Thursday, April 24, 2008

SWF revisited?

When I was in college, I had trouble picking my friends. When I look back, I am sure some of it was that I really hadn't had the option of having SO very many people from which to choose friends before, growing up in a town of about 3,000 folks. And, I made some poor choices. It was a learning experience, to say the least.

After a really bad back-stabbing/betrayal by the dorm floor friends like nothing I had ever experienced in my life (I came through high school relatively untraumatized, if you can believe it), I found a friend that I would later regret having made.

Let's call this girl, Joan. Well, Joan was the polar opposite of the piranha-like back-stabbing girls I'd had the misfortune of befriending in the dorms. She was funny in a quirky/off-beat kind of way, and very into being my friend. She was fiercely loyal to me. And, later I found out, she was a little scary in that loyalty.

We got through a year or so of new friendship and there were things that disturbed me a little about her that I started to take note of. She'd dated a guy that I had known from high school, whose mother was close friends with my own. The mother had warned my mom that Joan was very obsessive and had gone completely psycho on her son. Still, she had done nothing to me, so I let it go. There were a lot of stories she had about boyfriends and friends that she now hated--things that ended very badly for her with people no longer speaking. That never happened in my friendships typically.

And, I did get a little tired of her very persistent calls about us getting together to hang out, and it got much harder when I met my husband-to-be. Joan couldn't handle me having a boyfriend. She didn't like him one bit and made that pretty clear. My then-boyfriend found her to be completely obnoxious as well.

Around the same time, I started an internship at a very cool job that took up most of my weekends. She really did not take that well at all. It was as if she took this all very personally, me meeting Mr. Right and being motivated to have an actual JOB out of school. I was abandoning her. How dare I treat her that way? She'd come right out and tell me that's how she felt. She got quite bitter with me and I saw that scary side I'd been warned about before. I was glad to be too busy and avoided any serious confrontations thankfully.

After college, we had several really awful visits from Joan. The nice thing was, we only saw her a few times a year because we lived in different cities, so I thought I could still be nice and just keep things long distance and friendly...without triggering her psycho side. Things faded and then out of the blue I got a wedding invitation and letter from her asking me to attend--telling me how much it would mean to her after the many years that had gone by. So, I attended her wedding and then felt the full wrath of Joan, who basically insulted me in front of my little sister and berated me the entire reception for being such a crappy friend to her and abandoning her. I sat there thinking--I drove 4 hours to this thing for THIS?

So, it was at that point that I heeded all my family and husband's long advice to back away from this chick. She was crazy. I quit responding to emails and I basically fell of the planet. She's tried to reach me for several years, through reunion sites and so forth, and I never respond. I never will. I learned my lesson. I just hope I never bump into her in a dark alley or something...

All of that brings me to this next small tidbit, which has nothing to do with Joan, but everything to do with that feeling I got with her. I am wondering if I've managed to connect now with a potential second Joan in my life. All the warning signs are there.

When I quit my job at the magazine, I got an email from the past editor regarding some business. I explained that I'd left the magazine and joked that we should have lunch, as I was sure we'd have a lot of notes we could compare.

I must have struck a nerve. We had a couple of email exchanges after that, comparing notes and oohing and aahing over the irony of how close our experiences were. I thought that would be about it, told her I felt much better having known someone else who understood and went through the same ordeal I did. End of story, right? Well, not quite...

Then, she emails me and wants to take me up on that lunch offer. So, I agreed...thinking she probably just needs to vent more. We met up, she commented how awkward the whole thing was and then we had a very long lunch where she confided in me how the whole experience had affected her self-esteem and how she got closure by knowing that I was struggling too. We basically ended the lunch wishing each other well, as she is moving away soon and well..that was just that.

And, then the next day I got another email. She was wanting to have lunch again...this time with another editor who left unhappy. I have to admit, the flags were going up. The only thing I have in common with this woman really is this experience we both had. And, I've already moved on. I don't need closure or to keep talking about it. It's just not healthy or how I chose to handle it.

So, I politely told her that I'd see but that we were very busy this next few weeks with travel plans (which we truly are) and to keep me posted if they did have lunch and maybe I could come. And, I'll try to be busy that day should she go ahead and call, to be honest.

And, then today I got a card in the mail. I open it, and it's a Congratulations card and on the inside it says something about congratulations and good luck on your next endeavor. And, then it makes a reference to surviving the nightmare making us stronger and is signed by her.

Uh, what? My husband read the card and took one look at me and said, "Uh, hello? STALKER?" and walked out of the room chuckling.

Well, I don't think it is nearly that, but I have to admit is odd. Why would you send someone a congratulations card really? I mean, I haven't started some fantastic new job or something that she's heard about. It was just really...well, strange. And, the fact that it all made me think back to Joan again, makes me certain that I am glad this Joan is moving away very soon. And, the NEXT time I need to commiserate a bad job situation, I'll just pop open a bottle of wine and chat with a neighbor about it who hasn't a clue about what I do for a living!

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Blogger cher said...

I am very cautious about making friends too quickly. I had just moved to Houston and my new neighbor was super welcoming and friendly....too friendly. She would just show up at my doorstep and ask to come in for coffee...and then never leave. I am so happy she moved away!

2:35 PM, April 25, 2008  
Blogger Aunt Vanessa said...

It's such a pain trying to weed out the crazies sometime! I've had a few of those myself and now I'm quite leary about making friends. What a shame. Glad your new stalker's moving away!

8:57 AM, April 26, 2008  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I was a bum magnet for years. Finally got over it. Sounds like you are a stalker magnet. Yikes! Not sure what you should do to stop it. Luckily, you seem to be recognizing the signs before it becomes a problem.

9:54 PM, April 28, 2008  
Blogger Nicole said...

That is creepy. Trust your instincts! They are serving you well. Good thing she's moving. But there is the whole cyber-stalking option thing to worry about now :-O

11:21 AM, April 29, 2008  

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