It’s only been 30 something years that I’ve been talking to my neighbours across the street. The phone has been our form of communication for 3 decades. I’ve burned out several phone batteries in our rather lengthy discussions. We have a lot in common in our lives and understand each other perfectly. As a matter of fact, there’s little that we do in our lives that we don’t know about with each other. It’s a sister from another mother type of situation.
One thing was always lacking. We’d never get together in person. As a matter of fact, in spite of living only a few hundred feet from one another with only a residential road between us, we’ve only once, gotten together yet, I’ve always dreamed of doing so. Life always got in the way even if we were talking and Swiffering the floors at the same time.
My friends have been quite another story. I’ve done a lot for all of them in one way or another. Whether I spent hours, out shopping with them for new light fixtures or shoes and focused only on their quests or, whether I was at a hospital, holding their hands while they were frightened out of their minds, it didn’t seem to make a difference in how I was treated by them. Even working my rear end off to help them with their projects or giving them money that I’d never see again and I knew it at that time. When I had 4 surgeries, not only did none of them show up or call to see how I was but, they still expected me to listen to their problems while I was in pain, recuperating. Nothing that I’ve ever done seems to have been appreciated enough for them to include me in their “good times”.
Recently, the friends I’ve done all of the above for throughout the years, have all cited times out with others where they had a lot of fun. Nowhere was there an invitation for me to be part of those times. I was used to getting the old “I’m SO busy lately” that I had given up asking whether they wanted to get together for a coffee or lunch or dinner or whatever. The time was there for others it seemed but, not when it came to me.
Yesterday, during another marathon phone call from my neighbour across the street, I heard her frustration at a situation she is facing and posed the question once again, “why don’t we go out for coffee tonight?” Much to my shock and delight, instead of the old “oh I can’t…we’re too busy,” I got the response, “sure…when?” I had to sit down lest I fall over. I couldn’t believe what I had heard coming from her mouth to my ears. She’d said YES to finally getting together and going out for a change.
She and her husband, myself and my husband all met at a patio cafe where we spent over 3 hours, laughing so hard we couldn’t sit up, talking over our lives, our children’s lives and simply having the best time I can remember having with others in a long time. My sides still hurt from the laughing and, there wasn’t a drop of alcohol drank by any of us. We all had tea and desserts. Actually, we had so much fun together that we’ve vowed to do it again soon.
Prior to this outing, I had been on the phone with several other friends who had all told me that they were too busy or didn’t have the money to go out anywhere or even come to my home for anything yet, accidentally let it slip that they had spent the entire week or two, out with other friends and proceeded to pour out their usual problems to me. I had to cut them off with a polite, “I’m sorry but, I have a few things that I have to take care of.”
Not totally unexpectedly, I had gone out for dinner to celebrate our days-apart birthdays with another friend only a week before. I paid for the dinner, of course. It wasn’t as though I had forced her to go and honestly, it wasn’t truly her fault but, we ended up having to leave in a rush after she had begun talking about a troublesome topic which was upsetting her greatly. I understood completely why she was so emotionally tangled in the situation. However, suffice it to say that upon a call initiated by me to her to find out how she was doing, I came to find out that she had not only been fine but, had been out many times over with others for dinners, lunches, coffees etc. as well since that night. There were no invitations for me during any of these times nor, any further talk about us getting together again.
Should anyone feel the need to write a comment at this point, saying that I sound “jealous” or “bitter”, “angry” or “hurt”, you would be correct. You’re stating the obvious. I am all of those emotions right now and that’s the purpose of this piece. However, I know that I’m not alone in this type of occurrence even if the commenter isn’t one of them at this moment to have experienced this type of treatment. Perhaps, you never will. Let’s hope not for your sake.
I have many other friends and even family (what’s left of it as most have passed on) who tell me that they cannot get together with me because they “have no money” and yet, I hear them forget this excuse when they enthusiastically tell me that they are leaving for other countries for a week or a couple of months.
Equally, I have other neighbours and friends whom I’ve always been there for in many ways, squealing with upset that I have been thinking about moving further away to homes that have more space and closets than I have in my current home. Meanwhile, they will pass me by on the street with a quick “hello” or some light pleasantries until they need something from me. More than half of the time, they won’t even return a phone call to me but, will text me instead. It all leaves me with the question of why they are so upset that I am looking for another home. What does it really matter where I go if they are only wanting my ear and shoulder to lean on? I’ve since figured out that it’s the favours that I’ve done for them. I won’t be so readily available to do them any longer. The rest, they could care less if I moved to outer space as long as they can bend my ear with their problems and give them advice. Again, yes, I am angry, bitter, hurt, bewildered, upset and feel used and abused. I fully and openly admit it. Even my own child has taken advantage of both my husband’s and my own help, care and always being here for her by not having contact with us any longer. She has chosen to live with a drug riddled jerk and got into the drugs herself. To the best of our abilities, we have yet to be able to get her away from such influences or, get her to talk to us because the mentally ill moron she lives with, doesn’t wish her to have contact with us or anyone else either for that matter.
In short, my friends have not only disappointed me in more ways than I can list here but, they’ve hurt me beyond belief. Meanwhile, my neighbour shocked me with delight when we had such a good time out together as we are both in the same boat.
I am still thinking of moving because I need and want to, when the right home becomes available for both my husband and myself. It makes little difference where I live and perhaps, I need a whole new set of friends anyway. I know that I will not build any new friendships on the basis of “helping” them constantly or listening to their problems. No one returns that favour. If you have one good friend who does that for you, hold onto them but, do the same for them as well in equal proportions.
Moral of this story is:
Never do so much for any person that they take you for granted or make being their shoulder and ear your job. That’s a road to Hell and, I mean that quite literally.
Be well. Live your life and let others live theirs. Help but don’t over help.
Love and Light
Have a great day or evening.