I’ve been thinking about this saying we always used to bring up when my kids were little and I spent a lot of time with women who chose a pared-down lifestyle so they could stay home while their kids were young.
It was important for us to let our children know we valued them more than fancy homes, cars, clothing, etc. I still feel that way.
To me, my family and friends are my greatest treasures (along with my horse and dog children). I value them way more than my house, my swimming pool, my turquoise jewelry, or she sheds. I guess I thought most people were that way. But no, I’m finding out otherwise.
A Personal Story of the Problem with Things
Here’s what’s been blowing my mind recently. Remember the book club I was in with my neighbors at the Bobcat house? To me, the books were secondary to the people in the group, who always treated each other kindly and accepted each other for who they were, as different as everyone was.
Now, I never lived there full time like Anita did, so I only saw a couple of minor judgmental things said about some of the women. I mostly heard stories of fun gatherings, music, and laughter. Anita was included and I was usually invited.
Then, a “thing” got in the way, combined with misunderstandings and lack of communication. That’s always a deadly combination. Apparently a lost item of clothing was more important than friendships. This hit me like a ton of bricks. People thought Anita had stolen a denim jacket and given it to me. When I wore it to the last book club I attended, someone tried to take it, and acted like they didn’t believe it was mine.
I ended up feeling guilty, like I’d done something wrong, but had no idea what. When Anita and I were pointedly not invited to the next two book clubs, I realized my “friends” had put their need to blame Anita (and me, by association) for a lost object above their years of friendship. Wow. And no one would talk to us about it. I did ask for someone to tell me what was going on. Crickets.
Of course none of our actual friends wanted to get involved. Who could blame them? They have to live there. They need to be cordial! And they only hear one side of the story, about how important the jacket was and how awful we must be to take it and “rub it in their faces.” And I, myself, knew I’d only heard one side of the story (and little of that, since it wasn’t a topic of conversation in Cameron, where we were dealing with getting a house finished). I figured I’d never know what other issues there were, and just wrote it off.
But it was really bothering Anita. She is my friend. I place her before things. So, I went to the store where I bought my jacket and got the receipt. They keep a record of everything there! I wanted to be sure everyone knew I owned my jacket, since it was so important to the group in Austin. I didn’t tell only the people who seemed to be so angry, because I wouldn’t put it past them to not share the info in order to maintain their version of events. people do that to protect themselves.
I’m under no illusion that proving I paid for my own clothing made any difference. From the earful I got from someone I’d really valued as a friend before, it became clear that Anita and I were back to being the unpopular kids, just like back in high school. All sorts of things had been misinterpreted and negative motives assigned to words and actions. Heck, I’d hate us if I’d done all the things I found out Anita and I’d supposedly said or done.
In high school I’d have tried and tried to get back in with the cool girls. Today I am just sad to lose friendships over things. It reminds me of what Lee keeps telling me, which is I can get myself into emotional trouble when I assume people mean well and like me for who I am.
Still. I actually still care about my former friends and have fond memories of them. I can see their point of view given their perception. I empathize with the people from that group who remain my friends. I’m so sorry I put them in an awkward situation over an inexpensive piece of clothing. Their friendship is more important than any things. I like them, just as they are.
My hope is that there are people who can forgive me of my less than ideal jokes, accept my cluelessness about situations I’m not a part of, and can deal with my oddness. If you are one of them, I’ll return the grace to you.
Life is too short to waste on judgment. I’m surprised this stuff has festered in me for so long. Time to forgive, forget, and let go.