Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Friend or Foe? Tit for Tat

I have always found myself to be so outgoing and friendly. Lately however, I am starting to be more guarded when meeting new people. I used to enjoy meeting new people and making them feel welcomed. Perhaps I would reach out in hopes that I could impress them with my friendliness and thus, they'd like me. And, after many years of reaching out, maybe I am just burnt out.

Or, maybe being a mom to two girls on the autism spectrum has just worn me out. All of my energy from my internal social chambers has burnt out and I have to reserve my words for my own family members.

Maybe I am depressed.

I recall a telephone conversation I had before I moved. This took place right after my mother was put on a ventilator, a few weeks before she passed away. I was running my own business, trying to return phone calls from clients and colleagues. I had been away from work for a few days visiting my mother in the hospital while trying to keep clients happy and 'business as usual by speedy messages sent by my Blackberry.

When I would return home from visiting my mother and step father at the hospital, I would try to force myself to normalcy. I struggled because it was like my mom wasn't dead, or was she? Would she live? Why does my step father keep signing for more artificial life saving mechanisms like a ventilator and a feeding tube? What is my role as an only daughter? These thoughts took the place of my typical tasks of eating or sleeping. And one day, I remember that I could not even open the door to my van and walk in to work. I spent the entire day playing Bejeweled on my Blackberry. It was the only thing I could manage. The next day however, I was able to open the door from my van and move one foot in front of the other. A block later, I was finally at my office. Breathe. Breathe, I kept telling myself.

It was time to return the multiple phone calls from my friend-slash-client's messages that had harassed me for the past four days. Her name was Molly. I had worked with her since she first entered corporate America and had always felt a kindred spirit to her. She was young and ambitious just as I was and I wanted to help her achieve success in the same way I had hoped someone could have or would have helped me. She wasn't aware of my secret mission, it was between God and me.

"Molly? Hello. Sorry it has been a while since I have returned your call. My mom has been in the hospital."

She replied, "Yeah, I got your message about that," Right about now is when I would hope we could have talked about what I had been going through. Here was my chance to talk about it, to process it all just a bit. She then said, curtly, "Now, do you want to talk about your mother or can I talk to you about this project?"

This caught me by such surprise! When I first met her, her father had just been diagnosed with cancer and I had been one of her biggest supporters through all of it. Here I sit, holding the phone realizing that Molly was really not a friend at all to me. She was merely a colleague. In fact, ever since I started getting serious about my career, I had lost all possible opportunities for true friendships. Everything had turned into a networking opportunity. Church activities and barbecues were attended based on what potential prospects or clients might also be there.

A few weeks passed and so did my mother. No one sent me a card or note of sympathy. That was when I realized that I had nothing left in the windy city. It was time to move in hopes to meet some true friends with real hearts.

2 comments:

Elizabeth Channel said...

Oh, what emptiness. Just think about Molly's life and how hollow it must truly be, and then be thankful you are OUT OF THERE!

And I say that understanding that it is much easier said than done and there is a great deal of complexity to all of this...

Jennifer said...

I've made that same mistake before - thinking my co-workers were my friends. Sadly, they are not. They've got a job to do, and that is their top priority.