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


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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