Making sense of a puzzling legacy

August 7, 2017

legacyI’ve been sorting through boxes of artifacts of my life, the things that I assumed I’d use for writing fodder in my senior years.  As the years passed, I envisioned my senior years spent finishing the memoir I’ve worked on in fits and starts.

Well, my senior years are here and writing has taken a back seat to my business, A Healing Spirit. Maybe even the third back seat in a huge SUV. So when I found decades worth of journals in some old boxes, I tried to resist reading them all, knowing I could get lost for days in memories.

How I wish I’d kept a journal more consistently! I’d always thought to myself. But paging through these old volumes I saw that I’d pretty much covered every major event in my life. Just flipping through at random, I found:

  • The day I met my late BFF, who inspired A Healing Spirit
  • My first 18 months in California with my 23 year old live in boyfriend (I was 33).
  • My single years after he and I split. The good, the bad and the ugly and especially the fun I had with a couple who were a bit older but so much fun. The wife died just this year.
  • The day I met the two daughters of a guy I briefly dated and fell in love with them instead of him.
  •  The first day of training for the volunteer work I did with the AIDS and HIV+ community.
  • Various trips for work and for pleasure. My marriage to my last husband and our honeymoon in Provence. Michael’s return.

And also, an entry from 2002 in which I’m looking out over the bay waiting for a colleague who was also a friend to arrive for drinks and dinner. That is, I thought she was a friend.

A couple years later she stabbed me in the back with a client in the most manipulative of ways. It cost me that client. It was what she intended.

I was blindsided and shocked, since that’s not the way I roll, and, I’d thought she was a friend. It seemed a strange thing for her to do and out of character, I thought at the time.

She died some years later, too young. She was a force in the community and so every year on the anniversary of her death I see social media posts lauding her and her legacy, and my mind goes back to what happened. I wonder if anyone else had an experience like mine. If so, they wouldn’t dare talk about it. Even I kept it to myself, mostly.

Thinking about it now, I can see I was an easy target.  I’ve never wanted or been impressed by power and position or even respected it. Secretly, I called chamber of commerce events masturbation lunches and our community leaders had a lot of them. Hours and hours spent congratulating themselves on how great they were. No, not for me. As a result, I held no position in the community or power over her one way or another. I just did my job to the best of my ability, grew my client base and was quite happy doing that. Self-actualized, even. So stabbing me in the back was risk-free, for her.

Lots of time has passed since that episode and some years since her death. Funny how things turn out.

I’m not a grudge holder, although I come from a long line of them, and she and I made peace of sorts a couple years before she died. You might say I forgave her. But I never did get over being puzzled at why she did what she did, given that the win she gained was ill-gotten, unethical. She didn’t even need it.

But none of that had yet unfolded as I waited for her in 2002, looking out at an overcast sky shadowing the Gulf and maybe, foreshadowing her all too short future.

54 comments on “Making sense of a puzzling legacy
  1. It’s a sad state of the human condition that we will scramble for things and do almost whatever it takes to get them whether we need them or not. I’m glad you and she were able to come to some sort of peace. That’s always a good thing for the spirit.

  2. robin rue says:

    What a shame that she did that, especially when she didn’t even need to. I often wonder why people do the things they do.

  3. Alli Smith says:

    Sometimes we just have to let it go. So glad you came to peace with the situation. I’ve found that holding on to past hurts can be damaging to my health so I try to forgive and forget. Sounds like she may have been jealous of you.

  4. Anosa says:

    It truly is a sad state of affairs when people we think are our friends stab us in the back. I have had a few and hope never to experience that again.
    What a shame that she stabbed you in the back and you still managed to make peace, it’s not easily achieved in this life time

  5. Jennifer says:

    It’s so interesting to find old journals and papers. Remembering events that were so heart felt at the time. My husband and I recently downsized and I came across old notebooks and papers from the 1970’s and 80’s. Oh, the angst.

  6. Franc Ramon says:

    It would really nice to have a journal of your life as it would be good to look back on those days. It’s really sad that you’ve been back stabbed by a friend. From what I know everything that happens to us, the good, the bad and the ugly is meant for a reason and it gives us lesson to keep us stronger.

  7. I had a friend who took my husband’s job – needless to say that friendship didn’t survive the betrayal. Who knows whether it will ever resurface? I doubt it and I think those of us with integrity will always struggle to understand those whose values fluctuate with circumstances. I’m glad you reconciled to some degree before she died.

  8. Jeanette says:

    It’s always sad to see a friendship go away because one person decided to take advantage of the other. I am glad that you guys made amends before she died. I would be in the same boat as you and still puzzled why she did in the first place.

  9. candy says:

    Feel the same way. Journaled when I was younger but it has been years since I really kept a journal. Been thinking about starting again just needed that push.

  10. I have an old suitcase full of journals that I’ve kept for the past 30 years or so, including ones I kept for each of my kids. The idea of reading them now overwhelms me! But I do think there are lessons in there I should reflect back on. I’m sure you learned a lot from this ‘friendship.’ It’s sad, but I think there are just people who thrive on tromping other people. You really have to feel sorry for them. There can’t be any true happiness or joy in their lives.

  11. Meagan says:

    I’m sorry you had to go thru this. Sometimes people can’t see beyond themselves.

  12. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    You have found a way to move on from this disturbing experience. Backstabbing by someone you regarded as a friend is one of the worst things to deal with.

    • Emily Bryant says:

      The same is true for those who pretend to work collegially with you and then take advantage of their relaionship. Funny how some people never see their own culpability in these situations and like Trump, blame everyone else for their frailties and unhappiness.

  13. Renee says:

    Sometimes we never find out “why”…I have a few of them and often wonder but don’t let it consume me anymore. People do things for various reasons and most of the time they make no sense…even to them. Peace to you.

  14. It’s fascinating to look back at your past. We go through so many evolutions. I just threw away some of my notes that I kept in boxes for so many years. Not enough room to store them. Now, I wish I’d read them again.

  15. lisa says:

    I used to journal all the time. I need to get back to it. I love being able to look back and see who I was and what I used to do through my old journals.

  16. Haralee says:

    She did it because she could is my take on that situation. There are people like that. Women go after boyfriends or husbands of women they know not because they want the guy but because they can. The girlfriend or wife is busy with kids or career and the other woman sees an opportunity. It is a power trip for them. Good on you, and no surprise, that you were able to forgive her transgression.

  17. Ellen Dolgen says:

    I never was a journal person. My kids were. They would gift journals to me, but I never wrote in them. I wish I had. I did make scrap books of every family event, party, or family moment that I wanted to cherish. I do have a wonderful memory (so far) so these pictures trigger stories from that moment in time.

  18. Kim says:

    It’s so true when you said you fell in love with the daughters of someone you dated. Sometimes you don’t want to break up with someone because of their family, not because of the person.

  19. Sarah Bailey says:

    It is such a shame sometimes I think people don’t think about the consequences, or perhaps they just don’t care, who knows 🙁

  20. Liz Mays says:

    It’s hard to know when to open yourself up and when to be cautious in business environments! It’s good that you ended up making peace with that person though.

  21. Barbara says:

    I started journaling after reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance. I did it for about fifteen years. It was very helpful in an uncertain time in my marriage. When we moved I didn’t get rid of them. I figured they might help my grandchildren understand me, some day.
    You really need to write that memoir, Carol. Mine’s almost ready to go.

  22. Pam says:

    It’s always interesting to look back on old journals and see how we thought things were back then. We all have complicated pasts and histories.

  23. Mary says:

    Carol, you definitely need to write that memoir of yours, and when you do I will be the first one to buy it! I so enjoy your storytelling.

  24. Kristin says:

    Such a great post, I love how you talk about letting go. Such a great reminder.

  25. Lori Vachon says:

    There’s many things that happen in our lives that we never get a clear answer to the WHY? Accepting, learning and moving on are often the best courses of action.

  26. Carolann says:

    People never stop amazing me – some of it is over their goodness and kind an loving spirit and some over how darn right evil they can be. She totally made you a target, Carol but you let the bullets bounce off it seems. Journals can be fun to read but you can’t move in just on! Love your new business. It’s amazing – like you!

  27. Theresa says:

    Betrayal like that would be very difficult for me to overcome. I am glad you were able to make a bit of peace with it and move on. The old journals sound neat. A wonderful way to go back and relive those precious moments you jotted down all those years ago.

  28. Some people just will do anything to get to the top, instead of lifting others with them they chose to push them beneath them. I am a grudge holder, it’s gotten less but some things I just can’t let go of.

  29. It’s unfortunate, that’s for sure. But I think it’s great that you’ve come to terms and accepted that it’s happened, it’s in the past, and all there’s left to do is move on. You’re strong!

  30. Scott says:

    My teachers always said to keep a journal, but this is the exact reason I didn’t. I didn’t want to look back at all the bad memories!

  31. Kita Bryant says:

    I am so happy you have come to peace with it. You persevered, and that says so much about you.

  32. I learned early, as a youngteen, that friends are often not real friends but rather just acquaintances. I had considered keeping a diary and sometimes wish I had.

  33. Annemarie LeBlanc says:

    I had a not so pleasant experience in one company I worked for. My boss was always picking on me, for reasons I could not understand. I poured out my heartaches to a girl who I thought was caring and compassionate. Turned out she was a snitch and told my boss every word I said (and more). I was so furious when I found out I could have slapped her but I did not. I would never go down to her level. I took the best option. I typed in a resignation letter and left the workplace. It was a lesson I always look back to, even to this day. I should be careful who I confide to, and the term “friend” should only be given to those deserving of our trust.

  34. Suzie says:

    The betrayal of a friend is worse than the break up of a relationship. I’ve been stabbed in the back by people over the years when I stopped being useful to them and it doesn’t get any easier

  35. Trying to figure out human beings can definitely be a challenge. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I guess reading old journals brings back both good and bad memories. Hopefully, it can be a learning experience.

  36. Reading old journals will definitely make realize how much you’ve gone through and how many people have been in and out of your life through the years. It’s funny how people who suddenly die are forgiven of everything they’ve done, no matter how much pain they cost a person and everything they did good is being recognized. I just never understood why we can’t say goodbye to someone as who he or she was instead of glorifying them.

  37. Maureen says:

    This is beautifully written even about a troubling time. A time that I am sure was hard to forgive, but alas we do need to forgive so that we are free of that weight. The weight of holding a grudge can weigh us down from enjoying our own life to our best abilities. I am sorry that happened to you, there are so many people online and offline these days that seem more selfish than I ever imagined, but if we keep being who we are, good things come. I am sorry to hear the woman passed away, it’s never easy when someone passes.

  38. Kristi says:

    I have kept a journal off and on, not for a while but I feel like I should get back into it. It is nice to look back and read all those thoughts that seemed important at the time.

  39. Nadalie says:

    Oh love that’s a rough experience. Reminds me to live my life with dignity and honesty. You never know when you’ve reach the end of your story. I want my legacy to be a positive one and for those I leave to have fond memories of me in their journals.

  40. Brianne says:

    I love that you kept your journals! I use to have all my thoughts in books at my parents house and I just found out they are no longer there. Cherish these!

  41. Amy Desrosiers says:

    That is way too sad that you were betrayed by a friend. I am so glad you found it in your heart to forgive before she passed..way too sad.

  42. Our Family World says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I would have done the same way if I was in that situation too. I am hoping that I am making a positive impact on the people around me. That is very important for me. .

  43. elizabeth 0 says:

    A bitter sweet tale and one that in our lifetime we might all experience… I almost want to know her name given her stature in the community but it doesn’t matter… you made peace with it years ago. 🙂

  44. Kelly Reci says:

    It’s always interesting to look back on old journals. It’s very painful that are friend betrayed us, Especially in work.Sorry to hear that happened to you, there are so many people these days that seem more selfish than I ever imagined. I am sorry to hear the woman passed away.

  45. Rosey says:

    I know a woman who is highly respected who did bad things to people. One was firing a woman JUST before she was set to be able to retire who had worked with us for many years…for a really dumb reason. BUT I did remember that woman had told my boss off when she was brand new to the company and being very bossy and condescending to others. I always wondered if she’d held a grudge and then used that to retaliate when she ended up being the boss. In any case it was a sad ending.

  46. I used to keep a journal sporadically. I am not sure if I could even find one of them now.

  47. Heather says:

    It doesn’t do any good to hold onto grudges. I try to let it go and move on, but that’s easier said than done. Glad you found peace.

  48. Crystal says:

    Flipping through old journals is such a fun exercise. It looks like you happened upon memories, both happy and sad. There’s wisdom in them all.

  49. Julie Syl says:

    It is nice to remember the writings that you have made years ago. The feeling is overwhelming whether it is sad or happy moments that you wrote. At least you know from yourself that you learned something with those situations. Sorry for that bad moments that you’ve gone through.

  50. Oh how sad that she did this to you. Sadder still that she’s passed and you can’t discover why she did what she did. I bet she felt bad after the fact, or at least I hope she did. I always try to find good in everyone.

  51. Our Family World says:

    I don’t have a journal. I tried maintaining a diary when I was young but it was not for me because I always had anxiety that someone might read it. I guess you would think I am not that trusting, huh? Well, I was betrayed and that hurt! Even if it happened decades ago, the hurt never waned, hence my attitude towards people who seem to be “overly friendly.” I learned my lesson. I could forgive, that’s not an issue. It is forgetting that is so hard for me to do. Every hurtful word lives in my memory. 🙁

  52. Rebecca Swenor says:

    Keeping journals has been something I have done off and on my whole life. When my boys were younger I would write things that were milestones for them on the calendars that I still have today. We sometimes never know the why and how people hurt us but maybe we are not suppose to know. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

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