There are occasions when I feel petulant, as the title of this post suggests. Usually it is very transitory and confined, and extinguishes itself before it becomes voiced outside my own head.
But here in our private little blog world, I realize just how petulant I am capable of being. It is so not pretty. Thankfully I just click and poof! the objectionable blog or comment is erased from my screen, and I vow to never ever return. Until i do. Accidentally or on purpose, I return, like the train wreck you cannot help but watch.
I have so much admiration for those who seem to possess the superhuman strengths and skills I lack. To be fair to me, though, I have not yet HAD to deal with a terminal illness in someone I love, a child with special needs, or a husband in such crisis that he flounders and cheats on me. My good fortune in such matters made me count my blessings and hope and pray I continue to live right enough to maintain this balance.
People we are close to have much bigger issues and drama going on, and in the one-on-one I am capable of being a good friend. Mostly. For M and I, our age range is such that many of our friends are dealing with issues surrounding aging parents, including dementia and terminal illnesses that take a little more every passing day. I rally and try to find ways to help – let’s have lunch, can I help with something at the house, visit your mom/dad for awhile, listen while you talk, hold and try to comfort you while you cry. I understand that hearts break each and every day, and I also know some hurts can never be undone.
But when do you let go? When does your grief become so burdensome than friends are no longer the effective panacea and professional intervention is required? I have no answers, because it is so personal for each and every one involved. But I end up feeling a failure every time I feel the impatience with an ongoing drama. Why is it I do not celebrate my successes of good friendship as well? Another question for another post.
My friend L is coming by this afternoon and we are headed for the mall. L has a lot on her plate right now. L and her husband T had to put his mother into an assisted living facility last year and the guilt and hopelessness of that situation haunts them both and has nearly destroyed their marriage. The mother has Alzheimer’s disease and has been getting progressively worse as the months and years passed. T had promised his father that he would look after her, and for the most part he and L have done an amazing job. But times change, the needs of the patient change, and there should be no shame in seeking out professional assistance. L was her primary caretaker for several years in their home, a labor of love she undertook willingly. Yet they both knew the day would come where L was inadequate for the increasingly complex needs, and that day arrived abruptly last year, when the mother suddenly turned and shoved L and caused a fall down the stairs. L survived with a broken wrist, but the mother, in her delirium, harmed herself by breaking a window. It was readily apparent she needed a safer environment than L and T could provide.
I do not fully understand the dynamics of the present day relationship between L and T, but I know T is wracked with guilt by his perceived failure as a son and it directly impacts his marriage. Is it right? Is it fair? No to both, but life is unfair. We feel how we feel, we do what we do, and it is not my place to judge anyone else. It is my place to try and be the best friend I can be, which means a trip to the mall to find interview clothes (L is returning to the work force after a 20 year absence) and helping her sort out what she wants in an apartment of her own.
My friend L is a truly wonderful person. Like me, she suffers from the petulance problem with outside forces. We joke about it, but she is feeling so stressed and so constrained by her marriage and her husband’s increasing moodiness and demands that she is beyond frustrated to the point where she feels genuine hatred toward him and it alarms her. The break she is contemplating is more about survival, and the best advice I can offer is a safe place to stay and to discuss her concerns with a qualified attorney. While divorce is not on her mind, she has not worked in decades and is dependent upon T for financial support. Everything is joint, and while she is the primary bookkeeper in their relationship, there is worried about what will happen if she withdraws a chunk of money to support herself. Hence my suggesting to consult an attorney.
I do not feel her husband is violent toward her, but I do recognize the stress she is under and the escalating desperation in her tone each time we talk. It has me thinking about escape funds. What would I do in similar situation? In truth I could siphon off money without M noticing, because he does not have much interest in our finances and would have to consult the binder I keep if anything were to ever happen to me.
For today, we will shop for clothes and shoes and other accessories, hopefully find a perfect suit for an interview. We will have a nice lunch and talk about our mutual friends, my kids, and the pleasant aspects of both our lives along with all the other stuff we are both coping with right now. It may be balanced, it may be all about problems and issues. But there will be no petulance, at least on my part. She may be weary of me and my suggestions, my attempts to stay positive, hopeful, balanced, and non-judgmental. Maybe L will get frustrated and give in to petulance, tell me to be more bitchy and mean and hateful toward T and his selfishness, unfairness, enslavement, and all the other words she thinks and uses in her worst moments (and shares with me, a trusted friend). If that were the case, I will always hope to frustrate her, to let her petulance with me grow and grow. Otherwise I doubt I would be that great of a friend and have even more to worry about in the shortcomings column.