Sunday, 26 April 2009

Green Shoots! In My Garden

I do love this time of year, with the blossoming trees, the lime green of newly sprouted leaves. It gives me hope for the rest of the year, which another disappointing summer is likely to ruin. But hey ho.

I'd like to share a tale of one of my first frenemies. She was, I thought, my best friend in high school. That illusion was shattered with one phone call. In the summer of 1975 my world as I knew flew apart quite violently and quickly when my dad informed my mother he had moved out and wanted a divorce. We had been in Wyoming most of the summer clearing out my grandparents' house and preparing my grandpa to move in with my aunt. My grandmother had died the previous May. As so often happens with deaths in the family, it brought out a lot of latent grievances between my mother and her sister and brother. Also, my dad kept not answering the phone (he'd stayed home that summer to "work") when my mother called. And my brother and I were snotty teen-agers.

We drove home as quickly as possible. My mother's ESP was in overdrive, and she wanted to get back to my dad as soon as she could. On our last day we drove about 15 hours in the car, arriving sometime after midnight. I still remember that quiet drive through downtown Tampa before hell let loose. When my mother took in what my dad had said, she ran to the bathroom cupboard, grabbed a bottle of Valium and took as many as she could. She spat most of them out, but swallowed enough to knock her out for quite a few hours. Over the next few days, she attempted suicide again in other ways and threatened my dad and me. I forgive her completely for her actions. I understand why she did it.

In the middle of this turmoil, my erstwhile best friend called and asked what was happening in my world. I told her about the divorce. She said, "I can't talk to you about this," and hung up. And never did talk to me about it. Soon afterward, I started on a downward spiral of drink, drugs and sex that I eventually extracted myself from a few years later.

This frenemy came to mind the other day as I sat in the kitchen of one of my current frenemies. She and I supposedly are training for the Race for Life, but one or the other of us keeps crapping out. I have hardened towards this particular frenemy over the last year as I felt she had been pushing me away exactly when I needed her support. The other day, it was her turn to need my support. She is worried sick about her elderly parents, in particular her mother. She is also very scared that one or both of them may need to go into a home. She burst into tears in her kitchen, and despite my best efforts, I could not help but go to comfort her. I hugged her and found some tissues and dried her tears. I couldn't say things would get better. They rarely do with people in their 80s. I sat and listened, which is all I could do. And I realised that being a frenemy isn't something I can do.

A footnote about the high school frenemy: she grew up to be a psychologist, has gained about 50 pounds, acts like she's on something, has had one divorce and no kids. I hope she's learned something about empathy since we were friends. I can't imagine her telling clients that she can't talk to them when they're going through a tough time.


Pantheist Mom said...

"And I realised that being a frenemy isn't something I can do."

...and that is a very good thing, IMO. It makes no sense to turn off your heart when you've got an empathetic one. Tis not fair, of course. But that's the way it is.

Spring is nice. Today, though, it was 97 freakin' degrees and I am so drained of energy that I cannot bring myself to even start making dinner. Next few days are forecast for the 90s as well. Speaking of not fair...

MBNAD woman said...

Yes - good for you. Being a frenemy is not aspirational at all!And isn't Spring wonderful?

DogLover said...

There may of course be frenemies who, like you, aren't cut out to be frenemies, but who unknowingly do something that offends a friend.

Makes me wonder how many people in my life I have offended without realising!

But I look on the bright side - it allows them to reduce their Christmas card list.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Terrific post as usual from you. I think women are exceptionally two faced and very competitive. I am very lucky to have a very close girlfriend that I trust implicitly but we have come through rocky times with the menopause mood swings – but that to me is the measure of a good friendship in that it was worth working at in the end. There are more frenenemies than true friends out there. I am like you, I cannot turn my heart off to distress even in people that I know do not have my best interests at heart. But I do in time cut them out of my life with a three strikes and you’re out philosophy.

I wish you were local to me, you'd make a great friend and I'd never stitch you up!

I have had three very good female friends in my life and a whole host of frenenemies. The difference between them is huge. My friendship with my pal Mrs P is easy, supportive and fun. With the others, it is tense, annoying and in some cases deeply destructive. One neighbour in particular likes to say to me – ‘people like you’ etc etc etc as she starts off delivering some wonderful piece of flippin home spun wisdom of hers. It was neither solicited nor welcomed by me. So, I got fed up and the next time she used this turgid put down I interrupted her and said ‘people like me? What do you mean, people like me? Do you mean fat? Younger? Infinitely better qualified than you with my one and three quarter degree’s or do you have something else in mind that you wish to enlighten me on? Honestly I could slap her into next week! Seems to have stopped her though!

Anonymous said...

Appologies, I've tagged you. You're it!


MBNAD woman said...

And we've both been tagged! You would have been one of my eight victims! Tee hee ;-)

Expat mum said...

The only thing I can suggest about her is, given her youth, it may well have been something she couldn't handle at the time. When my dad died, one of my friends wouldn't speak to me, which I found extremely hurtful. I had to try to understand though, that she'd found her neighbour dead about a year before and the whole thing had freaked her out so much she took years to right herself.

With frenemies, you just have to know that they will probably never give as much as they take from you.

Fred said...

I had to search my memory bank to see if I ever had a frenemy, and interestingly, I can really only remember one from high school. Eventually, I just cut her off, and in spite of her desire to be friends, I thought the best thing to do was to move on. I never kept up with here whereabouts, but I'm thinking she probably met the same fate as your friend.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

PM: 97?? Already???
I can't turn my heart off, try as I might.

MBNAD: Spring is so fantastic. It's my favourite season.

DogLover: Yes, you make a valid point. But you're a man. Men aren't frenemies.

MOB: I wish we lived closer to one another too. You always make me laugh. As for your neighbour, I'd love to have seen her face when you told her what's what.

Not Waving: Oh, all right then. Thank you.

Expatmum: What a sad time for you and your friend. Yes, my first frenemy's behaviour could be explained by lack of maturity, but she did other things as well. Still, I'd rather be me than them.

Fred: I knew your frenemy was going to be a female. Men aren't frenemies.

Flowerpot said...

People's reactions are so strange and can be so hurtful. I've foundthat themmost upsetting incidents occur through lack of communication. This spring is just wonderful isn't it?

Anonymous said...

How awful that must have been, just when you needed a friend. But still, times like that kind of make you realise who your real friends are. Good on you though, for not sinking to her level.

CJ xx

Anonymous said...

Did your frenemy ever say why she couldnt talk to you about this? She sounds incredibly self absorbed. The irony in the fact she is a therapist now is incredible.