Thursday, August 14, 2008

serenity now

i'm starting with this lovely, calming image of a dahlia that's growing in my greenhouse because i need to quiet my mind and stop obsessing. but for some strange reason, that's proving difficult at the moment. to explain why, i have to back up a bit.

like about 3 years. 

three summers ago, we visited my family in the US. our best friends, a danish couple, and their three children came along with us. they spent every minute of this vacation depending upon us (mostly me) for their every experience. i had been working very hard and was looking forward to relaxing and seeing my family. but, the vacation was far from relaxing. 

we drove about 4000km all over the upper midwest. we went up tall buildings, we experimented in museums of science and industry, we ate huge plates of food, we camped, we rode horses, we took a balloon ride, we went to a baseball game, we ate great food, we explored a cave, we set up a real teepee, we ate some more food, we walked around the devil's tower, we shopped in outlet malls, we had a milkshake in an authentic diner somewhere in minnesota, we saw them blasting at crazy horse and cleaning the face of mt. rushmore. 

we spent two and a half weeks doing it all. and i spent that time leading the way and making decisions as to what we would do because no matter how many brochures i spread out on the picnic table the night before, the next morning when it was time to decide what to do, everyone looked at me. and then when i decided, they muttered to themselves afterwards that it was too touristy or too expensive or there were too many norwegians (true story, at the cave in the black hills). i did not find this very relaxing. in fact, i found it rather stressful and i was stressed out to begin with.

to compound the situation, we learned that our friends' english just wasn't very good. this, of course, caused stress for them. when you're in a loud restaurant and the waiter rattles of 16 choices of dressing and 6 different choices of potato, you feel pretty overwhelmed. if you're the husband in this couple, you get really, really pissy and starting throwing the "f" word around left and right, because it packs a whole lot less punch in danish than it does in english. and you are somehow so obtuse that you don't realize that you're in fact in a place where you may think you're speaking danish, but all anyone around you hears is "fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck." and that people, especially people in the midwest, do not find this charming.

so, when we got home, i thought, we take a cooling off period and we spend less time with these friends. but, they were so traumatized by the traffic the last day in chicago (we were, thankfully, in separate mini-vans for the vacation), that they called and  "resigned" our friendship. that's the exact phrase they used, "vi opsiger vores venskab." like it was a job or something. 

for three years, i have a felt a bit bad about this. not on a daily basis, but occasionally. i have especially felt really bad that although my family went out of their way to make sure these friends had a great time (cooking breakfast for 10 people isn't easy, but my mom did it uncomplainingly), it was never acknowledged by our friends. my sister arranged and paid for the balloon ride. my aunt hauled out SEVEN kayaks so everyone could kayak on the river. my own services as tour guide aside, don't you think they should have had the decency to send a small thank you note to my family for the great experiences they had?

do you think they did this?

you'd be right if you said, "no, i don't think they did."

and that's what's bothered me for 3 years. that and that i really NEEDED that vacation and it wasn't relaxing at all.

so, when planning the big party for our housewarming, we decided to bury the hatchet and invite these people. i sent them an invitation. i requested a response (for the caterer) by aug. 1. it is today august 14. we called and asked whether they were coming. they were very pleasant on the phone, but had another engagement, so they were not coming. but do you think they had the decency to tell us that? bear in mind they had received a written invitation in the mail with a specific request for RSVP by a specific date.

you'd be right if you said, "no, i don't think they did."

and so i'm all riled up again and in need of serenity now. this should SO totally not bother me at all after three years. it is completely in character. so why am i hurt and bothered by it? what on earth is wrong with me? why does it bother me that they are clearly rude and badly raised? it's really not my problem, but yet it's me feeling badly about it. they surely show no sign of it. the only thing that should bother me is my own stupidity for having thought it would be ok to invite them.

actually, in writing this, i do realize that there is some humor in the situation, so it will be ok, but man does it in some sense make me feel sad and hurt all over again. and that's not much fun. when will i ever learn? 

* * *

thankfully, just after writing all of this, on truth cycles, i found a place to make myself my own serenity goddess. so perhaps she'll help me (i gave her a skull necklace to scare off all of the evil):


d smith kaich jones said...

Well, I'm mad at them too. What ingrates, what boobs, what rude-niks, what is their problem? So you just let US help you be angry at these people who do NOT deserve one iota of your time or your energy or your stress (no, they are not worth even your stress!).

I have in my possession a dammit doll. Much like a serenity goddess, except that she's real, as opposed to cyber. An employee gave her to me several years ago (which should give me pause to consider how awful I must've been making that employee's life, but never mind that now). She's purple & has raggedy black hair - she's made of cloth, and her legs are just long tubes with no feet. That's because when things are going bad, you pick her up by those legs & just smack her up against something - the wall, your desk, whatever - and you say "Dammit!" with every smack. Like a pillow fight without the other pillow & with anger. The doll doesn't mind - it's her job, it makes her feel needed.

:) Debi

julochka said...

hi debi--thank you for the very supportive message. i'm still up (it's 1 a.m.) obsessing about this, despite KNOWING that it doesn't deserve my time and energy and my SLEEP, for god's sake!!! it's silly, but yet i cannot help it right now.

i think i'll make myself a dammit doll tomorrow. or find one i can use in sabin's toybox.

your words are very appreciated.


d smith kaich jones said...

Wow. I forget about the time difference. It's right now 6:30 pm here & I am headed home.

I hope you've made it to bed by now, but I have a feeling you haven't. I will visualize sweet dreams for you.

Good night.

Unknown said...

I've had friends like this, too. I always act as the "bigger person" even though it usually comes back fruitlessly. Again just like you.

I'm living overseas for kind of the opposite reason of hating Bush (even though he's not on my top 5 favorite people list aka he's an ass). My husband is in the Army and we are stationed over here. We love it here and we're going to try to stay overseas as long as we can. Even though your mentioning the milkshakes really made me miss home and want one.

Barb said...

I'm going to offer a small tidbit of Toltec wisdom here.

One of my favourite books "The Four Agreements" says ....

Don't Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dreams. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

This beautiful book is my daily mantra/affirmation. I read the condensed version of these agreements daily to influence my thoughts in creating a calmer life. Not easy but helpful affirmations.

I hope you this agreement helps you to see that obsessing over these past friends is only hurting you not them. Let it go Julie, they are not worth it. Barb

julochka said...

nik--i hope i have finally learned my lesson!

barb--i really appreciate your kind and wise words. and to be honest, they're exactly what i was trying to tell myself when i was in the midst of it. i actually lost a whole lot of sleep over this last night and i KNOW it wasn't worth it and that it was only hurting me and not them. but, for whatever reason, i was not able to let it go at that moment. as they say, all things seem brighter in the morning and i'm fine today and much more able to just let it go! thank you for the bit of toltec wisdom, it surely does help towards leading a more peaceful life.

julochka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wise words from Barb....even though what they did felt personal, it likely wasn't. How could it be? They might have felt powerless and shamed by their dependence, they might have felt overwhelmed by America, they just didn't do any of it well.

You were more than gracious, offering them every opportunity. NOw, when someone who is that difficulty offers you an out, accept it. Don't persue a relationship that isn't healthy. You might feel regret over losing a friend, but it is what it is.

tangobaby said...

Oh god. Not only am I totally riled up on your behalf (imagining every horror as your described it, completely in technicolor) but am reliving a similar experience I had last year with what I can only say are probably two of the most ungrateful, unappreciative women I have ever met. (But I didn't know that about them until later.)

I went to Venice last year, and invited them with me. I won't actually go into the details because I'm here to support you and your feelings, but I guess what I want to say is that I find it truly appalling that such people exist. I really do. It totally floors me. I also think that travelling can bring out the worst in people.

I don't know how you can get past such a thing entirely, because you put so much of your heart and soul into making sure these people were as happy, entertained and taken care of as your own flesh and blood. And not to receive a simple thank you...or even a response to the olive branch.

I guess I just want you to know that I'm so sorry that you were treated this way, I hope the dahlia and the serenity goddess helped, and that you are not alone. Something like this makes you want to pull back and not reach out to others, but that's not possible either. You just have to hope that folks like this are very few and far between.

julochka said...

i just can't thank all of you enough for helping me get my head around this one--that's exactly what i hoped when i blogged it, but i didn't realize how much it would help. mary, you're right, i'm better off without them and tangobaby, thanks for making me feel less alone about this one.

i can feel that writing it all out was an essential part of the process of putting it behind me. thank you all for "listening." :-)


julochka said...

p.s. the "new" blogger keeps posting all my comments twice!! why is that????

Delena said...

There are people in this world that just love to "use you up" and then dismiss you when "they don't need you anymore.I call them "me me" people and who really needs them anyway. You sound like an amazing host!

Magpie said...

Argh. People.

Let 'em go.

Sorry that they failed to be decent.

Jaime said...

How I was reading this post, I was thinking about The Four Agreements, and was going to tell you about this simple, but life changing little book...but Barb beat me to it!

So here I am to reinforce it. *wink*
And to offer you hugs and support, even if I am wayyyyyyyyyyy late reading this post.

I have to try harder to keep up with you!

Pixiewinkle said...

I feel your pain. You just have to go zen. You showed these people your home and family and what is dearest, and then they "resigned" the friendship. What kind of friends are those? Not ones you want to keep. Easier said than done, but we all have experiences like this. By the way, I totally get into those obsessive stages- one thing can make me so upset, and I can't get rid of the obsession. Just try to go zen and focus on something else, because rotten people exist.

Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

i just love the flower image...your blog is very refreshing....