Sometimes people surprise you.
Sometimes when you accidentally leave the bag holding your daughter’s brand new sweater for holiday pictures (that cost more than anything you ever buy for yourself) in the dressing room at another store, and you call hours later to see if by some off chance someone turned it in, the girl at the customer service desk will know exactly what you’re talking about and tell you “yep, it’s right here waiting for you.” Assuming people would steal it or toss it out only resulted in unnecessary swearing and frustration.
But this post isn’t about that, although it did happen exactly like that. No, this post is about someone I’ve written about before. If you don’t want to go read that post, the short version is that I have a friend who I was super close with when we worked together, and ever since I left the company we’ve drifted to “facebook friends.” Which is ok, but recently I’d seen her starting to post quotes and references to a televangelist who has been fairly vocal against gay people. When we were close, L’s best friend for many years was a gay man, and it struck me as odd she would be posting this stuff. It was bothering me, probably more than it should.
I emailed a mutual friend of ours who still worked with her, and asked if L was still the same person. She said, no, in fact, she was not the same person and they weren’t even hanging out anymore. I knew that L had remarried a few years ago, and her daughter was soon going to make her a very young grandmother, and I’m sure that’s taken a lot of her energy (her daughter is 21, and L was 18 when she had her). But this friend really indicated that L was almost living two separate lives – acting one way at work but then completely different beyond that. My heart became very sad.
Finally, after another few weeks, and some posts from L referencing this televangelist and yet her “liking” posts about marriage equality from me, I decided it was silly to keep assuming things and just go to her myself.
I tread lightly, saying that she could take or leave what I had to say, but that I had seen her posts about this woman and wondered if she knew how anti-gay she was (the L I knew before would never have endorsed anyone who was anti-gay, no matter how helpful or positive her other messages were). I gave her some resources that showed this to be true, and said that I just thought she should know, and that I hoped she was well and wished her daughter a smooth and easy labor.
Now, as I write this all out, it really does sound like I completely overreacted and overstepped. All I can say is if you knew the L I knew and the kind of friends we were, this type of conversation would be totally normal for us.
The response I received, well, was not what I was expecting. I assumed she’d ignore it, or at best, offer a “Yes, I know her views on that, and while I don’t totally agree, her other messages outweigh that for me.”
But then she replied like the L I knew, which was “NO I didn’t know that and I’m definitely going to be doing my research now.” She went on to say that someone had given her this woman’s CD when she was really low and needed to be reminded of her blessings in life. She told me that she was really hoping for more for her daughter than to be a young mother with no real means of support, and it was made doubly difficult because for the past three years her and her husband had been trying to have a baby. And they would be welcoming their own little one right about now but two weeks before her daughter told her she was pregnant, she lost her very planned and very wanted baby.
I started to cry.
No wonder she was different.
My heart broke in a million pieces. I told her I understood – the struggle and the loss. That I was here, and I was so so sorry.
In the moment it took me to read her email, every assumption I’d made fell away. I felt guilty for those assumptions, and felt so sad that we had drifted.
Because I’m different now too. The struggles of infertility and the pain of losses have changed me. And I’m sure there are people, I know there are people, who make assumptions about me because of the ways in which I am different.
I told her that I loved her.
And made up my mind to work on my assumptions.