Friday, August 28, 2009

About friendship and some ancient history

Last week's Relief Society lesson came from The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. A good, simple lesson, one of those that made it so that you couldn't help but love the Prophet Joseph even more. And this quote he said, I latched right on to:

"I don't care what a man's character is; if he's my friend--a true friend, I will be a friend to him, and preach the Gospel of salvation to him, and give him good counsel, helping him out of his difficulties."

--Joseph Smith

And it got me to thinking, am I true friend? Have I been a good friend to those I really, truly care about? And I know the answer is no. I know there is so much more I could do, I should do. I know since I have gotten caught up in my own little life, I have closed myself off too much from the people who could benefit from my friendship. And I believe my life could be enriched through strengthening friendships.

The lesson came kind of at an interesting time for me. I had recently re-established some old connections with friends on facebook. I was also starting to develop some friends through adoption connections. And one of the conversations I recently had with a friend made me think about the kind of friend I once was, and the kind of friend I would like to be.

Now, I am one of those people who always believes the best of nearly everyone. I can be very forgiving, and I am always hoping that those who struggle to make correct decisions will some day be able to recognize the good person that I see inside them. There was a time in my life when I was very much attracted to these "lost causes", not that I was doing much in the way of trying to save them.

***I must apologize here. I started this post a couple days ago, and never quite figured out where I was going with it, so I just left it. Let's see if I can salvage it and come up with something reasonable to say***

This brings me back to a time, some 16 years ago. I had a friend who had come to me with sort of an apology for the way he had treated me a few years before. I need to be clear, it was nothing bad. I think he was working the 12 step program and felt he needed to make some kind of restitution with me. And then, not much later, I felt the need to reconcile with someone else, a guy I myself had wronged.

I hadn't heard from him in something like 9 months. He had been my boyfriend for a few months a year before. I used to visit him often at his home in Salt Lake. And he came to visit me once in Blanding. But when I told him I was pregnant, he disappeared from my life. He just quit calling. I later found on this was due to some deception on my little brother's part. It turns out the guy had called, but my brother told him I had moved, and he never told me that he had called. It wasn't meant to be, and I know if it had been that important to me, I could have sought him out.

Now, that was what I was doing. I was aware that he had moved, because I hadn't been able to reach him at his old place. I traveled to Salt Lake and went into a store where I knew he had once worked. I asked his old boss if she knew how I could reach him. She was hesitant to tell me. Then I pulled out the locket that the adoptive family had given me as a gift. Inside was a picture of me in the hospital, holding our baby girl one last time before I signed the papers relinquishing my rights to parent her, placing her for adoption. Immediately, the woman gave me the information I needed. There was no phone number, but an address where I could find him.

He was living with another girl. Honestly, that is what he offered me when I told him I was pregnant. But I knew I would never settle for that. And he had misunderstood when I told him no. Later, as we visited, he told me that he thought when I refused to move in with him that meant I believed the baby was someone else's. I was okay with where my decisions leading up to the placement had taken me in my life, and so I felt no regret over this lost relationship. But I did feel badly that there had been some deception, on my part. I felt I owed him some information (although it was very late) about what had happened to his child. I showed him pictures, and explained how I had chosen a family for her, with a big brother and two caring, financially secure parents.

He was devastated, or so he said. Even when I was with him, I knew this guy was a player. He was always flattering me, and playing to my weaknesses. I knew he was full of sh--, even when I had been with him, but I ate up the attention, even as false as it felt. I don't mean to judge him, which I realize it sounds now like I am. I just realized as I was meeting with him again, after so many months, that we were not compatible. It was a time of closure for me.

But he told me his girlfriend he was living with had just recently miscarried their baby after carrying it about 5 months. So this news from me was a double blow. He was really feeling the loss. Then, as his girlfriend went to pay the check for the lunch we had just eaten together, he asked me if we couldn't get back together. Like I said, I was in a good place, and I knew I did not belong with this guy. Not to mention, how faithful can you expect a guy to be when he is asking you out behind his girlfriend's back. I tried to be gentle, but I was honest with him. It wasn't going to happen, but I still wanted to be friends.

I remember he called me a couple weeks later, and wanted to see me. I was coming up to the area anyway, so I agreed. I felt like I owed it to him, to have some kind of relationship, since I had practically given his child away without even asking his input in the matter. I remember visiting in a car, near a movie theatre in the vicinity of the neighborhood where he was currently living. He said he had broken up with his girlfriend. He asked me to kiss him. I told him no. Honestly, his girlfriend was probably back at their apartment. It was all a little suspicious. But it wasn't that stopping me. I just knew I couldn't go there again.

Then he told me I had always been kind of uppity like that. Like I was so much better than him because I was a Mormon, and also I had more money than him. Well, when I was with him, I hadn't realized there was any kind of disparity in our lifestyles. I knew he wasn't LDS, but it obviously didn't stop me being attracted to him. I never realized I had acted like I was better than him. Although I do remember teasing him for the way he pronounced some things. He was from Texas (I think), and some of the things he said were a little different. I am such a grammar snob; I probably was even worse back then.

I remember this set me back a little. I just hate thinking I may have offended someone, or been rude or anything like that. I felt really badly that I had made him feel that way. I always try to be accepting of people, no matter what their lifestyle choices may be. I never meant to be uppity.

When I think about it today, though, I think it is something I still need to work on. I don't mean to exclude people who are not in my same circle of friends, religion, neighborhood, whatever. But I think sometimes I may offend, just because I like to stay in my little comfort zone. You know, how the missionaries come over for dinner and then ask who you know who might be interested in learning the Gospel, and you realize you only ever spend time with the people that you see at Church all the time. I could do better.

I have to postscript the story of Cossette's baby daddy, though. I told him about LDS Social Services, which was the agency I had placed Cossette through. I gave him some paperwork to fill out, so that her parents could know more about her biology. Then, when I asked my counselor if he had received the paperwork, he told me for confidentiality reasons, he couldn't tell me much. He did tell me that the guy had contacted the agency, but he said the name I had given them for him wasn't really his name. His real name was completely different from the name I knew him by. All this time I had known him, "known" him, you know, and I didn't even know him. So, maybe I shouldn't feel so bad for being a snob to him. Maybe when he said that it was just another way of him trying to manipulate me. Boy am I glad those days are over!

Now, as I look back, another thought has occured to me. It seems like her sealing to her family came a little later than expected. I watch my blogging friend going through a court battle with her adopted son's birthfather, and a horrifying realization comes to me. Did he fight the adoption back then? I don't honestly know. Seriously, if the agency withheld information like that from me, after making that sacrifice as a birthmother, I would be so angry. Hmm, I may never know. It's okay. At least I know she is where she belongs. And I am in a good place now. Just trying to be a better friend. All is right in the world.

1 comment:

Becks said...

It's always fun to learn more about you. It's inspiring how you are so willing to share...I'm not sure I will ever be that confident or trusting. Thank you for all the glimpses into your life!

I love the quote on friendship. I've always considered myself a fiercely loyal friend, but those kind of statements always get me can I do better? Where can I improve? Am I really the type of friend I want to be? Good quote and thought...thanks for sharing!