Jealousy by mail

I was super stoked about my postcard from a person who is a member of an online group I belong to.  It was a surprise – we’d not been in communication.  There is a file where group members can share their addresses if they would like to get mail, so I left mine.  (I’ve covered up our addresses here with cough drops).

I thought it was really cute and inventive. The postcard has washi tape with botanical images on it, and rubber stamp markings. There is also a tiny envelope! How creative!


This is what was inside.


The cleverly designed thing folds out into a strip with washi tape with constellations on it.


…but now I feel left out because of all that this person got.  She posted it on the group page and tagged her, so I know it is from her.


…and here is a picture from another person – more stuff that she got from this member.


Both say it was a surprise – that they weren’t already friends with her.

I’m really jealous.

Which is a terrible thing to feel because it wasn’t like she promised me anything at all.  I should be grateful, but in comparison to the other people’s mail, I feel sad and jealous.  And I hate feeling like that.

They had no way of knowing that there was any inequality.  But I’m sure there are others in the group who didn’t get a letter and they are wondering “why not me?”

It is something I wrestle with on my personal page.  Do I share pictures of a party I went to where some friends weren’t invited? They will know they were left out.

I remember in school we were told to bring enough (of whatever) for the rest of the class – or don’t bring it to share at all. We had to include everyone.

I hate it when my friends invite people in a shared group to go to a new restaurant or experience, and don’t invite me.  I know they didn’t invite me because they either don’t tag me on the invite – which I can see because I am friends with them, or because they post pictures of the “good times with good friends”, and I wasn’t there.

I hate it.  And it keeps happening. It happened all the time with the SCA “household” I was a part of. It is part of why I finally left. It made no sense for the head of the household to question why I wasn’t hanging out with the others. He implied that my husband was controlling me, that there was something ugly going on. Yes, there was something ugly going on. The head – and his wife – and other members of the household – didn’t invite me to these gatherings. Over and over and over. How could I hang out with them if they didn’t let me know? I was especially hurt when they decided to take a jewelry making class together and didn’t invite me – knowing that was one of my interests. But to then think that I wasn’t social with them because I was in an abusive relationship? Insane.  

And last night I’d finally had it and cried big ugly tears and I still don’t feel better about it.

Social media isn’t social sometimes.  Sometimes it just lets you know how much you are missing out on.  It feels like bullying.

Think before you post. Think about the feelings that will get hurt. Think about who you are excluding. You don’t have to share everything.

Do I invite everyone to events? No. But I’m discrete about it. You don’t have to invite a whole group to some happening. You may not want a large group. You may like certain people in the group more. But be mindful that you don’t let the people who were left out know that they were left out.

Now, I can’t control if other people who were invited tell them inadvertently and thoughtlessly. But I try to do my part.

What is a friend?

Friends share their lives with each other. Friends make time for each other. Friends tell each other what is going on in their lives in person and not on social media. If you find out that something big happened to a friend of yours on social media, then they aren’t really your friend.

Friends are people who tell you when they are in the hospital so you can visit them. Friends are people who visit you when you’re in the hospital. I don’t mean people who say they’re going to, but those who actually visit. Friends are people who when you are home recuperating will bring you food or come and entertain you.

Actions speak louder than words. Promises mean nothing if they aren’t fulfilled. Friends follow through.

Friends are people who tell you when they are going to get married or when their children get married. Friends tell you when they are going to get divorced, too. This is about sharing the big details of your life with them.

As was wisely said to me once – Trouble shared halves it, joy shared doubles it. Friends share both with each other, and it is mutual and even. If one person is only sharing the bad things, then it isn’t a healthy relationship. That is too much for a friend to carry. That person needs a therapist or a counselor, not a friend. If a person only shares the good things and not the hard things, it means they don’t trust their friend to help them with it. There has to be a balance of good and bad from both people for it to be a healthy friendship.

Friends are people who invite you to events. If they are constantly hanging out with other people and never with you then they are not your friend, even if they say they are. If you are always the one who calls or makes arrangements for lunch dates or outings, even if the other person seems happy to be there, then you really aren’t friends.

It is very strange for a friend to not invite you to events and then ask “Why don’t we see you anymore?” This is especially true if she is sharing those events with mutual friends and then posting them on social media where you will see it. If you want to see someone, you include them. You think about their feelings and not make them feel excluded.

Friends are people who are comfortable enough with you to disagree with you, but not all the time. Someone who disagrees all the time is disagreeable. However it also isn’t okay to have someone who’s constantly agreeing. You want someone who is comfortable expressing their opinion and is willing to correct you when you are wrong.

Friends stick with you when times get tough, such as when your parents or your spouse dies. Even if they have never been through something that hard, they still contact you and ask to visit. When someone is going through something that hard, they need their friends even more. Losing your parents and your friends at the same time is very hard.

Musings on friendship

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher approached me with an unusual request. She asked me to befriend a girl who was a little odd. I’ll call her Susan.

She and I both liked to read, specifically science fiction. She wrote a little then too. We both thought Steve Martin was very funny.

Her father was dead, but worse, her father had been abusive. Her mother had to work a lot to support them, so spent a lot of time alone. This was unusual at the time – most families stayed together. Single mothers were unheard of. They lived in a tiny house that was just behind the school. At the time, that size house would have been considered poverty level. These days, the micro-house people would think it was immense.

She had wild hair – too curly to be manageable. She was a bit overweight, and smelled like cat. Perhaps she had Asperger’s. Perhaps she just didn’t know how to fit in.

Did this hamper my social life because I was seen with the weirdo? I wasn’t much of a social butterfly anyway. I would have been just as happy being alone. I never understood all the fuss people (girls) made over boys and makeup and pop stars. Perhaps the teacher thought I needed a friend, rather than the other way around.

Did this help her? She got to socialize with another person. But it was an artificial relationship. Like an arranged marriage. It definitely stopped her from becoming worse.

I didn’t think of it in this way at the time. More than thirty years has colored my feelings. In a way I feel cheated – I made very few other friends while in elementary school. She stuck with me. Out of habit? Desperation? Did this keep others away?

I was far from normal – but I had a stable home. At the time I felt it was a big honor to be asked – this meant I had extra to give. This meant I had a kind heart.

This has softened me to the plight of the “other” the weirdo, the loner. Folks say “he was quiet, and he kept to himself” – yes – so introduce yourself. Talk with him. Become a friend. It is hard to be a friend to the friendless, but it is important. It may save a life (or hundreds), the life of the person, or the people they might harm.

Back in my day, unhappy loners just killed themselves. These days they kill innocent strangers.

However, this hampered my ability to make friends in a different way – it became the pattern for my friendships. I fixed problems. I was the one who listened. I was the one who understood. But when I had a problem or needed to be listened to, nobody could help.

She showed up, unannounced, at my workplace one day years after school was over and asked if we were still friends. I’d not called, she’d not called. We were adults now. This was after my parents had died – -and she had been nowhere during that very traumatic time.

What is friendship? A name in a phone book? A connection on Facebook? If only one person is making the effort, then it really isn’t a friendship.

Am I your friend or your customer?

I’m encountering a lot of people who have started their own businesses. I’m finding that the line between friend and customer is a bit blurred. Someone I thought was going to be a new friend turns out to be friendly just to sell me something.

I’ll meet them in a social setting. It isn’t as if I’ve walked into their business and tried to strike up a friendship there. I didn’t know at the time that they were trolling for new customers. I think we call it “networking”. I call it confusing.

There are many ways that the friend/customer line gets blurred. One is that I’ll ask for advice on how to do what they do and there is a hesitation. They aren’t consultants, but they are afraid that I’ll steal their tricks or their business. They want to charge me to talk with them.

Another is when I give a new friend my email address and then she signs me up for a mailing list of all her activities. I get an email every time she plans some new event. If they were free events, that would be one thing, but they aren’t. These are all things I’m supposed to pay her for, and often the fees are very high.

If she had to pay for the experience to happen or provide materials, I understand. Sometimes the rental place has to be paid for or there are supplies involved. But if it is an experience at her home where she didn’t have to put out any money, then I don’t see why there should be a fee at all. It is as I’m expected to pay a fee just for the privilege of getting to be with her.

Friend or foe

“Since we are friends, you can…” (fill in the blank as to whatever rule they want me to break.)

I’m friends with a lot of patrons. I’ve met several great people while working at the library. Heck, I even married a patron.

I’m friendly with a lot of other ones, in part because that is part of my job. Some of them confuse “being friendly” with “being friends” though. They ask me to bend or break rules, to make exceptions for them, because we are “friends”.

We aren’t. If we were really friends, they wouldn’t ask me to do something that could get me fired. Like waiving their fines. Like not changing their address to their new out-of-county address. Like not using their ID or their library card to access their account.

Friends don’t try to get friends fired.

I’ve been a people pleaser throughout my life, and I’m learning it doesn’t do me any good. “People pleaser” is the old way of saying “codependent”. I felt like I needed to do whatever they wanted me to do so they would like me. Fortunately I’m getting over that. If they get angry because I won’t do something that is illegal or unethical or just plain against the rules, then they aren’t the kind of people I want to associate with anyway.

Poem – friend. (predictive text)

First of a little (there are some)
for example and I am not a lot.

Remember the old standbys?
Remember what you want and need.
Rather than being eased
really our own feelings lead.

It isn’t about making a lot of friends.
In fact you can spend the time
If you want on your own site.
I don’t think that you can be found there.

Now what?
Your note for the way home is stuck
to the side of your shoe
caked with mud.

Don’t worry about it
Did you get the best in show?

Who cares if the result is beautiful or well groomed or well trained?

Give me a mutt any day.

Some thoughts on this poem/meditation.

What is a friend? Does it matter if she is popular or polite? What is more important, amount of friends or quality? I’m relearning what friendship means, and a lot of it is about being accepted for who I am and having a cheerleader for who I am becoming. Old friends who complain a lot are being cut out of my life, no matter how long I’ve known them or if they are family and I’m expected to be friends with them. People who don’t take my correspondence with them as private and discuss it with others behind my back are being cut out too. I need honesty in my life, and if it means having only a handful of people that are helpful and healing for me, then so be it. People who don’t make time for me aren’t worthy of my time either.

This started out with the letters in “friend” and then needed a little more so I free wrote the fourth stanza and the last two lines.

Friends – to be, or not to be

What constitutes a friend? When is someone just an acquaintance? Can you really say that someone is your “BFF” if you’ve only known them for a year? When is it time to admit that they just are not that into you?

I have very few friends from high school. In fact, I have very few friends I’ve known for more than ten years. I’m a little exacting about what makes up a friend. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be present. And they do have to be kind and considerate.

About five years after I graduated high school a person I knew showed up at my workplace, asking if we were still friends. I would think that she already knew the answer by that point, but we were young and nobody had told us what the rules were about how to have a friend or how to know when a friendship is over.

We’d not talked in years. I was surprised she even knew where I worked. We’d just drifted apart, because we had nothing to hold us together. Leaving the artificial environment of high school does that. Life does that.

The fact that she just showed up where I work rather than calling me first and asking to talk to me was a clue that things were over. Regular friends are considerate of your time.

She wasn’t a regular friend. I was assigned to her when we were in fourth grade. A teacher came up to me and asked me to be her friend because she was a loner. Her life was a bit sad. Her father has died, but before that he had been abusive. Her mom was doing the best she could raising her alone, but they were poor. The already bad start was just compounded. The teacher was trying to help her out by pairing her with someone she thought would be sensitive and kind.

I don’t think the teacher thought about what this would do to me.

It taught me that friendship is about sacrificing your own needs for others. It taught me that friendship is about taking care of others. It taught me that my own needs don’t matter. It taught me that I had to be there for the friend, but the friend didn’t have to be there for me.

I read recently “I’d rather have four quarters than 100 pennies.” The person was writing about friendship and about quality over quantity. When I first read it I didn’t get it. They both add up to 100. Surely it is the same.

But it isn’t the same at all.

Time is precious and life is short. I’d rather have a few real friends than a bunch of acquaintances.

I had a gathering for my birthday recently at a local vegetarian restaurant. I invited about a dozen people. Most were able to come. It was a very good evening. Nobody was needy. Nobody had to be entertained. Everybody there was the kind of person who is comfortable being in her or his own skin, and it showed. Everybody there was the kind of person who knew how to get along well with others, especially ones that they didn’t know.

And I felt better. I’m glad that I’m making healthy choices for myself. I’m glad that the food that I’m putting in me and the people I’m putting in my life are healthy ones.

It has been a long time to get to this point.

Health advice from near strangers

There have been several patrons who have asked where I was recently. They noticed that I was gone for a bit. I’m part of the place – I’ve been there since it opened. That was thirteen years ago. Some think I retired. That would be nice, but I can’t retire for at least 15 more years. I try not to think about how much of my life is being spent here. That is partly why I blog.

I tell them that I was on vacation for a week, and I was out a bit before that because I slipped a disc in my back. With the first part they sometimes want to know where I went. I stayed home. I did as much nothing as possible. I read a lot. I played some video games. I meant to collage or paint but instead I read books about image transfer. I still can’t figure it out and I think I’m just going to have to waste a few canvases and try something out.

The second part of my story is the funny part. When they hear I slipped a disc, they have a lot of questions. How did it happen? It happened here, at work. I was just walking along and twisted and boom. Pain. Nothing special. It was just the straw that broke the Betsy’s back. I did a forward fold to try to make things better and it only made it worse.

Sometimes they ask why it happened. I’m in pretty good shape, so they are surprised. I was too. It happened because I have scoliosis. It is very slight, and it has developed over time. Contrary to popular opinion, and the opinion of my coworkers and the patrons, scoliosis can develop. It isn’t always something you have as a child. So my back goes left, and the disc went right.

Then they ask if I am better, and I say I am because I am going to a great chiropractor. Sometimes they ask who. When I tell them, it seems like the majority of them go to him and agree how wonderful he is. Those who don’t go to him or have never been to a chiropractor have further opinions. My favorite – one lady who told me that I should be wearing a back brace. I told her that it is really important to move the discs. If you don’t get movement, the discs will get weaker. OK, she said – then are you doing the exercises your doctor told you to do? This is funny because she went from “don’t move at all” to “make sure you move.” Pick one. I assured her that I do yoga and water aerobics, so I’m good.

Others have said “make sure you don’t go too much.” – going on the popularly held opinion that chiropractors try to get you to come way too much so they can make more money. I point out that when I got braces, it took four years for the doctor to realign my teeth. Why should I expect my back to be any faster? They agree that I have a good point there.

I’m amazed how my business is their business.

That is part of my job. We get to know each other. We have a weird relationship, that is friendly, but we aren’t friends. It is hard to know where the boundaries are sometimes. There are certainly patrons that I have become friends with. I even married one. But there are others who think they are my friend because they see me every week and I smile. But they don’t get that I smile because I have to. It is part of my job. Just because I’m friendly doesn’t mean I’m their friend.


I’m a very private person. This may sound odd coming from someone who writes a blog. I also have a very public job. I work with and in front of strangers half the day at work. I try to serve each person as fully as I can. I try to serve them as if they are Jesus in disguise. I try to serve them as if I am Jesus.

It is overwhelming.

I’m grateful for the time off the desk to be calm and quiet. I’m grateful for the activities I have off the desk that require a different kind of attention.

I’m really quite the introvert. I fake being an extrovert.

I used to feel bad about this. It meant that my home was my refuge and I’d spend my off time there, alone with my husband. He is an introvert too so it works out. I felt that perhaps we were missing out on life somehow. We didn’t have friends over, and we didn’t go out with friends. We stuck to ourselves.

I’ve decided to change that a little. I’ve decided to push my boundaries a little. I think it is important to spend time with friends, so I’ve been making “playdates”. I’m creating a “salon” at my house. It is a space where we can get together with a few people at a time and have tea and philosophy.

Partly the trick is to pick good friends who understand that I get a little overwhelmed, friends who understand that I can’t stay up too late. I might turn into a pumpkin, you know.

I asked Jesus into this, because I feel it is a weakness, this being so private and guarded and I introverted. He pointed out that he spent a lot of time alone.

So I’m in good company.

I’d rather have a few good friends than a lot of sort-of friends. I’d rather have friends who are comfortable with me and I’m comfortable with them. I’d rather know people who I don’t have to wrestle the house into shape in order for them to visit.

If I have to turn myself into something I’m not, then they aren’t really friends with me, the real me, anyway, right? It would be putting on a show – like selling someone something that isn’t really what it is advertised to be. I don’t wear makeup, or dye my hair. I am what I am. So I should be the same about my house.

Hanging out with Jesus.

I went to my spiritual director on Wednesday. I’m trying to think of a spiritual director as a guru for Christians. It was strongly recommended that I find a spiritual director because I had started the process to decide if I was being called to the ordained ministry in my church, specifically as a deacon. While that process is on hold, I’m still going to my spiritual director. I find she is very helpful. It is like therapy without any drugs or annoying office music.

We talk about all sorts of things, and a lot of them don’t seem to have anything to do with getting closer or farther away from God. She’s stated that her goal is for me to have “intimacy with Jesus.” These words are totally foreign to me as an Episcopalian. We don’t talk about Jesus being our buddy and pal in church. We don’t talk about inviting him into our hearts. We talk about him, sure, but we don’t really talk with him. We certainly don’t invite him to hang out with us.

She offered me a thought exercise yesterday that I found to be very powerful. Think of the story of Zacchaeus in the 19th chapter of the book of Luke. He was the short tax collector who wanted to see Jesus in the crowd, so he ran up ahead and climbed up a tree. Jesus saw him up the tree and called for him to come down and then invited Himself over to Zacchaeus’ house to have supper. Now that you have the story in mind – imagine that you are Zacchaeus. Imagine climbing up that tree. Imagine Jesus looking at you, noticing you up in that tree. Imagine how you would feel. Imagine him saying he wants to come over to your house to have supper. Your house. With you.

Try to get over the terror that your house isn’t clean enough. Do you have enough food? Where will everybody sit? Feel through how will Jesus respond to this. Remember, this is Jesus. He made a feast out of a few loaves of bread and some fish. He can handle half of a leftover hamburger and black olive pizza and two bottles of Killian’s.

That is the kind of intimacy that she is aiming for. To see Jesus as a real person who wants to be with you. Who wants to come over and spend time with you. Her recommendation is to invite him into everything you do, all day long.

I didn’t go right to work that day after seeing her. I went to tutor ESL kindergarteners, teaching them English. I think Jesus is totally down with that idea, so I had no problem inviting him along. I think Jesus is all about welcoming the stranger and making him feel at home.

Then I went to work. So I invited Jesus to hang out there too. Part of my job that day was cleaning up damaged books. I felt a little weird inviting him to hang out with me while I was cleaning muddy books. I felt a little weird inviting him into being with me while going through the mundane task of checking in armload after armload of books and movies that get returned. But then I thought about it. I like hanging out with my husband. Perhaps this is the same kind of thing. Real friends just like being with you, no matter what you are doing.

I’m OK with the idea of looking for Jesus in other people. This is seeing them in the way that Mother Theresa did – that every person was Jesus in disguise. I’m also OK with serving every person as if I was Jesus. This is serving them in the way that Saint Theresa of Avila did. She said that Christ has no hands or feet on this Earth but hers. The idea is to literally be the Body of Christ.

But I feel odd about inviting Jesus in to everything in my life. This sounds selfish of me to ask. Surely He has better things to do. Surely He has other places to be. Now I don’t think I’m proud. I eat leftovers. I regularly shop at Goodwill. I ask for financial assistance when I need it. But to ask Jesus to be with me, all the time? Isn’t that needy?

When I was writing this I felt the answer. He’s bigger than I can imagine. He is everywhere. He can handle being with me and with everyone else who needs him. And we all need him, even if we think we don’t. Even if we think we’ve got it all covered and everything is fine. Especially then.

I suspect Jesus wants to be with us, to be invited into everything we do, all the time. I suspect he’d love to be with us in our joyful moments as well as our sad ones. He’s just like a good friend – you share birthdays and graduations with them, but you also share the news of your cancer diagnosis and the funeral of your parents. Real friends want to be with you all the time. They may not know what to do in those hard situations, but they know that just being around is helpful.

I thought of those people who refuse to take Communion because they feel unworthy. I remember a conversation at church with a friend who didn’t want to let the priest wash her feet on Maundy Thursday. I think of both things like this – it is like being invited over to a friend’s house and then refusing their hospitality. They have made lemon and ginger tea and cooked up some fine snickerdoodles for me. And I say I’m not hungry? Actually, I am hungry, but I think I’m being polite by refusing. What really is polite is to eat the cookies and drink the tea and say thank you. To refuse hospitality is rude. They went to the trouble for you. They want to make you happy – and you can make them happy by drinking the tea and eating the cookies that they went to the trouble of making for you.

So in the same way it is polite is to accept the friendship that Jesus wants to offer. Again, this is a totally foreign concept in every Episcopal Church I’ve been to. I don’t know why. I hear that this isn’t the case in all Episcopal Churches. I know it is very Pentecostal, but I’m too Orthodox to think I’d enjoy that kind of service. I like the ritual, I admit it. But I digress. Perhaps if more people were introduced to this concept they’d open up to it. I certainly think it is a good idea. I just had to be told about it. So I’m telling you.

So I invited Him into every hard thing yesterday. I invited Him to help me with my painful feelings, and feelings that I’m uncomfortable with. I saw a cover of People magazine that talked about an actress’s “brave goodbye.” It was a story about her death from cancer. I was reminded of my Mom’s death from cancer and got angry at how her death was just as sad but nobody knew about it. She wasn’t mourned by thousands of people. And then I started to think about all the other people who die anonymously. There is no reason that a celebrity’s death is more heartwrenching. I remembered – invite Jesus in. So He stood with me with those feelings of hurt and loss and betrayal and pain. He stands with me now as I remember those feelings.

This is part of what we are to do. This is part of what I learned in the pastoral care class. We aren’t there to solve problems. We are there to listen. We are there to be there. We are there so people aren’t alone in their times of pain and loss and darkness. But in order for me to learn how to be there for someone else, I have to learn how to let Jesus be there for me.

Perhaps part of my problem is I’m not sure how to be a friend. Perhaps part of my problem is I don’t know how to be on the receiving end of a friendship. I’ve spent so much of my life with people who I thought were friends who it turned out were only around when they needed me. When I had a problem they vanished, like a backwards version of Casper the friendly ghost. I remember several people saying after my parents died that they didn’t know what to do for me. So they didn’t do anything. They didn’t even call like usual. They left me alone. So I learned how to stand on my own.

I think I’ve been that way a lot with Jesus. I’ve seen him as an idea, a historical figure, instead of a real person who is immediately available. I’ve seen him as out there, instead of in here, in my heart, in my life. This is a work in progress.

(I’ve intentionally not capitalized the pronoun “him” in here, in referring to Jesus. I’m trying to not distance him by using it that way.)