Met an old friend, ESK, for the first time in a long time tonight, for tea and a sandwich and a talk. About how she is stressed at work, as usual, and has asked for new assignments with less managerial responsibility. Again …
I seem to be having this conversation with her every few years, and she is ill more and more often, in so many ways.
I had this conversation with myself about 15 years ago and I didn’t listen to myself – or others – and had a breakdown that sent me into psychiatric hospital. There’s more to the story, of course, but my years of stress during university were definitely part of it. That and other things, as said. Like a failed business-venture …
I could go on, and there is definitely a difference between ESK’s personality and mine, although there are also great similarities – e.g. our tendencies to perfectionism, being dutiful and sacrificing ourselves for others.
Not good tendencies to steer you in the private business sector, if you don’t put some restraints on that, I can tell you.
But once again, I reassured ESK that she had made all the right decisions and that I looked forward to seeing her more in balance again. And then she went home and got the flu.
Well, that last thing wasn’t because she didn’t listen to me this time. Obviously. She had already made her choices and I just said they were good. Which I meant.
But it is ironic … and whatever it portents – that little coincidence, I don’t feel good about it. For my friend …
As with so many things, I feel I have to do the hardest thing of all here: Accept it.
I call her friend, but we hardly see each other anymore, except when we go to the theater together (a tradition through the past few years). And she is a very private person, always has been.
So I’m afraid she will have to walk that path, and hopefully what she has done to walk it well this time will be enough. Hopefully she won’t slide, or allow herself to slide into … more stress. And illness.
I will have to console myself with the simple, powerful and yet fragile fact that I’m not going to go away from her, even if we are not that close anymore.
Whatever happens I will offer her my full support, when the timing is right; when she wants it. When she is ready for it. I’ll keep a tentative watch for those openings … but that is all I can do.
So that has to be enough. Even if it is difficult not to try to do more.
But I know in my heart, and from my own experience, that that is simply not an option – perhaps not ever.
Sometimes we are so locked into our perspective on the world, our need to do something particular with our lives to satisfy some emotional lacuna in ourselves … and that is all we can do.
ESK is rich. I mean seriously. She could quit her job tomorrow and live for the next five year, no prob. Travel the world. Do pretty much whatever she wants.
She has savings. She spends very little.
But she works, and works, and works.
She says she doesn’t want to get carried out. She said that this night.
And she has taken steps to insure that that will not happen. I agree. I have written as much.
But I am still concerned.
I want to see reality happen before I allow myself not to be.
So that is what I will have to do.