Tuesday, April 30, 2019

When You Stop Walking On Eggshells...

Years ago, we met a really cool lady. We bonded immediately. She welcomed us into her family. Over the next couple of years, we spent a lot of time with them. We celebrated birthdays and enjoyed a couple of holiday dinners with them. Lisa and I assisted with many of their fundraising efforts and volunteered quite a bit of our time. We certainly didn't mind and we always enjoyed seeing each other. But then, that all changed in a relatively short period of time.

Lisa noticed the red flags before I did. She would make comments about this or that. I listened to her concerns. We talked about it. However, I encouraged Lisa to give our friend the benefit of the doubt. One more chance.

It didn't take long for me to see the same red flags that Lisa was seeing.

The following month, we made plans with our friend over a half dozen times. On one occasion, we waited at our home for over an hour before we got a text letting us know she couldn't make it. In the days to follow, we'd be almost to the destination where we were supposed to meet only to get a text saying she couldn't make it. Or, we'd be waiting at the destination and get the text.

The last time it happened, I could tell that Lisa was done. She was upset.

"I'm not upset at you. I'm frustrated with the entire situation. This has happened time and time again. I know you 2 are close. You have put your heart and soul into everything you do for her and them. You've always gone above and beyond. You have a big heart. I don't like the way she's been acting or treating you. I don't want you to get hurt."

The following day, I sent my friend a lengthy message. I explained to her that between our kids, Lisa's work schedule and mine, our daily routine, and everything between, it's hard for us to make plans. When we do, it involves making adjustments in our schedule. And, as a Work At Home Dog Mom, I have to make sure I get a little ahead on the work stuff so I can take a few hours off.

I understand that life happens and things come up. The same has happened to us.


When it happens over a half dozen times in a row within a span of a few weeks, well...

Not cool.

I'm fairly certain that was the beginning of the end.

Over the next few months, our friend and I continued to chat sporadically. It was more cordial than anything. The invitations to gatherings that we used to be invited to stopped.

I'm not going to lie...it hurt. A. Lot.

The final straw was my birthday.

I got a text.

"Happy Birthday. Sorry, but I'm too busy to make it your way."


That concluded the dissolution of our friendship.

We've never heard from any of them again.

I took it kind of hard.

Okay. I was crushed. 

I was reminded of a really incredible lady I was friends with back in my early 30's. She was a single Mom. Her son was 12 at the time. We hung out quite a bit. We both loved to cook and bake and read. We'd exchange books and share food.

Her son was a complete tyrant. He had no respect for his Mom and it was obvious that he ruled the house.

Her son was also very rude. 

When we enjoyed meals together, which was often, her son would call his Mom and I fat. He'd point out every flaw.

"You shouldn't eat dessert. You're too fat."

"You have too many freckles. They're disgusting."

"You should go to a gym."

My friend would tell him to stop, but he wouldn't.

After a while, it got on my nerves.

The final straw was when her son grabbed the cupcake off my plate and ran into the living room while yelling, "You don't need this. You need to lose weight."

My friend just looked at me and said, "There's more cupcakes on the counter."


I finally spoke up. The next day. On the phone.

My friend invited me over for dinner the following weekend. She was making one of my favorites. Cabbage Rolls.

I declined the invitation and I told her why.

I explained to her that self love and confidence is something I struggle with every single day. That wasn't her fault at all. However, being called fat and having her son criticize my existence at the table was not something I was willing to put up with any longer.

"Well, he's at that age..."

"There is no age where that is appropriate or should be tolerated. As his Mom, you need to address that behavior and correct it."

"I've tried talking to him, but he doesn't listen to me."

"You've established that talking to him doesn't work so you should probably resort to Plan B. Or C. Or whatever. It's only going to get worse."

"This always happens. I make friends, but they never stick around long. I thought you were different."

"Maybe they don't stick around long because they don't want to be made fun of or criticized by your son."

I could hear her exhale.

"Your son took a cupcake off my plate and told me I didn't need it because I was fat. He went into the living room with the cupcake, turned on his game console and played games for the rest of the evening."

"At least he didn't bother us for the rest of the evening..."

"That's true, but what message were you sending to him? You sent him a clear message that it was okay to speak to your guest like that and, in addition, there would be no consequences."

"You sound like the rest of the people who I thought were my friends. Forget it. Don't come over for dinner this weekend."


I never heard from her again despite a few attempts to reach out.

When I thought back to other multiple times I've spoken up, I came to this warped conclusion that when situations happen time and time and time again, you essentially have 2 choices.

Walk on eggshells.


Risk losing a friend because you spoke up.

I'm still trying to figure that out because we both have had to speak up in the years since losing our friend.

Don't get me wrong, we don't expect people to be perfect. Nothing is ever perfect. We're all unique and Wabi Sabi. We all have our flaws. We all make mistakes. We all say things that require an apology. We don't always present things appropriately. Sometimes, you may have a face to face with a friend. We've all, at one point or another, have had to make amends.

However, there is a fine line between unconditional friendship and walking on eggshells to maintain a friendship.

If you have to walk on eggshells, there is a problem.

If things spiral downward after you stop walking on eggshells and speak up, there is a problem.

...and people wonder why I choose animals over most humans.


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