I want to say the first time I met D was through friends a couple falls ago. But, that’s not entirely true. I heard of her prior: she was having an affair with a married man. The man was married to a close friend of mine, and, to give D the benefit of the doubt, the husband and wife were separated. However, as I recall, my friend became a Christian during their separation and felt convicted to save her marriage. Her husband at the time promised he would reconcile, but he got two women pregnant during the separation. He promised to both women carrying his child, divorced his wife, and married D (the second woman he got pregnant). We all told my dear friend that she was lucky to get out of there.
Years later, our circles entwined. A few of my friends had befriended D, and they promised me she had changed. I was skeptical, of course. Despite my better judgement, I befriended her through Facebook. For all the years I hated her for the pain she caused to so many I knew, I found so many similarities with her. I was kind and gracious and forgiving to her, and I opened my heart to her friendship. She was appreciative to have someone show kindness to her, and she began to confide in me. The man who cheated on my friend had begun to cheat on D. She was devastated, and I was dismayed. He cheated with numerous women. I would have left, but D wanted to stay with him. Though I didn’t agree with her resolve to stand by her man, I admired her love and determination to love him unconditionally. She felt called to stay with him, and she was a strong force throughout that trial.
Through hours of prayers and long calls, D and I became fast friends through it all. My husband warned me not to get too close and not to let her in: we don’t know if she’s truly changed. I should have listened to him, and I threw caution to the wind. I wanted to be there for her through her pain. How can you keep someone at arm’s length when they are hurting?
Our friendship continued to grow. Months later, my doctor had concerns for my health. I wanted to get pregnant, and my doctor cautioned me to wait until they got all my labs back. I had a rare condition that he was concerned would cause me problems. I was devastated that babies would have to wait. When I told the news to D, she was sympathetic. For, like, five minutes. Then she went into this… ummm… speech, I guess. Long-winded revelry. She said she could never be pregnant again and was sooo glad she was done having kids and glad she had them young. Pregnancy is the worst, and she would never do it again. On and on. Then, her tone turned, and she started gushing about the miracle of pregnancy and birth. Oh, what a delight! She squealed. “You learn so much about your baby’s personality, even while they are in the womb!” she exclaimed. I had had enough. “Stop,” I said. I told her she had crossed a boundary and that I didn’t want to hear it when I was in mourning. She apologized, and we got off the phone. It was the first time I realized she was ignorant of others’ feelings and how her words could hurt.
While we waited on the baby front, life picked up in other ways. My husband decided to go back to school, and I decided to start my business. Babies would be on hold for a couple of years. One of the things D and I shared was a love for health, wellness, and nutrition, so I was eager to have her on my team as I created my business. I told her upfront that we didn’t have the money to pay her, but I would make up for it when/if the business took off. She seemed content with that arrangement. Her contentedness didn’t last long. She started to press me more and more about finances. She wanted to know how she would get paid, when, and how much. She pressed me for set numbers and set percentages. I didn’t know: I just wanted to launch, but we were still so far off.
It came to a head one night about finances. I had been reading up on business. I suggested the possibility of self evaluations. Nothing strict. Nothing fancy. I wanted my team to be honest about how hard they were working if we added bonuses. She began yelling at me. “That’s ridiculous!” she fumed. I said, “Well, I’m just brainstorming. Nothing is set.” She asked me incredulously if I would evaluate myself and that I should hold myself to the same standards. “Of course, I answered, although, if the business doesn’t make money, I don’t make money.” She continued to rant against me. And, I held my answers. I listened to her, and I took a verbal beating from her. I couldn’t believe how ruthless she was with her tongue. I kept quiet, not wanting to make the situation worse.
Days later, I was still replaying her comments. Over and over. They sat on me like sludge. I needed to trudge past it. I prayed over the situation and asked for the wisdom of those around me. One theme persisted: D had to go. Oh, the dread set in, and I prayed some more. Later in the week, I found a good time for her to talk, and I told her she was off the team. I told her I sincerely wanted her on board, but my attention needed to be on things other than figuring out the money we didn’t yet have. And, again, she attacked me. She cried. She screamed. She violently attacked my character. She accused me of acting in haste, and I told her I was prayerful about my decision. She rejected that answer. She accused me of lying and of not being prayerful. She was so hateful to me and my husband (mind you, he was not involved at all). I stayed calm, and I listened. I apologized repeatedly for hurting her, as it was never my intent. It was one of the worst conversations I have ever had, but, stupidly, I told her we could remain friends.
She apologized days later for what she said, and I handled it graciously. I mentioned that I likely would have responded the same way if I hadn’t been in a new Bible study. We started to reconcile.
In time, I did bring her back into the team. We sent her a small, good faith payment. I knew how much she loved cooking and health foods, so I was excited to help her fulfill her passion. But, it started to seem her passion had changed. Every conversation I had with her was about children. First, she wanted to adopt. However, their home life didn’t pass inspection. Suddenly, all she did was try crazy internet diets to improve fertility. She got pregnant then miscarried. I supported her and prayed with her. She said she had made it an idol in her life, and she was okay with waiting. Three months later, she was telling everyone she was pregnant again. And, a week later, she said she miscarried again (she admitted months later that she lied- there was no additional pregnancy). As she mourned the fake miscarriage, our friendship soured.
As I tried comforting her and reaching out, she was wicked in her responses. I sympathized with her pain, “I remember feeling like, we will never have kids.” I lamented; sometimes the pain is so close. She cried, “I feel like I’ll never have kids. I feel like G-d is punishing me so I’ll never have kids.” Hmmm. Are you saying these words next to the three kids you already have? I promised her the Lord’s timing is perfect, even if it feels delayed. She spewed at me again, “It’s going to suck for you and your husband. If you want to adopt, it will take years and be so stressful and horrible. Or if you have your own kids, it will be a long and painful process.” I whispered a rebuke of the words she spoke over me. She was vengeful. I tried to convince myself that she was just in pain, but she truly hated G-d. She hated him to her core, and I took a step back.
She got pregnant again, and she miscarried again at the end of last year. We bought their family dinner and sent prayers. I didn’t even know what to say. I just wanted her to find healing. She was excited to focus on work, and I was glad it was an outlet for her.
She said she was focusing on work, but I never heard from her. Oh, sorry, I heard from her, but it was days later. Texts, calls, and e-mailed were answered two to three days later, if they were answered at all. I found out later that she lost all of our printed database for weeks. I wondered: how can you lose hundreds of recipes? I wish she had told me. I wouldn’t have been upset. I have them all saved on my computer. We could just reprint them. It was such a juvenile thing to lie and hide things. Why couldn’t she be honest? She admitted that she was stressed and her home life was a wreck (like always, right?). I told her I understood; just keep me in the loop. That’s why were a team- to pick up the slack, if need be. She told me everything was getting better and not to worry. I contacted her a few times since then, but it wasn’t until two weeks later that I heard from her again. I had no choice: I had to let her go again.
… to be continued…