She told me that M is not her friend anymore, that M is mean to her, has called her names and along with another once-but-no-longer-friend even tried to get her in trouble in the bus line Friday afternoon. I am shocked because M has always been a real sweetie and she and E have been super close. Occasionally they have issues, but that is just normal shit. Of course I also know there are two sides to every story, but given the company M was keeping, I tend to believe E.
I am going to go out on a limb and say I think this current problem is my fault. I cannot think of any other reason, than that which I am going to write out below, for the problems between M and E.
I will start from the VERY beginning of M and E's friendship. They met in class a few years back and soon began to hang out at recess etc... One day she and her Mom came around to collect on a pledge my Hubster had made to donate to the Diabetes Walk M was doing. You see M and her Dad both have Type 1 diabetes. My Hubster had mentioned something about this, but I was unaware that the kid he pledged to was E's friend. I met M and her Mom, S, and we all chatted and figured out that they lived near us and that was great news for E -- now they could play out of school too! We also found out that they were also transplants to the area and we were all experiencing some very similar difficulties with acceptance in the area. We were both home Moms and seemed to have some stuff in common.
M's Dad, J, called me one day not too long after this and asked if he and S could come over that evening cuz they needed to talk to me about something. I had NO IDEA what they had on their minds and was a little worried that something had happened between E and M, but E said things were great so I just waited. What they needed was help.
S's Grandma had taken ill back home and she needed to go help her Mom. They needed to know if their kids could come here in the morning for the bus and after school until J got off work while S was out of town. Being the kind of person I am, I said OF COURSE! No problem. I got a crash course in diabetes and how to take care of M, and off went S. During this time, J and I got buddy buddy talking a bit after school every day. He's a nice guy, if a bit rough around his Jersey Boy edges. I forget how long S was gone, but sadly her Grandma passed away and she came home to her family and started moving on with life. If she had no luck at all she would have been better off, cuz the next thing I know I was being asked to repeat my help because S's Mom had taken ill and S was the one her Mom chose to be her caregiver if needed. Of course I helped... I could not imagine how S was feeling and she must have been dazed and horrified to boot.
Helping out meant often feeding the kids snacks and doing homework with them and refereeing the inevitable squabbles between 3 of my 4 and the additional 2. Occasionally I had them on the weekend so that J could work overtime. It was essentially a madhouse/zoo. I was exhausted, but generally in a good way. They are good kids and I love them. During this time, their oldest, JM and my oldest KC had made friends -- turned out they were in the same grade. Eventually, S's poor Mom passed away and she was naturally devastated and I think it was harder on her than she admits to herself. So, she came home and a few times had to go back for various issues. Always my door was open.
They were plenty grateful and I was happy to help. We all seemed to be getting on great and friendships were flourishing....so it seemed. There were a few periods where we had no idea why E's calls went unanswered and unreturned. Stopping by, there never seemed to be anyone home and then one day all was back to normal. One such time, E and M were apparently misunderstanding each other because of the aforementioned once-but-no-longer-friend, Jen. Once the parents talked, it turned out that both girls assumed the other was not their friend because of seating issues on the bus, and back to normal we went. These unexplained periods occurred frequently enough that I wondered if it was just a weird cycle or if I needed to try harder or what. It is worth noting that I was always the one to approach them to sort out whatever needed sorting, which always turned out to be the girls not communicating well.
We shared some birthday celebrations, S and I shared many a margarita bucket in summers, not to mention wine and Smirnoff Ice too. It was really nice feeling like I had a girlfriend here finally. My oldest was being a pain in the ass teenager, so was hers. We commiserated, swapped stories and gabbed on the phone etc... Sometimes it felt like work trying to be friends, but I figured maybe that was part of the process.
One of the funniest moments we had was a couple summers back. KC was in a foul mood and ignored S when she came over. KC was sitting poolside with her feet in the water. S decided that being ignored was not cool and she went and tossed KC in the pool. That broke the ice and all had a good laugh! I think it was not the last time someone was tossed in either. Fast forward to this past summer... and why I believe there is a problem between E and M.
S came by to pick up M one day and we were sitting on the deck watching the kids swimming. Her oldest, JM showed up. KC happened to be home which was rare enough this past summer, so I told JM he ought to go find her and toss her in the pool. At first he was not going to, but I guess he decided he might not get another chance for a long time, so he went with it. Well on the way to the pool, KC grabbed onto the deck rail and held on for dear life. I got up and went to undo her fingers and got the silly idea that I should just knock both the kids into the pool. So, I did. Little did I know that he had his cell in his pocket. Of course it got wet and would not work. Right away I said I would replace it -- even though they had that same afternoon talked about the fact that he would do anything to get a new phone, despite the fact that he had only about 2 months to go for a new one anyway. All I said to them on the matter was to bring me the bill and I would pay it back to them after our legal wrangle (see my Grown up Bullies post) was concluded. That had begun as something that should have been a couple hundred bucks to sort out but had run into several thousand dollars and we had no idea when it was going to end.
Next thing I know, S tells me the bill is about $200! I about shit a brick and asked why, since she said they used her upgrade for her line to do his. She said that was the best they could find for the phone that worked with his data plan. OK fine. A few days later, J was over and he started talking about the phone thing and I kind of had the feeling that what he was saying was a bit different than S, but I did not think much on it, because they had both said he had been the one to deal with the phone company for the whole thing. It may have been that she did not have all the info when she had talked to me days before. KC and JM talked at the park one day and he told her I did not have to pay for the phone. It thought that was nice, but no one had actually told me that, so I did not feel off the hook by any stretch. Again, I was the cause and was perfectly willing to pay for the phone. Eventually S brought a copy of the receipt and I put it with my bills to pay. Given that she brought the receipt after JM told KC I did not have to pay for the phone, I assumed that I was not off the hook and was still planning to pay it. Upon looking at it I realized that there was a fairly hefty FedEx charge on the bill, which I have to say I was not feeling obligated to pay, though I never said a word about that to anyone. Some days later, JM picked up M from playing one evening and about an hour later he showed back up unannounced and with no explanation he asked for the receipt back. I happened to notice something that I had not previously noticed, which was that the number on the bill was S's and not Josh's. I asked about it since it popped in my mind. He said he thought probably because hers was the primary line on the account. Seemed a good enough answer to me.
That night I got a snarky e-mail from S telling me that if I had questions I should ask her or J, not JM. (Mind you he is 18!) I said I had no questions and asked if there was a problem? Next e-mail, and the last communication I have ever had from her, she said did not want me to think she was cheating me or something and not to worry about paying for the phone.
FYI: Our legal issues have not quite been totally resolved, so we are still paying the lawyer bills. That said, I still have every intention of paying for the phone. If they choose not to accept the money, great. If they take it then they are entitled to it. I am not the person to walk away from responsibility.
M has played over here with E only a handful of times since then and each time her Dad or brother came to drop off or pick up. Nothing has ever been said but I could tell that E was getting the shove off when the silence started up again. Suddenly M is unavailable and I am apparently to blame. I mean really what other explanation could there be?
I will put this out there:
Had the situation been reversed, I would have said right off the bat that I did not expect them to pay for the phone. I think if it had been intentional, maybe I would have, but had they done for me as much as I had done for them, I just would never have expected them to pay up. I don't do things for people with the expectation that they do something for me in return, but I do believe that doing stuff for people should count somehow. I kind of felt like I was left hanging for no good reason and that maybe all this was a way of ending things. After all, during the summer before the pool incident, J told me I had been replaced by another woman who apparently shares my name -- funny that, huh? That hurt a little, but I was not so naive that I did not see it coming. I just figured our friendship was taking on a new shape. I mean up to the pool/phone thing things seemed really smooth and I enjoyed hanging out on my deck yakkin with Steph a lot this summer. It had felt like things were maybe not perfect, but back on track.
I gotta say I must really suck at this whole friendship thing. Hubster says I have high expectations, because I tend to think that people should treat me as well as I treat them. He also says that I should not lower my expectations, because why shouldn't I expect to be treated decently? I am of two minds about this now and do not know what to do anymore. Do I sacrifice principle just to have any friend I can get, no matter what? Do I keep on going this way and knowing that the friendships I have had for more than 25 years back home will hold up to the test, so there must be equally good people here in IL that I can find? I am far from perfect and admit it freely and often. I surely say stupid shit and make mistakes and if I fuck up I try my damndest to make it right. That said I cannot make right what I know nothing of, so unless S bothers to tell me what the fuck I did that was so awful, I guess I am done. I am not about to go around to people and beg for their friendship. What kind of low life would that make me? I guess I have to believe that the 2 way street has to be the answer. All one way or very lopsided is not friendship-- at least not in my book. Meanwhile, I am not only bummed that I have apparently lost yet another supposed* friend, but I also find that I feel sick to my stomach that maybe whatever I did had cost E her friendship with M.
*Yes, S was part of the Cleansing of the Facebook Palette, so this is not new to me. The part where E is being hurt by M is new and that is why I was frustrated enough to blog it today.
Some minor edits have been made to this post.