Katie's story here is about expressing me. I met Katie when I moved to Vermont at the end of 1992. I might have actually met her before, but I primarily knew her husband from Go. A conversation with him was why I chose Vermont. It was during that conversation that I first imagined being independent of Bruce and when I knew I could not stay in Hawaii any longer as I could not bear to see Bruce with Sue fawning over each other. Again I am sidetracking... point is that was the beginning of my friendship with Katie.
I use the term "friendship" loosely. I was her friend in that I liked her for who she is. I do not like a lot about her, but I enjoyed her company and conversation. I could have fun with her. We could talk about a lot of things. We don't agree politically, but we could have good conversations about stuff we disagreed with, which I love to do. I listened to her regarding her jerk of a husband and regardless of her part in the messed up relationship, it was and is easy to allow her to vent both the good and the bad. It's the kindness that is who I am that accepts people as they are, even when I don't respect it.
But when Katie's husband got ill. I saw ways I could be helpful that others don't typically do. I gave her my time in ways others don't see and are not willing to. I helped with the kids when she needed to take him to the hospital and I enjoyed doing it and being with her kids. I vividly remember picking them up from school on 9/11. After he died, I didn't make the funeral. I don't do that kind of public thing well, but afterwards, when others disappeared, I was there for her. I was there for her to speak freely about both how she hated him and loved him. I understood her feelings and I understood her need for expression. I insisted on helping her clean out her husband's study, because she could 't face it alone. I knew that so I made it easy for her ... like I wanted to do it. And I did ... out of kindness .. not to do the job. What I did for her and her children during this time was all about what she needed and I did it out of kindness, because it mattered to her and it made a difference.
She called at the beginning of last week ... late at night ... and noticed I had been snowed in and was concerned. I was surprised that she said that I had made a real difference to her when it mattered, not because I didn't know I did, but because I didn't know she knew. She wanted to help me, because she feels in debt to me ... because of how much I gave to her. I am not surprised that she feels a need to clear a debt ... but the thing is ... from my point of view, she owes me nothing. Oddly, of all people I have known, she is the most able to help me in critically useful ways. I would never have asked her, because I would feel I am using her, because being her friend is not good for me anymore ... because she is mean and I don't like it or want it.
Oddly, her offering puts a different spin on it. It's a kindness to let her help me and balance a debt she feels, and it benefits me. When she offered .. she included saying that she did not judge me and knew I was depressed and not well. Katie judges everyone and I was guarded when she offered, making sure she was aware of how bad things are for me. Still, I was pleased and very surprised that on Friday when she came and brought a guy to plow me out and said she was paying for it. At that point, I had accepted being snowed in for the winter. I knew she wasn't there out of kindness, that she was being generous and paying back a debt she felt she owed. I know she is judgmental, but there was moment where I had hoped she could not be and that she was there to help me in any way she could ... as she stated.
But she had not changed ... which doesn't lessen the extraordinary generous gift she has given me. She was helping me gather trash and recycling when friction occurred (when I was clearly aware of it).. I wanted to burn stuff which would help heat the house verses toss it, and I wanted to recycle properly. It bugged her that I wouldn't do it her way ...
I have difficulty seeing a way out when there are too many steps .. and she stated she understood and that I did not have my priorities correct and that she could see the way out ... I know I get overwhelmed too easily so I was relieved... Hope creeped in.
Earlier, when clearing my driveway, she said she would move my car out to the road ... to be honest, I didn't have the focus to assert myself and I say I would do it ... I was letting her help and in that mode, I didn't see the option to shift. In backing out she hit the side of the snowbank and continued to fight against it to get out ... I was too late in stopping her and she cracked my bumper ... hind-sightedly, I realize that while the damage was likely unintentional, she was pissed at me for having such a nice car, so it is not a surprise it was damaged. Outside, after all was cleared, she first brought up the issue with my car (after she had damaged it).
She feels I should sell my car for something cheaper and is frustrated that I won't do that. Thing is that it makes no sense. I would end up with a car that needs more maintenance which would come at unexpected moments and it wouldn't handle the snow as well. She also thinks I must immediately hire a plowing service. I disagree. I was willing to live with the consequences and manage. Still am. I am going to have to spend $600 on heating gas in February, just to keep the house in the 40's.
I understand that for Katie to come, the driveway has to be clear and that she won't clear me out again .. I wouldn't expect her too. But her insistence on my spending on plowing for her to help me deal with my bathroom (unrelated) is how she wants to offer her help. I won't do this knowing the cost is losing her help.
Thing is, she could really fix my bathroom so I have a shower ... and so the floor won't leak down onto the sills and rot them. I could have a working shower with her help and that is no small task or offer. In fact it is critically important to my improved well-being.
I understand what she is offering and I understand the costs ... and she is asking me to think about it ... I won't sell my car and I explained why. I cannot see hiring a plow service half way into the season but I can see the need to keep the driveway accessible and that I take a risk that I can't manage it.
I understand her wanting my boxes and burnables out of the kitchen and told her I would burn stuff before she came back or agree to throw it out ... (of course I will move some into the back room, but I didn't say that). It's not that it's necessary for her to be able to help me, but for her to be willing.
What I want from the bathroom fix is a floor that doesn't leak into the basement sills. How that is accomplished is irrelevant to me, in fact, the simplest, easiest way is ideal. Since she has to go through the entry and kitchen, compromising/agreeing in that cleanup is reasonable to me. To me it is being considerate. How I do it is up to me (which pissed her off).
She wants to help me. Helping her help me is good for me and kind. But I do draw a line. Katie called it willful. Yes, I am stubborn. This is the dictionary definition:
(of an immoral or illegal act or omission) intentional; deliberate : willful acts of damage.
• having or showing a stubborn and determined intention to do as one wants, regardless of the consequences or effects : the pettish, willful side of him.Pettish meaning:
(of a person or their behavior) childishly bad-tempered and petulant : he comes across in his journal entries as spoiled and pettishI understand Katie and I respectfully disagree. I told her that I wouldn't tell her she should sell her property because her taxes are too high ... so she really shouldn't be telling me to sell my car because she doesn't think I can afford a new car ... even though it is 3 years old. Her rationale is that she doesn't own a new car so I should not, which is silly. I also explained why it would not make sense, even financially, to do what she wants. And unlike her, I can't fix my own car and manage that. Having a reliable car is smarter based in who I am.
Katie has not said she won't help me further. I know she is driven by a sense of debt. I told her she owes me nothing but I know that falls on deaf ears. I have some guilt about negotiating and letting her help me. I am willing to be a friend to her out of kindness, and may enjoy her at times, but not out of choice. So I feel that I am using her. Thing is... I didn't call her and I have not asked her to do anything. The guilt comes from knowing I could benefit greatly by allowing her to appease her sense of debt ... it kind of seems wrong both ways. The guilt comes from not caring that she helps me for me. I think I wouldn't feel guilty about the kindness of letting her help me if it did not benefit me so well.
To be honest, she was trying to blackmail me with her generosity ... by having me do things her way when I disagree. This is really normal for people. Conditional generosity is the norm.
I think the rationale is that no one is going to help someone destroy themselves ... like giving money to an addict for food, knowing it will buy drugs. But feeding an addict a warm meal is of itself of value, whether or not they change their life. Unless you believe the only people worthy of help are those who will change for the better from the help.
Kindness is different. It doesn't depend on any outcome following it ... it's about the actual act and it's for the benefit of the person receiving it as they perceive it.
I think Katie called me willful, because she saw I was willing to let her walk away, if she was unwilling to offer what I would like, without me accepting her other conditions. I feel guarded in my heart to want anything from her. She doesn't understand my anxiety or my safety issues and I know it's hard for her to accept the pace that I can manage.
I cleaned up the kitchen more, doing the dishes for the first time in at least a month, and bagging cans and trash from my room. Over the next few days I will put stuff into the car, especially good will and returnable bottles and cans. I am able to do this because she needs it done to help me ... and she can't know where it's going or she would be upset that I just didn't toss it out in the garbage. I know it is fucked up that I can do it for her (for me) but not just for me.
I had tried not to hope with Katie and thought I had not, until she backed off because I was "willful." That's when I realized I was believing I might have what I had thought was not possible. When I saw possible dissipate ... that's when I realized I had opened my heart a tad more than I intended.
I let go of the friendship with her, intentionally, after she came to the house to take me to hospital when I was extremely ill, and then proceeded to bitch about Christie doing more (she was sick, but on her way to healing). I was so ill and she was so mean .. I didn't want that in my life anymore. This wasn't the first time, but it was the last. Ironically, she brought that up when she was here ... once again complaining about how my kids didn't help me enough (this, after stating on the phone how as parents we raise our children to grow up and go off on their own to flourish). This time, while I explained my daughter's position, I wasn't upset in any way. I have no connection to her anymore. I am not her friend. While I have never agreed with her opinions of my children or how she expects her own to owe her raising them, now I am not even connected to her at all. I don't miss her in my life or want her in it. I remember this incident clearly ... but that she did and still felt critical is so very telling.
She mentioned she didn't have a mate ... and that it could be because she is rude. I think it is because she is mean. I didn't say this or really address her comment. Her attacks on my children are no longer mean ... they are irrelevant. Before I had thought of her as a friend.
In the years that I knew her, we had hours upon hours of conversation and I was very helpful to her. She saw me as wise. I gave her a place to voice her issues with her husband, and perspective on understanding who he was and how he always was that way. This time I reminded her how he had tested her the day they met and that she had shown she was willing to accept his abusive, rude manner. I said he tested her and took her on as his wife when she showed a huge tolerance for his nasty behavior. He chose her because she was willing to let him treat her poorly. Besides she is better off today, for who she has become, as he never valued or supported her achievements or abilities if he felt they out-shined him, in fact he actively disliked any sign of that and interfered or discouraged her.
Christie really doesn't like her. I am more tolerant. I also don't like her, but I can see the good in her. That she would actively pay back a debt she feels she owes, without being asked, is a good thing about her. It's as close as she might ever come to kindness. Just clearing my driveway of the three feet of snow was extremely generous.
She also told me I could come and take a shower at her place at anytime. I think she was disturbed that I turned her down on Friday. It was too much. I made it to the dump, but not to the post office.
Christie called in the middle of the night and I spoke with her and Tim for a long time ... until their line went dead. I will call her back today once she wakes up.