Monday, January 7, 2008
Why Do Friends Hurt Friends?
This is a question that pops into my mind from time-to-time, like today when a new friend of mine shared her upset with one her friends who is doing something for herself although she realizes it must be painful to others. I advised my new pal, that rather than sit back and accept what she finds so upsetting, to speak out and let the person know how she feels. It's so much easier to tell others what to do than to do it yourself. Her post brought to mind a past experience I had... one I wish I'd dealt with very differently because it affects my life, even today. For cathartic reasons, I choose to share. Sometimes people deserve to know something about them is broken so they can fix it.
I won't go into great detail because of legality, but let's just say that I was once wrongfully accused of being something I'm totally against--a racist. I never had an opportunity to confront my accuser, so the question still burns in my mind--what did I ever do to you that warranted such a hurtful and harmful statement? I raised my children with a stern hand when it came to racists jokes and remarks. I've gone through my life treating people like I want to be treated, and I've always had a lot of friends. So to think that one person that I worked with for many years suddenly saw monetary gain over friendship amazes me.
It didn't just affect my friendship with her, it changed how I viewed my other co-workers--the other two who were sued along with me. I wasn't as strong as they were. I couldn't turn the other cheek and work shoulder-to-shoulder with someone who had besmirched my good name. I even had the backing of a doctor who said it was affecting my health, but my employer was more intimidated by the lawsuit then they were concerned in finding an alternative workspace for me. The friends I thought should have stood beside me, didn't and I walked away feeling and looking the fool and wondering why over twenty years of dedication and hard work didn't count for anything. For years, I'd planned other people's retirement parties, and the one I hoped for never came, at least from the office I'd given so much of myself to.
Although I changed to another job, the unhappiness continued to plague me. Constant questions about why I'd left my previous job went unanswered because I was warned not to discuss the suit. Eventually, my health failed and I had to retire. Needless to say, my pension is not what I'd planned on, and on payday each month, I wish I had possessed a stronger backbone. Today I would have told my friends of my disappointment in their lack of support for me. It might not have changed anything, but I'd feel satisfied that they know how I felt. I wouldn't have let one person steal my future from me, or fill the final days of my dying best friend with unwarranted stress. I feel like things were left unsettled between us. I still miss my teammate and best bud. She was my best audience and laughed at even my crummiest attempts at humor. I hope she knows how much I loved her, and still do.
I'm happy to say that this experience didn't dim my believe in human nature. I still detest people who judge others for any reason, and I will speak up against unfairness. It takes age to make you stronger, I guess. I'm constantly reminded of how things should be when I drop my grandson off at his kindergarten class. His best friend is black, and they hug each other hello and goodbye. They don't see colors...they see friendship, and that's the way it should be. Everyone should look at the world through Kindergarten eyes.