Last week I came in from turning out horses and my wife was crying again. Earlier she had a falling out with a friend who happens to be both a business client and competitor. This friend was going through some difficult times. Over the last eight years our friend had made a series of bad personal and professional decisions and the chickens were coming home to roost. Earlier this year she had announced to everyone she was closing her businesses and moving back home. That was the easy part. She wanted to escape her life! Her problem is that she did not see that escape was going to be very, very difficult. I think the poet, Kay Ryan, says it best:
“The chickens are circling and blotting out the day. The sun is bright, but the chickens are in the way. Yes, the sky is dark with chickens, dense with them. They turn, and then they turn again. These are the chickens you let loose one at a time and small, various breeds. Now they have come home to roost, all the same kind at the same speed.”
I am sure our friend did not think that closing the businesses and parts of her personal life could be this hard. Initially she encouraged her clients to leave and most had already left. However she was much more successful at cutting revenue than costs. She was still a long way from being able to move home. The longer it took, the more trapped she felt. When my wife told her that a mutual client wanted to move over to our facilty, the falling out between friends had finally begun.
Earlier in the evening when my wife had come home from the falling out, my wife had wanted to call her friend up and talk some more. My wife was upset and she wanted closure. My wife felt she was doing the right thing for both the mutual client and her friend. The mutual client wanted to move to our facility and thought it was the right time. My wife felt her intentions and actions were honest to both her friend and client. She dearly wanted her friend to believe her! Although I hope and pray for a better life for our friend and her family, I told my wife that closure with her friend was not going to happen. If you call her it will be about making you feel good. She will not feel good about this reagardless of what you say. Your friend has a lot more suffering to go through and there is nothing you can do about it. When you think about your pain, it is only a small fraction of what your friend is going through. Forgiving her will be your only solace. Like a long, slow movie our friend is going to suffer a predictable series of unfortunate events until she hits bottom. Our friend had ignored a lot of simple advice over the years and is even less likely to follow our advice we offer now. More than ever she is trusting her own judgement. It is unlikely that she will believe in the very core of her heart that she needs to make personal changes until she finally sees that she has hit bottom. Until that time she will indiscriminatingly blame her problems on her husband, children, friends, and clients. It is not going to be a pretty picture. Watching a friend suffer is never easy. Having the patience to wait and watch for things to work themselves out will be very difficult.
Assuming that our friend survives the bottom, we may be involved in the growth and healing process. Then again, we may not be involved. Healing is both very hard and easy. Learning to enjoy the simple things done with great love makes a person and a family more fully alive. This part is so easy yet so hard. The key is letting go of the things you cannot control and never were very important. The prospect of our friend and her family making the transition to a family fully alive is a very appealing goal. In my heart I remain open to the process even though I dread it. The part we will have to give of ourselves to help them grow and heal will be painful.