I got an email the other day from someone I hadn’t talked to in over 15 years – asking me for forgiveness.
My first thought was ‘how on earth did they get my email address’, quickly followed by ‘why do I need to forgive them?’ I soon realized that this person was going through the 12 steps and they were asking every person they had wronged for forgiveness. I personally couldn’t remember what it was that they had done to me, so being me, I asked.
When they responded, I almost fell off my chair.
This was a person, who, back in the late 90’s was, for a brief period of time, someone I considered to be a good friend. I confided in them, shared dreams with them, cried with them, and probably drank more than my fair share of weirdly named cocktails with them. And yet, it turns out, they weren’t really my friend at all.
While I had been pouring my heart out to them, they had in turn, talked about me in less than favorable ways to our mutual friends, had gotten involved with gentlemen that I had been interested in, and unbeknownst to me, had effectively convinced a potential employer not to hire me.
Now, I’ll admit, back then, I just thought I had been having a run of bad luck. My so-called friends didn’t want to spend time with me (I know why now), guys who I liked suddenly disappeared (apparently part of her pillow talk was to trash me – go figure) and a job I thought I had in the bag went to someone else. Everyone has a stretch like that, right? Especially when there is someone else orchestrating it from behind the scenes.
At first I just took it all in my stride. It was, after all, almost two decades in the past. My life turned out just fine without any of those things, so who was I to complain. And then I thought, hang on, why did she feel the need to do all this? And what on earth had I done to her to deserve this kind of treatment?
And that’s when it all came out. How she was jealous, no scratch that, envious of me and what I had (I was a broke ass bartender, but hey, whatever gets you going). She wanted to be me (shades of Single White Female), and short of coloring her hair, getting a boob job and losing about 4 inches in height, she in her drug induced, alcohol fueled mind, decided the next best thing to being me was essentially to destroy me – to take away my friendships, my relationships and my potential jobs.
Yeah, cause that makes total sense.
And now she wanted my forgiveness. She was a changed person. Had been sober for almost two years and was really trying to put the past behind her. My question to her was, why now? Why, after all this time did she need my forgiveness? Surely she must have realized that I had moved on, gotten better friends, been in better relationships and definitely had better jobs, so why bring it up? And then I got the kicker.
I was the last person on her list. It had taken her almost 18 months to find me (yay for FB) and another two months to write the email. Okay. So there was a bit of effort put in to it. I guess because she went to all that effort and better people then me, who have had things way worse done to them can forgive the people who hurt them, surely I could forgive her. Right?
I was ready to do so. Honestly I was. And then she kept going. Telling me how I was really the one who started it all. If I hadn’t have been so damn nice all the time (seriously?), if I had of been mean or nasty just once, she wouldn’t have been jealous. I would have just been another person. So, if you look at it that way….
Look, I know I’m not the right friend for everyone (and who would want to be? Being popular is a full time job), and sure, sometimes the way people act can drive you a little nuts, but to blame someone for all the awful things you did to them, because they were too nice, is, well it’s a cop out.
So no, I didn’t and I probably won’t forgive her. It’s apparent to me that she is either not ready to take responsibility for what she did, or she’s deluded herself into thinking she wasn’t responsible for it. Either way, it’s her issue, not mine.
Do I feel bad? Maybe. Am I worried that she will go back to drinking? A little. But it’s her choice, not mine.
I think Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park said it best “I don’t blame people for their mistakes. But I do ask that they pay for them.”
Till next time,