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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Close encounters of the weird kind

I used to have a friend named Jill. She's exactly, to the day, 10 years younger than I am. We met through a mutual friend long long ago, when she was recently out of grad school and I was more established in life. Jill is very smart academically but something was just missing socially. She seemed incapable of being without a boyfriend and her goal in life was to be married and pregnant before she was 30. It wasn't just a goal, it was an obsession.

Jill wasn't an easy friend to have. She is remarkable self-absorbed, more than anyone I've ever met in my life. Although she is generous and kind, basically the world has always revolved around her. Now, this isn't exactly all her fault. She is from a seriously dysfunctional family, and her mother is the only mother than could give mine a run for her money in the evil department. But unlike me, Jill just kept going back for more and more abuse and never severed her relationship with her mother. That was a big mistake in my book, but I certainly understood why she did it. Jill's maternal grandmother made her mother seem idylic. That was one vicious woman. So Jill honestly didn't have a decent female role model and because of her very complex upbringing, it made sense that she became narcissistic.

We remained friends, close friends, for many many years. Our friendship ended when Jill came to visit me in California with her two children, and the Girl threw the fit of fits, telling Jill all sorts of stories about how abused she was. Jill, who should have known better, fell for it hook line and sinker, left a day early, and never spoke to me again. The Girl knows that what she did was wrong, and that she lied for attention, and those lies ruined my friendship with Jill. This has been one of my seminal teachings for the Girl, who is prone to exaggeration of the Nth degree, showing her that her lies did deeply affect my friendship and my life. She's never forgotten how hurt and upset I was, and she's never pulled anything like that again.

When we moved back to Boston, I didn't even try to look Jill up. Our friendship was over, and I was pretty angry at the way she ended it so abruptly without even telling me that she was through. It's not the way I deal with stuff, and I didn't really understand how she could be so ruthless, but I knew I didn't really want her in my life anymore for a variety of reasons.

One of Jill's children goes to school with my friend Iris, and over the years she's tried quite a few times to pump Iris for information about us. Iris, much to her credit, has played dumb and has never told Jill a thing, claiming that she didn't know squat about us. I love Iris for this. She protected me and I appreciate it.

Why am I telling you all this? Because today the Boy and I hit the grocery store and we hadn't walked 10 feet into the store before we ran into Jill.

It was weird. Really weird. She saw the Boy before she saw me, and she stopped and was all friendly and nice like she never treated me like shit. We talked for about 50 minutes, and covered all sorts of ground. My father's death, her grandparents deaths, her mother, my mother, her kids, my kids. I explained the Girl's learning disability, which she never knew about since the Girl was diagnosed the year after we came back from CA. And I made sure that she understood the the Girl's LD has a lot to do with her inability to understand fact from fiction, and her gullibility and verbal propensity for exaggeration.

Jill looked calmer and less stressed than I'd ever seen her, and I've known her through two marriages, a job as my employee, and two children. She finally seems to have accepted what life has brought her, and to be genuinely at peace with it. Even the Boy noticed it. She has always been so competitve and had a lot of issues with the Boy's giftedness. Not that she didn't believe it, she certainly did because she saw evidences of it first hand from his infancy. But because her son, a year younger and the child of two very smart Ivy League educated parents, is decidedly average and that stuck in her craw. But upon talking to the Boy about school and listening to him talk about high school when her son is just starting 7th grade, she didn't have issues about it for the first time. It was just OK, acceptable, natural. And that was a huge difference that meant a lot to me. I couldn't really compete with my kid because there really wasn't anything to compete about. My kid is who he is, her kid is who he is.

We exchanged phone numbers but I don't think I'll hear from her, and I'm not going to call. I still feel really raw about the whole relationship. I've never been dumped like that before, although I've had plenty of friendships that ended for one reason or another. But this one hurt a lot. I put about 13 years into a friendship and to have it just end like that bothered me greatly. I've had 5 years to recover, but I still feel scarred.
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