neglected, the break-up of two marriages have left her bitter and feeling the world is out to get her. I tried to be a friend to help her focus on her talents and encourage her. She lives alone in a hermit-like existence. We were doing fine until another person treated her unjustly in a group email. All of us who got it thought it was tacky, but because we all just discounted it, none of us rallied to support her. Unfortunately, because she can never let go of slights or assign them to the other person’s issues, anyone who sees that person is slamming her and can never be a friend again. Although I had apologized, it wasn’t enough. I was forever tainted.

This has distressed me, but as another friend who does counseling says, “She made that choice. You offered friendship. She wouldn’t accept it.” Even this compassionate person knows that sometimes it’s not within our power to help another person who doesn’t want it.

The personal benefit out of all this is that I look at my relationships and my demonstrations of caring more critically, and try to increase them with every encounter. Am I being the best friend I can be to those who matter to me? Am I guilty of distraction and lack of support when things come up in my life, or am I able to be in the here and now when people need me? Truthfully, not always, and I will work on that for the rest of my life.