Saturday, 18 October 2008

Death of a Friendship 2

The previous post of Death of a Friendship was written in the early hours during another sleep disturbed night at home. Unfortunately insomnia gives one too much time to dwell on worries, concerns and hurt feelings. I have been mentally composing a letter to my 'friend' to explain why I no longer wish to keep in contact. I've just written it this morning. I'm not sure whether it will get as far as the post box as I'm still thinking of her feelings. She has sent me a text a couple of times since we parted. But I've not replied.

I'd been looking forward to meeting up with Kay again for a reunion of old colleagues. She had joked about no one turning up and our sitting there together feeling like 'Billy No Mates ...' I thought it a joke. If no one turned up then they either [a] had no interest in seeing either of us again or [b] had more pressing things to do during the weekend. If I was alone for the reunion I would have taken along a good book and settled down in a corner to wait to see who arrived.

I'd arranged our accommodation. I'd gone for the cheap option; B&B via the English Tourist Board as Kay had said she wanted to keep costs down. She wasn't at all keen to "spend £75 on a single room at a hotel as she had so many treats" planned for 2008. I could see on the website that one room looked much larger than the other but I didn't request that room ahead of our arrival - it didn't seem 'fair' to just bag it. On our being shown the rooms she immediately chose the larger of the 2. I did ask her if she had a preference. She turned towards me as if to ask which I preferred and then changed tack swiftly declaring to the owner "I'll take this one". I had expected to have some polite chat about our preferences and if necessary to make the decision with a toss of a coin. I was taken aback; very disappointed and speechless. After the journey up the M5 I was feeling tired, wrung out and travel weary. I get giddy and dizzy after a drive. My brain/mouth co-ordination slows down and I couldn't articulate what I was thinking.

After an evening spent in a local pub over a disappointingly tasteless bar snack we strolled back to the B&B. I had to dose up on painkillers as my back and knees were particularly stiff and painful. I then found out the room was cold, damp and mouldy around the window frames. Kay was lolling on her bed watching TV. She prefers to loll rather than sit in chairs. She wasn't using either of the 2 comfortable chairs in her room. I had one small slipper chair wedged against the bed and the wall. No chance to sit and read in comfort or to fill in my daily diary. I then experienced 2 hours sleep but was awake from 1.15 in a cold damp bedroom with barely room to swing a little mouse. As the night wore on I started to feel resentful.

With only 2 hours sleep it meant the next day passed in a sleep deprived haze. I felt nauseous, increasingly stiff and struggled to keep up with conversation and exploring the area. Kay seemed impervious to how I was feeling. Eventually at 3 p.m we stopped in a hotel for afternoon tea. Kay blithely telling me I had to stay awake till late or I'd have trouble sleeping again.

The hotel was blissfully warm. It was cosy. It was clean. It was welcoming. It had rooms available. I'd talked to reception on a trip to the ladies powder room. There were single rooms from £75/ Or, for myself, a large superior spacious double bedroom at £115 a night. I was all for returning to the B&B Guest House - checking out and moving in to the hotel. But Kay was almost in tears ... she was annoyed that I'd think of moving on ... she was concerned about upsetting the feelings of the B&B owner ... when I explained that at this rate I wouldn't have the energy to get to the reunion she then started to worry about going to the event alone. She told me that I should have booked us into a hotel if I was incapable of accepting smaller more cramped accommodation. She suggested that I stay at the B&B another night when exhaustion should help me sleep better (a fair point, but ..) if I had another bad night I could go to the reunion and then drive home afterwards. Although she agreed with me she would find the journey after the event hard to do she would do the same as she "couldn't remain at that grotty B&B" without me.

It was therefore clear to me she could or would not remain in "that grotty B&B" without me. She would rather upset me than offend the owner of the B&B. I'd expected to do the dirty deed myself of extricating ourselves and if necessary pay a cancellation fee after I'd expressed my disappointment on the state of the room. It was also clear she felt incapable of meeting up with old colleagues without me.

She did kindly tell me that in her opinion, I'd placed "too much importance on this weekend away" as I not had any other holidays. And she thought I should on my return home book into The Woolacombe Bay Hotel for a relaxing break before Christmas. It was at that stage I broke down and shed tears over the tea tray. I realised then it was the Death of our Friendship. I cried for what I thought I'd had and had found out that I hadn't had at all. A good friend.

She has listened but she has not heard. Over the last 6 years I've talked over the difficulties we faced at home. Of how hard I find it to take time out for myself. To get away. She has obviously not understood one word I've said. I have tried to keep up my end with the fun and laughter. But I have so little energy I cannot squander it. This weekend with her felt as if my remaining energy was being sucked from me.

It seemed so very important to her that we did not decamp to the warmth of the hotel. I gave up the idea. I was by that time so distressed the hotel couldn't have cured what ailed me. Regardless of how warm and comforting it was. A drug induced sleep helped me to feel a little better and to get through the next day. But the 3rd night was once again sleepless. That along with an allergic reaction to something in that room saw me driving home as speedily as possible with a rapidly swelling face and an itchy rash.


Robert said...

For me, a friend is someone who cares about me. Acquaintances are those I hang around with from time to time. For you, Kay would seem to fit the second category, since she certainly didn't exhibit much consideration for you during your weekend away.

However, she is right, to a certain extent, about thinking about yourself first...

...Many years ago, I tried to enlist the assistance of a social worker to help me in my battle with my estanged wife to see my young daughter on a regular basis. During the course of our conversation she asked me what I wanted for myself. To see my little girl, to be a "proper" dad to her, to give her a happy childhood, I replied. My own needs & search for happiness would be subservient to this desire, I told her, proud of my selflessness. "You know," she responded, "you are also responsible for your OWN happiness."

I perused this statement on my way home. I realised that my happiness (or lack of it) would affect my relationship with my daughter (and everyone else). The better I felt, the more I would be able to offer her.

Since then, I have put myself first - while simultaneously taking the needs of those I care about into consideration.

ladythinker said...

Thank you Robert, wise words.

I think over the years I've always tried to consider others first then my own feelings and needs. I know now the balance isn't right. I am working on change but finding it a bit tough going sometimes.

I do know that a few weeks ago I loved my 2 nights away at a hotel in Worthing where I made short forays out in the world for walks and to meet family but then re treated to my own quiet and anonymous space.