The last few days I have been doing what I call an inventory of myself.
One of things I’ve been evaluating is my friendships and relationships, especially with certain people I’ve befriended and been associated with over the last few years. I’ve come to the realization that I put a lot of energy, time, heart, and soul into some really false, meaningless, one-way relationships. You know the kind of I’m talking about — relationships that suck the life right out of you, give nothing in return, and have no substance whatsoever. I’m talking about fairweather “friends” who disappear when you need them most or when they get a glimpse of your baggage, which 9 times out of 10 isn’t any worse than theirs.
My husband, Ronnie, and I have a core group of friends we truly love. We have been close to most of these people for over 6 years, some for over 10 years, and I have a few friends I’ve been close to for over 20 years. We’ve also met a few couples during this past year who we adore. Ronnie and I love entertaining, cooking for, and enjoying quality time with our friends, something that was difficult to do when I was working 70 hours a week in the event-planning industry.
On August 3, 2012, I resigned from my position as one of the top sales reps with one of the leading event-planning companies on the West Coast. For the record, it was my decision and mine alone to leave my place of employment. I was not fired, and it was not a rash decision. In fact, I had been contemplating leaving the company for a couple years, and after I gave notice, they begged me to stay. Word of my leaving apparently spread quickly throughout the industry, because within 48 hours of my resignation, two other companies contacted me and asked me to come work for them. (I declined, for various reasons.) To this day, former clients still call me with questions and for advice, since some are not satisfied with the quality of customer service they have received since my departure.
During the past couple years, I became friends — or so I believed — with some people who were clients from my past as well as a few who were new clients. I have always believed that people come into your life for a reason. I know the reason for one of those newcomers to my life: he’s the one who connected me with my psychiatrist, who has been a godsend. As for the rest of those newer “friends,” I have no clue (yet) as to why most of them came into my life, other than to milk every ounce of generosity and good will out of me.
A few days ago, after not hearing from some of these new “friends” for quite some time, Ronnie asked, “Have you heard from …?” — naming 4 different people.
“No,” I answered to each name.
After thinking about it for a minute or two, I said, “Ya know, they probably think they need to distance themselves from me because of my blog.”
“Oh, they had no problem calling you at all hours of the day and night and on weekends and vacations when they wanted something from you. They didn’t think twice about taking time away from us, time we could have been spending together or with other friends and family!” Ronnie said angrily. “Now, they can’t call you? Drop you an email? Send a text? See how you’re doing? Or, God forbid, invite you out to lunch?”
“I guess not, but I’m not bothered by it,” I said.
“Really? Well, I am!” he said. “You went way over and above what your job called for. You spent countless hours helping these people. Making their events extra-special. Listening to them talk about their personal problems. Not to mention listening to them gossip about who was cheating on their husband or wife, about their own clandestine getaways and running around on their spouse with their spouse’s friends and acquaintances. And now, because you are telling the truth about your life, they run like the wind? That’s bullshit!”
“I really don’t care,” I said.
I told Ronnie I thought these people were in bad places and needed someone to hear them out, to be on their side. So I’d listened to all their stories and tried to be supportive.
“I think they’re a bunch of phonies! They’re liars, cheaters, and thieves!” Ronnie said. “I told you from the beginning that they were using you. And they used me!”
He continued to rant, bringing up how he’d taken vacation days to barbecue for several of the parties and events I’d arranged or hosted for these clients. He’d even paid for the ribs, chicken, brisket, and other meat — thousands of dollars worth.
“That was your choice, Ronnie,” I said.
I told him that if he had a problem with that, he should never have offered to me to barbecue for those events. I reminded him that I enjoy doing for others and that I don’t give with the expectation of receiving.
Then, I started to cry. “Just stay out of it,” I said through tears. “That’s the past. I allowed myself to be used; that makes me mad at myself. But I’m in a better space now.”
Ronnie then brought up my birthday, which has always been a sore subject for me, my entire life. As a child, I never really had birthday parties or got birthday gifts from my parents. Because of my grief surrounding birthdays, I have always tried to make sure I recognized my family’s and my close friends’ birthdays. Over the past few years, I’ve thrown some pretty darn fabulous birthday parties for a few people from whom I’ve never received so much as a small trinket or even a card. It actually never bothered me, because I dread my birthday, which just brings back bad memories.
This year my birthday fell on the day before my last day of work. My co-workers had no idea I’d resigned; only upper management knew (and, through the gossip mill, a few other people in the industry). My co-workers put together a birthday meal for me, as they did every year. I really enjoyed and appreciated it, but it was also bittersweet, knowing the next day would be my last. But I’m glad I made the decision to leave.
I’m on a new journey now, and I am so thankful for the friends and family members who have been supporting me emotionally along the way. These are the people I’ve never questioned would be by my side, cheering me on, watching my back, and loving me unconditionally.
For those who have chosen to disconnect from me and to gossip about my blog and what they didn’t know about my true story, I wish them the best. I also hope that, one day, they will take their own inventory and realize the marriages they destroyed, the children who have suffered because of their indiscretions, and the other people they’ve hurt. I hope that they, too, embark on a journey of self-discovery. Maybe then, some day, they will discard their facades, stop trying to be someone they’re not, start being their true selves, and find real happiness and peace.
That’s what I’ve been trying to do. And you know what? My world is coming together, and my heart is healing. I am gaining a new understanding of the indiscretions that I, myself, have made and the reasons why. I am enjoying the simple things in life that make living worthwhile. Every day, my soul feels calmer, happier, and more fulfilled.
Ronnie said it well last night. “Becki, you can’t change the past, but the past can change you.”
That change can be for the better or for the worse. I choose better.