The first thing I saw this morning was a blast email from the obit site, Legacy.com, reminding me of the death of someone I had known. The reminder was meant to sell memorial gifts but it sent me back in time. The deceased was related to a long-time friend and I thought about that person and that brought to mind the Pittsburg synagogue shooting in October 2018.
I was sitting in my family room watching a CNN reporter do short bios of the 11 victims killed by a gunman while they were worshipping and I was in tears. I was thinking about the violence and hate that the (now former ) president and his ilk were promoting in our country and I was grief-stricken for these victims and their families.
Just then, my phone rang.
“What are you doing?” this long-time friend asked.
“I’m watching coverage of the synagogue shooting, heartbroken at the hatred that’s been unleashed at this country,” I said.
What she said next stunned me.
“Yes!” she said, officiously. “And so much of the hatred is aimed at President Trump! It is disgusting. I am so glad that we and our friends support him in a big way. We talk about this stuff all the time.”
Stunned into silence. So many things about that statement.
First, when you call a friend and they are obviously upset, the usual first response is to provide comfort or sympathy. Especially if you are a “church-goer.” Did not happen.
Second, in decades of friendship I had never once heard a political opinion or comment from her. She just didn’t pay attention to politics and never talked about it. But now she did? She had to know that what she said would light me up because my political views are up front and known. Its pointed intentionality made it an even nastier response.
Talk about twisted
Finally, no one in their right mind, who HAD any mind, would compare the kind if vitriol trump tacitly approved, the MURDER of Jews, with any kind of hatred for him. This twisted thinking is one that trump supporters have to do in order to feel ok about supporting him.
It’s rare that I can name a time and date that a friendship ended, but I can with this one. It was the last time we spoke. Truth is, the friendship had been hanging by a thread for a long time. We’d had less in common as the years went by and this nasty comment pushed me over the edge.
But then, this is how it is, sometimes, with relationships of any kind. There are the little things that happen, that, alone, are not big enough to make a difference. Then there’s the day when the many little things become too heavy a weight to ignore, a single disrespectful thing gives us a clearer view and pushes us over the edge.
I don’t end friendships easily. I give more credit to history than it deserves. I give most people a lot of latitude and try to remember the common ground we once had.
Day of reckoning
But. I’ve come to see that I am tolerant to a fault and I endure situations that others would not. I work hard to find common ground. But sometimes, there is that day of reckoning.
It’s pretty clear that she saw as little value in our friendship at this point in our lives as I did. It’s ironic that this national tragedy would be the thing that made me act, and not one of the other, more personal things that could’ve been a catalyst.
And really, I didn’t act. No big dramatic. scene. I’ve just never had occasion to speak to her again. And she has never made an occasion to speak to me.
More than once longtime close friends have asked why I tolerate behavior they have seen for years. It’s a good question. My rationale, at least to myself, is always the things we shared in the past. I think of the ways I have supported those people in the past, in big ways and small. And I think of ways they have supported ME, because they have. And I ask myself if that is enough, given current events.
Sometimes, though, I have to recognize that any common ground was in the past and attempts to find it now are futile. Or that their support of me is selective.
Setting limits is a necessary part of a healthy life. It’s taken me a long time to learn to do it effectively. But now that I have I seem to be doing it more often, with a deeper understanding of the kind of people I want in my life.
How about you? Has there ever been one thing that pushed you over the edge in a relationship?