I’m Done

| September 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

My first close friend Sheila was always a difficult person. During high school and college we managed to stay close and because we had this long history I tended to overlook these imperfections. After college she moved to Chicago and our lives went in different directions. She never married and worked from graduation until retirement as a computer programmer. I married had two sons and in my thirties began a 30-year career that was exciting and fulfilling and important.

During those years we continued to stay in contact both by phone and with visits to each other. As the years went by a series of unfortunate incidents only increased her bad attitude and she continued to use a passive aggressive personality to put me down in so many ways. She often brought up the fact that she worked hard to take care of herself and I had a husband. She didn’t care for the shade of lipstick I wore, my California clothes when I came to the “big city,” the fact that I was near my family while hers was thousands of miles away. She did not know what my job entailed, what it was like caregiving a disabled sister, a dying husband, an elderly mother, in fact she did not know me at all after the age of 21.

Anxious to take toxic relationships out of my life, and after a particularly unpleasant visit to see her, I severed ties with her years ago. So it was with surprise that I received a call from her on a milestone birthday that we shared, surprised that she was asking that we forget the past and reconnect again. With a leery feeling in my heart, I agreed. Needless to say, very little had changed with Sheila. Even after all those years, this aging woman still allowed her attitude to be negative and angry. Our conversations were mainly about her and where life had taken her. She did not ask about me and changed the conversation back to herself whenever I tried to catch her up.

A recently published article from Harvard Medical School called “Living to 100: What’s the secret?” concluded that “if you bring to your life appreciation and respect, and embrace life with good humor, grace, vigor and flexibility, you will, at the very least, be happy to grow old.” The subtitle of the article says it all: “Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and inner strength.” The articles conclusion: “A sunny outlook might actually protect the heart and brain.”

This is how I try to live my life, and even more so as I age. My role model is my sister who although very disabled and having gone through the pain of having a husband desert her and an only child move away, she still maintains a lovely and positive outlook on life. She amazes me every time I see her and I am blessed that I live so close to her and can care for her needs. Sheila however, is not a blessing in my life. Feeling guilty, I called her just to catch up and as usual she steered the conversation to her latest tragedy, a boyfriend who recently dumped her. I tried to be positive with stories about my family who she knew so well. Needless to say, she was her same old nasty self, telling me I told her that before and that I repeat myself too much. I was literally speechless. I took a breath and told her I really have nothing to talk about with her anymore. I politely said goodbye and hung up feeling freed from her.

A week later she called both my home and my cell. I did not pick up and she did not leave a message. A few days later she called again. A week later more calls that I didn’t accept. My attitude has been positive most of my life. I plan to age that way.

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