Frienemy

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Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

                                                 ~Abraham Lincoln

My goal regarding Eliza has changed.  I no longer want to pursue a friendship with her.  I just don’t think it can happen.  Simply put, I don’t believe that she is capable of maintaining a friendship.  There is too much mistrust, bitterness, paranoia, anger, and jealousy on her end.  

 

I thought it would be a noble thing to do.  But if I am honest with myself, she is not the kind of friend I would want to have.  It is hard to call a one-sided relationship a friendship; although she has made spradic attempts to reach out to me. 

  

In my mind I wanted to achieve the impossible—becoming friends with the enemy.  I was tired of the animosity.  I felt like God had provided me with this opportunity to heal some old wounds.  I wanted to partner with Eliza to help her stay connected with the boys. 

 

And it’s not that I “need” a friend because I have been blessed with enough. It is true that we have had a tumultuous past; but I still didn’t find it strange that I would want to befriend her.  Jesus still remained “friends” with Judas even though he betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver.  Nor did he turn his back on Simon Peter who disowned him three times before the cock crowed.  Now that’s what I call pure love and graciousness!

 

I have accepted that we are never likely to be friends with a little sadness.  It would have been cool for her and me to do things together with the kids once she is released.  I was looking forward to having an open, relaxed line of communication.

 

However, I still am willing to remain cordial to her.  I refuse to let my goodness sour because she desires something different than what I had in mind.  I still have hope for other mother and stepmothers who both are willing to do the work involved in interacting in a healthy manner.

 

I continue to escort Ethan for visits.  I am content to provide snacks and sit back and allow them their time together.  If she writes inquiring about the children; I respond in a timely manner.  However, I no longer “entertain” her by letting her draw me in for arguments.  I answer the questions she asks and refrain from responding to any commentary, accusations, or wording meant to trigger a response from me.

 

I have also stopped sending “encouragement” to her.  From time to time I would send her books, cards, articles, and other things of inspiration.  I have visited her attorney to obtain documents, checked on her niece who was in foster care, and coordinated activities so that Ethan and Evan could spend time with their other brother.  I stopped doing most of this in the last three months when I noticed that despite my friendly gestures, she continued to bicker with me.  I had to set up boundaries with her for my own contentment and sanity in this trying situation.  Now I only deal with her on a need to basis.  I no longer try to save her from herself if that makes sense.  In essence I’ve removed myself from the picture as much as I can.  I’ve started to focus more on building solid relationships with the kids instead of her.  I realized that having them in our homes is a gift.  She had taken the boys from our lives for years, but God gave them back.

 

Rhonda has commented that deep down Eliza really probably does want to be friends with me—she just feels that Eliza doesn’t know how.  She is very good at pushing people away and projecting her fears and insecurities onto them because she refuses to trust anyone.  Eliza always feels that others are out to get her.  It is as if she expects everyone to hurt her.  I think this stems from being an incest survivor. 

 

At a visit not to long ago, she introduced me to a fellow inmate as “Ethan’s stepmom and my friend.”  I was a little surprised by this term of endearment but took it with a grain of salt.  I know that her actions do not support her words.  I felt sorry for her and knew that it was an attempt to manipulate my emotions.  I think she knows that I have grown tired of her mind games. 

 

I have been on both sides of the fence with her—her enemy and her “friend.”  Of course you know what side I’d prefer to be on.  I still pray that God is able to use me in whatever way he sees fit in this situation.  I know it has only been with Him that we have managed to make the progress that we have.  I still believe that anything is possible.

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6 responses »

  1. I think setting boundaries is the safest thing to do. I think it is amazing that she has made some attempts at friendship with you. The BM I deal with has made up her mind to hate me, lie about me, and call me names behind my back. I determined that the safest thing for me to do is to step back and let my husband do ALL communicating with her. The more I stay out of the way the better.

    You have the right attitude, and maybe one day her heart WILL be softened and you will be able to be friends, or at least friendly.

  2. I love your attitude and outlook! I hope that one day she will mature to the point of not trying to play games with you.

    Do you ever feel that sometimes you just can’t understand where she’s coming from? As in which way does her mind process information? Sometimes I feel like my Ex’s whole family speaks a different language and we’re trying to communicate without a translator.

    I agree with kweenmama, I think setting boundaries is the safest thing to do too.

    I love your attitude towards the whole situation.

  3. Morocco, once again you are an inspiration! I love how you work your stuff, girl!

    I think this is the correct route, using your energies where they are best served – on your children, home, husband and work. I don’t think “saving someone” ever works, we can only ever save ourselves. The others have to want to save themselves. Our actions cannot “save” them if they do not want to be saved.

    I am struck by your post and I keep hearing “friend vs enemy”. What if there was a state in between? The person in the shop that serves you (or you serve a customer) is neither a friend nor enemy, they just “are”. What if this in between state (which I can’t think of a name for), is the best place to be?

  4. Ladies,

    Thanks for your comments. Eliza and I began that way (bad) but due to the present circumstances our relationship had to evolve somewhat.

    Most of the time I can understand where she is coming from; I just can’t handle the fact that she refuses to face reality and approach her fears head on. I totally understand that she misses her children and would like to be the one raising them. I guess I just don’t understand her thought and decision making process. Or why she feels that everyone else is to blame for her problems.

    I feel better now that I have established boundaries and choose to ignore her ill behavior.

  5. Natz,

    Hey, I think you are right–there is a place in between friend and enemy, maybe an acquaintance or associate? I know Eliza is a black and white kind of girl and leaves no room for shades of gray. Therefore in her mind I am either her friend or enemy.

    Originally I did want to befriend her which is why I focused on friend versus enemy. Plus acquaintance sounds so impersonal and businesslike! I like the warm and fuzziness of “friend.” But now I am satisfied just to be a cordial co-mama with her if possible. That centers our relationship around what we have in common–the kids and it takes away the pressure of trying to form a friendship that might not be wanted in the first place.

  6. It’s so hard to come to the realization that you’re the only one with that intention. But, it’s better when you do realize it, and you don’t have to waste any more of your precious time and energy on thinking about it. Setting boundaries is always good, and I think you always have the best attitude about it.

    As always you inspire me, Morocco!

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