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Letter from America

Sullivan County, New York,
June 13th 2012.

The first two installments in this, my current series of articles, were based on the friendships I have made and treasured in the early years of my life. At first I spoke of my adolescent friendships; their fragility, their naïve wonders and innocence. Next I shared my growing years; an evolution of self and the discovery of true and lasting friendship. My previous “revelations” were honest, sometimes bittersweet yet heartwarming and uplifting. The story I will share with you now deals with a darker, more painful side of friendship. It’s the story of friends I treasured and loved; people who touched my life and, in one way or another, broke my heart. Lovers you are thinking? Oh no. Not at all!Ellen NeumannEllen NeumannI have always been attracted to needy people.

I feel a great desire to fix the world; to right the wrongs of society; to salve the wounded and to champion the weak. I am a nurturer. If possible, I would take in every lame duck on the planet and attempt to “heal” him or her.  This is nothing new. I have always been of this persuasion. This has brought me great joys and great sorrows as well.

If I am to be brutally honest, I will tell you that these friendships were and are very lopsided. Heavy on my shoulders, the weight of carrying them is sometimes more than I can bear both physically and emotionally. I must and should not complain for I initiated these relationships of my own free will. No one ever forced me to be a friend to them. I entered into these volatile relationships with open eyes and a loving heart. I truly believe that there is value and goodness in most people. This belief, although tarnished, blistered and shaken, remains alive and a very real part of me.

When I started this article I wanted to name names and get really specific by writing a sort of “tell-all tale”. But no! I can’t do that. What purpose would it serve to unload, accuse and blame the friends who disappointed and disillusioned me throughout my lifetime? Although I have suffered at the hands of these friends, I have benefited from each and every one of them as well.

Friend “A”, although self destructive and haphazard was beyond a shadow of a doubt the kindest, most gentle and loving person I have ever met. Pure of heart would describe her perfectly. Friend A’s “modus operandi” was unique when you consider the fact that she never set her mind to damage or injure another living creature. Her abusive activities were directed solely at herself. Because of this, she did severe damage to those of us she cared for. Ultimately, she suffered a debilitating illness and died. I miss her. A lot! I wonder if I could have done something differently, if I could have been a better friend in some way. I will always wonder.

Friend B shook my faith in women. She was supportive of me when my child was gravely ill.  She was gossipy, funny and full of life. She could always make me laugh. We spent many hours and evenings in our respective kitchens regaling our life trials and triumphs. Then one day, she walked out of her life, hooked up with “the love of her life”, leaving her four small children with her husband. My first thought was “she had lost her mind! Mother’s do not leave their children for any reason EVER. Not in my world.” For weeks she sat in my kitchen, telling me of her new life and the man in it. After a time, I realized she had not lost her mind but instead had selfishly created a world for herself that did not include her four precious small children. I could no longer sit across the table from her and listen to her tales of her new life when I knew her babies were sitting in their home a few miles away crying for their mother. I ended the friendship in anger and never looked back. The loss of it still weighs heavy on my heart. Should I have tried harder to understand? Was there something I could have done to help her see the horror of what she had done? I will never know the answer.

Ellen NeumannEllen NeumannFriend C was another story! She was funny; she was community minded and proactive. We shared many common interests. Our friendship came on fast and furious and ended in the same way. I did not see the end coming, did not detect the flaw. I was shocked and terribly hurt when this woman accused me of being dishonest. I did not see that coming and was innocent of her accusation. It was and remains inconceivable to me that anyone who knows me would take such an action. Live and learn, painfully in this case. Lesson learned: keep my distance, shelter my heart and people cannot hurt me. Except that is not really my way of doing things. I still choose poorly at times but I am getting better at avoiding people and situations that lead me to dead-end relationships.

So there you have it. The bad news is I have failed miserably several times. The good news is that those times are few and far between. I continually strive to be a true and great friend to those I meet and connect with. I am after all the eternal optimist!

Next week in my final installment of this series of articles on friendship, I will speak of the friends I have made in a way I never dreamed possible!

Talk to me! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." mce_' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy84562 + '\'>'+addy_text84562+'<\/a>'; //-->

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