Sometimes in life, you feel deep down to your core an instinctual feeling which helps guide you in decision making. It gives you a little heads up about something you might want to avoid or it gives you an insight into something going on behind the scenes that you are very much aware of on a deeper subconscious level. I will never seek out to hurt myself. If I know that there's going to be something that could potentially upset me, I'd rather just avoid it than start digging around and possibly finding out things I do not care to know.
My friend released a book a couple of months ago and for some reason, I instinctually knew there would be something contained within the book that would cause me to feel hurt. For this reason, I decided to avoid purchasing the book until this feeling dissipated. I began to feel incredibly guilty as time passed and started to admonish myself for avoiding supporting a friend in their artistic pursuit, based merely on a hunch. It started to make me feel bad about myself as it dawned on me that I was not being a very good friend by making these presumptions. It started to feel very wrong not to give her the benefit of the doubt.
I purchased the book. When I opened it, sadly it did contain some quite upsetting content and I wish I'd trusted my initial instincts. I discovered essentially that my friend at times was deceiving me and that I was extremely low indeed on the totem pole of valued friends in her life. We'd had past conversations where I'd raised some issues that were problems in our relationship and I was made to feel extremely bad about myself for bringing these things to the table. (My friend, like most of us, me included, is not very good at accepting any perceived criticism) For almost a year I found myself feeling agonisingly regretful for being so honest. My only solace now was the discovery that not only was it fair for me to raise those issues previously but also completely warranted.
As I began to piece together some things that had been said in the past I began to feel more hurt. I sunk into a very bad place as I started to question my whole essence. Am I too nice? Did I bring all of this on myself by continually turning a blind eye to what I always instinctually felt was going on behind the scenes? Does this person even like me? The whole episode made me feel deeply hurt and sad. I finally had to accept something that I had felt for some time now, that I meant very little to this friend compared to what they meant to me. I don't think friendships work very well if one person is much more invested than the other. This imbalance became frustrating which is why I found myself feeling quite aggrieved at various stages throughout our friendship. Neither of us is confrontational people and things just started to become less fun as I found myself constantly raising issues that were bothering me. This is not a pattern that occurs in my other friendships, presumably because in my other friendships the give and take, respect and love between us appears to be more or less equal.
At moments like this, when you are deeply hurt, strange thoughts can surface. You start to ponder 'revenge' and striking out to hurt them. An article that I had once read crossed my mind. There was a company that would anonymously send a package on your behalf to the person who you had fallen out with. You could have very fine glitter sent which would take days for them to clean up. Or a pile of cow manure. Or simply a picture of a middle finger sticking up. While this amused me, I was not considering this even for a second. This was not my style and I laughed out loud wondering if people actually did this? I suppose they must or the company wouldn't exist. Of course, the easiest and cheapest way (in both senses of the word) to let the whole world know about my grievance would be to simply @ mention them and humiliate myself and them in one fell swoop. But there is not a chance I would consider this option either.
I started reflecting back on my role models growing up, how would they handle a situation like this? Well, my father was very much a heart on your sleeve kind of person. He would go above and beyond for friends and colleagues. But he was also extremely sensitive. If somebody screwed him over (which invariably happened with some frequency as he ran in political circles), their card would well and truly be marked. My father was kind and clever but most certainly had a Machiavellian streak. He would bide his time and come up with very elaborate plans to exact his revenge. These revenge plans would be carried out with great precision. It would not be the average run of the mill tactics such as smear campaigns and the like, the revenge was designed to humiliate. It was all-consuming though and could become quite obsessive. My father had bleeding ulcers and my mother and I were quite certain that these sort of grudges helped contribute to his poor health. I always knew that this was not a path I would ever follow. The moment of elation at 'screwing them good and proper' was presumably short-lived. The price paid in time and effort spent on a person not even worth a minute of your time seemed crazy. It was very apparent to me this was a flawed tactic.
My mother, she was often described as being 'so kind' or 'you just do too much'. She was extremely thoughtful and often gave small well chosen and very personal gifts to special people in her life. She would dog sit for free for friends. She would basically put herself out there for people she cared about, but she was quite careful about who she gave her loyalties to and who she let into her life. I watched her get her heart get broken on several occasions by people who did end up taking advantage of her. And she always turned this anger and hurt inwards, becoming quite depressed.
I recall the worst incident was with a neighbour who was a lawyer. He had a child late in life who was born with a harelip. My mother was forever buying little gifts for this child and just offering general kindness as she knew things were stressful and difficult in this man's life as his daughter was to undergo several operations. My mother eventually sold her house in Toronto to make the big move to Vancouver, something she'd wanted to do for quite some time. This was supposed to be a great exciting new start in her life. On the day of her flight, the money from the proceeds of the house was to be transferred into her account. Of course, she'd hired her lawyer neighbour to take care of all of this for her. By the time her plane landed in Vancouver, the money would be sitting in her account. No money appeared, the transfer was not made. He kept the money. He stole her money, a very considerable amount. He screwed over my mother, a widow in her early 50s. He saw her as an easy mark I guess, and someone he could easily avoid as she was now residing on the other side of the country. The long and short, my mother eventually got the money back. The lawyer got disbarred. He had been scamming several people. But it took a long time for it to all work itself out. In the interim, my mother changed as a person forever. She felt like a fool. The pain was so deep you could see it when you looked into her eyes. She turned all of the anger inwards.
In nature, I am a combination of both of my parents. I want to believe in the good of people. I want to go the extra mile for people that mean something to me. I too, am a very sensitive person. I can also generally see a shyster a mile away. I have many friends but there are very few that I fully let into my world. I once had a friend who was very much a father figure to me. On several occasions he said to me 'Kim you're too kind, someone is going to take advantage of you'. I always felt a little bit sorry for him when he made those comments, it seemed so darn cynical. Also very arrogantly I thought, I'm not new to the world. I lived in four major world-class Canadian cities before coming to live in this English town you know. I have crossed paths with many people, good and bad. I've seen plenty of stuff in my time, believe me. I know about human nature. I am shrewd. I have instincts. My special gift is that I can read people. I can easily filter out the rogues and users. Thanks for the warning, but it's not required. Well... I guess he was right after all, but he's no longer alive to say 'I told you so'.
I've learned my lessons from my role models. I will neither seek revenge nor turn this anger inwards. I have dealt with this by communicating with my friend in writing. I have tried to be respectful in my communication but have been very specific about how and why she has hurt me. I have allowed myself to be humiliated for a short time by admitting her actions have affected me so deeply. Nobody wants to give somebody else that kind of power, but sometimes it is the only way to move forward. In the long run, I will be able to let all of this go and not hold onto this hurt and pain. I believe this is the wisest way for me to have dealt with it. I think it is an emotionally intelligent way to move forward. I hope one day my friend will understand why she has hurt me so deeply. And of course, I do realise that if she had not meant so much to me, it wouldn't hurt. This is the price you pay for letting your guard down and welcoming somebody into your heart. The more you trust somebody the more painful it is when that person betrays that trust. But time will take care of it all, not only do I know this intellectually but I also know to trust my instincts.
I have been writing bad poetry since the 80s folks. I am going to turn my hand to writing a non fiction book in 2019, I feel excited by the prospect!