Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friend or Foe?

While working on my new journal pages for my website, something strange happened to my Facebook news feed. Whenever one of my Friends liked or commented on a status of one of their Friends, a stranger to me, the stranger's status and all the associated comments were displayed on my news feed. This happened one day, disappeared the next, and returned the day after. It was odd.

That's not what this post is about.

One stranger's status was about her ex-husband remarrying and her hope that someone warned his new wife about his alcoholism and abusiveness because none of her friends who knew him had the decency to warn her. She ended her status with, "SHAME ON YOU!"

I know exactly what she means because when I was 18, I got engaged to an abusive man before knowing he was abusive. A couple of my friends from high school knew what he was like but didn't warn me because I was so happy they didn't want to spoil my happiness. They said they didn't want to hurt my feelings. As a result, I ended up in the emergency room.

Fortunately, my friends owned up to their mistake and apologized although that didn't happen until several weeks after I got him out of my life with the help of the police, my apartment building's security guard, and my dad.

Years later, I discovered a true friend in Roxie whom I've mentioned in previous posts. Not only does she support me with my writing, when I got close to a friend with the expectation of more, she warned me about an undesirable aspect of his that had great potential for causing problems if we had married. Unbeknownst to her, I already knew about it and because he was in counseling for it, I thought it would work out somehow.

My affinity for the man ended when he abandoned me, not saying a word nor giving me a hug or anything but keeping his distance when my mother died unexpectedly. That's not what good friends do and there's no way anyone should entertain any thoughts of marriage whatsoever to someone who won't stand by you during a hard time like the death of a parent.

But, because of my supposed friendship with him, I learned that Roxie is a good friend because she has my back. She has proved that she wants only good for me.

Unfortunately, none of the comments for the Facebook stranger's status acknowledged her pain at the betrayal of her friends who should have warned her about her ex. The best comment reassured her that she will find a good man. The others told her to put it behind her and move on.

I was appalled. Although they probably had good intentions, what they did was like telling a victim of a traffic accident to get up and walk away after being hit by a drunk driver instead of helping her get to a hospital. As a result, I sent her a message telling her to ignore them and go get counseling because that's the best way to get over the kind of injury she sustained and be able to move on with her life. She thanked me for taking the time to give good advice to a total stranger.

Another type of friend was revealed when I posted "Understanding Rape." A woman with a rape recovery blog had linked to my post and when I went to check out her blog, I read that some of her friends blamed her for being raped. Yes, her own friends blamed her for being the victim of a violent crime! There are also supposed friends who are stupid enough to have the nerve to ask the rape victim if she enjoyed it. Who enjoys being violated?! Talk about revictimization.

Yet another type of friend was exposed when a woman was going through recovery and healing for being raped and abused by her husband whom she eventually divorced. The friend didn't simply say, "It's over. Move on," as another callously insensitive friend did, this one spent hours and hours over several days badgering the victim to abandon her recovery and healing process.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

What kind of friend are you, a true friend like Roxie, or a foe in disguise like the others I described?


Rox said...

Thanks Gail! I feel the same way about you, a true friend! All the troubles I had with my Ex, dating back to 2000, you were always there for me with great advice! It always helps to talk to someone who has walked where you are walking and can relate! Unfortunately well meaning "friends", that haven't walked that road, don't have a clue and therefore say hurtful things. Thanks friend!

Gail Rhea said...

Thank you very much for your friendship and your comment. I appreciate you! One of the reasons I posted this entry was to educate the ignorant, hurtful, but well-meaning friends so they know to behave better. The other reason was to let the foes-in-disguise know that they aren't deceiving us and will be dumped if they don't reform.