This has been the week for relationship stories around the Lierheimer household. I thought that since three of the kids moved out to go to college, my life would become relatively drama free. Such is not the case.
Now, as far as my children are concerned, the Bible says that “Children are a Gift from the Lord.” Psalm 127:3. I have found this to be, hilariously, the case for twenty years. My kids just crack me up.
I wish I could figure out how to post the pictures, but Christopher is wild about living off campus at college. He’s cooking, and keeps sending me these food pictures. Last night was a plate of steak, baked potato and string beans. Caption” I’m moving up in the world, Ma, you raised me well.” Ridiculous, and funny. The very first one was the “Cheeseburger of Independence” when he moved to CSU. It was a lumpy little thing, with two strips of bacon sticking out like antlers. He shot a picture of it for me : “Mom, you know why this cheeseburger is so good? It tastes like INDEPENDENCE!” I need a poster of that one.
So the girls call me, and tell me about all their adventures. Great shots of very friendly young men and women, and all kinds of tales about college. One of my girls actually admitted it was on her ‘goal list’ to perhaps find a husband! Yikes! Ha, it’s all good. My children have excellent judgement, and aren’t yet burdened down with truckloads of baggage that cloud their vision.
I have discovered that excellent judgement is not always the case in middle age. Most of you who have been with me for a while, know that I’ll do anything not to stay ‘stuck’. Stuck in grief, stuck in loss, stuck in negative thinking, anger or other poor choices. Toward that end, I have felt the need to increase my friend circle as my children get older. You know about Mission Hills, my dance coaching, my other various classes, and of course, life at Evergreen Academy. I am also evaluating the possibility of a doctoral program at DU.
It was during one of these venues that I met a young lady named Chandler Proditor. She was much younger than I am, but Chandler and I hit it off quickly. We had similar interests, drive, goals in life, and I found her to be hilarious.
As the months went by, I grew to love Chandler like a sister. We would chat almost every day, and the interest was quite mutual. At the time, I was dating an older gentleman named Terrance. Chandler and Terrance were in the same class and knew each other.
After a several months, I realized eventually that Terrance was not the man for me . Nothing particularly dramatic, just various reasons, the usual suspects, the usual baggage that middle age brings. I called a time out after about four months, and when we came back together, Terrance and I agreed that there were parts of the relationship we really liked, but that romance was out of the question.
What would it be like to love each other platonically, to look forward to the occasional coffee, to support each other’s life endeavors as heartfelt friends? Terrance was up for it, and so was I.
As I struggled to make sense of this new phase, I confided every step to Chandler. Chandler assured me that she was utterly ‘safe’, had zero interest in Terrance, and that I could confide everything to her without fear of judgement or reprisal. Beside, said Chandler, it was “Girl Code.” Best friends simply don’t date each other’s exes. Period.
What a relief. Chandler was a completely safe haven that I could tell all of my silly middle aged hopes and dreams to. Early on, questions like “Maybe Terrance would work out. Maybe his issues would diminish, maybe he would accept the feelings I was developing for him, maybe his expressions of appreciation and support were genuine.” Chandler was one of the kindest, most easygoing women I knew. It was a fun, very mutual relationship.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that Chandler had been dating my soon to be ex, a month before Terrance and I decided to move into another phase. I couldn’t believe it. Everything, every single thing she said about relationships turned out to be false. I felt the the bitterest, most foolish kind of betrayal. What a moron I was to place my trust so easily.
Oddly, I found it hard to blame Terrance. He deserves it, as it turns out that he has Chandler convinced that starting over at midlife is a desirable thing for him. Hoo, boy, it’s like a trite storyline to a bad chick flick. Lord, what fools we mortals be.
I confronted Chandler. I had to. Strange, because at that point, I had realized with utter certainty that being romantically linked to Terrance anymore was just some place I didn’t want to be. Some issues are too entrenched to conquer without divine intervention. Seriously. Not to say that I didn’t wish to have Terrance in my friend circle, when he’s emotionally available, he’s a great guy, and a sterling example of a good friend.
But who was this woman? Who was this person I liked to see coming? Who’s calls I looked forward to picking up?
What kind of woman says one thing to your face, and turns and does the most betraying, damaging thing she could think of the next moment? I was simply dumbfounded. I viewed Chandler as a giver, a kindhearted soul who was good with children and small animals, and eminently trustworthy. I still can barely find the words. Everything important I believed about her was false. Now I had the crushing burden to forgive her, or live in Anger Land forever.
Well, that depression lasted a few days, and I am over it. I am blessed with a very protective circle of friends all over the world. I relayed this story to my Chinese sister.
“Vickey, I think these are friend jerks. You need to discard them.”
“Victoria, don’t beat yourself up to much. You knew her for a few months. I had a friend in college for four YEARS who ended up sleeping with my boyfriend.”
“Vic, my good friend sc***** me over for 500 bucks. One minute I was her best friend, the next and evil b****” who wouldn’t share. People are unpredictable.”
Wow, true the last one, especially. I discovered through the loss of Chandler, that constancy is critically important to me. Chandlers excuse was that she had ‘changed’, “Terrance made her laugh” and she was ‘human’. Wow, if being a trustworthy friend is so easily discarded, what else will Chandler discard? She was actually the opposite of ‘safe’.
Losing Chandler has made me reexamine my own commitment to the character God wants us to have. It’s found it the verses describing the fruits of God’s holy spirit:
That’s what I want to be, if that’s what will help me forgive Chandler.
Much love, Victoria