Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pastoral Snare: Vegas Edition (part II)

A priest once told me the moral code of Christians, boiled down and melted to sterling, was "Do the loving thing." Too bad "the loving thing" can't be identified like a math problem.

After the blow up I stayed with the sister. Too frustrated and tired of being manipulated by the friend. I think I did some good but I wasn't entirely sure I did the right thing. Later that night my coworker wandered back into the hotel room like nothing had happened.

Last night, my friend and I rode back to Austin alone. I was telling a story of how I didn't think I could have chicken noodle soup as a kid because my neighbors the Shapiros said it was Jewish penicillin, and I was --of course-- allergic to penicillin. She "corrected" me by saying Matzo ball soup was Jewish penicillin, I said fine, but where I was from, it was chicken noodle soup. I tried to get on with my story. No luck. She wouldn't let it go and I finally lost it.

I didn't yell, or scream or even swear, but, after a good 20 minutes of silence --a lot of thinking and a lot of prayer-- I let it all out, or at least most of it. I called her on the strange and desperate attention-getting techniques. I called her on the impropriety of her work behavior. I said I wanted to be there to be her friend, but her odd behavior (jumping up and down shouting "I'm a robotic kitty! Meep! Meep! Kitty!" in the middle of Accounting) made it hard. I hated not being able to finish a sentence or have a normal conversation. I didn't hit below the belt and said each thing as tenderly and compassionately as I could, but it wasn't fun. It's hard to say "you act like a petulant 7 year old and people genuinely wonder if you're brain damaged, and if you don't change your behavior I worry you're going to end up without any friends at all" without actually saying that.

She's gone through her whole life functioning with the petulance and petty manipulations of a child because people have allowed her to do it. It hasn't gotten her anywhere and as she gets older --deeper into the world of the Grown Up-- her behavior has become more and more of a problem, not just professionally, and she doesn't even know it.

Was it the loving thing? I don't know. I did it with love, does that count for anything? I made a huge effort to stay calm so I didn't say anything important from a place of anger. Actually, if I had to hear something like that, I would have wanted it said to me in that exact way, and by a friend who cares for me.

So what's happened The Day After? I don't know.

She didn't come in to work today, which is par for the course. I sent her an email with the company's employee assistance program, in case she wants to talk to somebody. I mean, that's a whole handful of bitter pills and I don’t envy her. I just hope she takes what I said to heart, not as an attack, but as something done out of affection. The loving thing.


This post was brought to you by something that didn't stay in Vegas

1 Comments:

Anonymous Connie said...

Excellent move. I think you did indeed do the loving thing. I hope your friend could actually hear and take in some of what you said, and that she will get some help. Now you might want to ... take a nap? Eat some chocolate? Keep praying? All of the above?!

1:13 AM  

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