Monday, January 17, 2011

Friendship is a two-way street

When I was a child, I asked my mysterious European-born maternal grandfather what he did at shul (synagogue).  He said he counted his blessings.

It's a lesson I endeavor to apply to my life. Despite the content of this post, I still spend time every evening counting my blessings.

My mind is not in a very good place on the friendship scale. Of late, several friends--or women I thought were friends--revealed themselves to be manipulators who availed themselves to my good nature, helpfulness, compassion, then cut me loose when my utility to them had run its course. In short, they used me.

Artiste/Cleric declared, almost self-righteously, that she was using me. She needed to vent (same almost-verbatim rant on four separate occasions), and I was "available" one time and more or less a captive audience the other three times. I listened with care and compassion--all four times--despite the fact that I had pressing tasks and a limited amount of time. Now that I've served my purpose, Artiste/Cleric has no further use for me. She said she had no intention of ever pursuing a friendship. For others in our community service organization, she spoke of books; to me, rants and venting. And I was glad to listen. She told me I should be happy to have served a purpose. Happy to have served a purpose! I'm not happy, however, to be used and discarded.

Entomologist, from a previous post, summoned me for multiple vent sessions, under the guise of inviting me for a hike. She asked if I wanted to meet her in a nature area south of town in 15 minutes, although she was aware the trailhead was at least a 20-minute drive from my house. Ostensibly, I was to drop what I was doing and hightail it on down there. Both times I had just returned from a long bicycle ride. Not only was I coated in sweat and salt from evaporated sweat, but I was wearing bicycle garb and shoes, so had to at least change clothes, fill up a water bottle, and find a hat. A quick shower would have been nice. Both times I said I could meet in 45 minutes. But you know: a friend in need is a friend indeed, or so I thought. I was delighted at first to have found a hiking partner, not so much when every hike was an unrelenting rant about her work and personal life.  I was not permitted so much as a word.  Of course, she had no interest in reciprocating when my life hit a rough patch.

Entomologist once told me her family was going to spend a week at a beach house. Stupid me! I actually thought she was inviting me for a day or two! Nope. My task was to 50 miles round-trip daily for a week to caretake her one-acre vegetable garden, six cats, dog, fish, ornamental plants, plus feed the squirrels and birds. The second and third year, Entomologist just assumed I would be caretaking and summonmed me to each year to pick up the key and receive my instructions.

Yes, once again, a friend in need.

(I know; I know, several people have told me I was on a fool's errand, and if were stupid enough to accept this task then I deserved the consequences.)

It's in my nature to be a good, loyal friend, to be supportive when people are in need. Why do these seemingly good people treat me as a utility rather than as a friend?

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