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.