It Wasn't How I Thought it Was

In my prior life, I was a software support analyst. For a glorious couple of years, I was the Team Leader of an esteemed group. In that position, I was a liaison between our support manager and the support team. I knew what each side was thinking, and it was my job to meld everything together in to a well oiled machine. 

There was this one time when there were rumblings that we may have a layoff in our group. We were a pretty close knit group. Several of us used to hang out during non working hours, meeting for drinks, play golf...stuff like that. Because of this, I didn't want to see any of us lose our job. There was this one lady who I considered a friend. We included her in our after work get-togethers; some of us helped out when she needed someone to watch her son while she tended to her responsibilities. We even helped her move out of her apartment and in to her new home when she was facing a deadline.  

She was also the weakest link in our group. Not specifically due to her performance - when she was at work, she was one of our most tenured and knowledgeable analysts. Her problem was that she missed tons of work with various misadventures (of the 'my car won't start'; or 'my garage door won't open, therefore I can't get my car out of my garage' variety); and constant ailments, that made the rest of the group resentful and put her on management's radar. 

One a day that management was nearing a decision on the layoff, this lady was once again out sick, this time with a 'migraine'. I called this friend at home and told her that I knew that she wasn't feeling well, but that if there was any way at all that she could struggle her way in to the office, it would behoove her to do so. I told her that I couldn't explain things right at the moment (because I was among a bunch of other people, none of whom where supposed to know about any layoffs); but would explain more to her when I could. She said that she would try to get in, but made no promises. 

She did not come in that day, but did come in the next day. I didn't get an immediate chance to elaborate on our conversation from the prior day. At about 10 am, my manager called me in to his office, which wasn't out of the ordinary, as he often did so to get my input on things, or run some ideas past me. On this day, however, we were joined by a lady from HR. It turns out that my 'friend' had filed a complaint against me with HR, saying that I pressured her to come to work, even though she had a right to her sick day. 

While nothing came of the complaint, I was floored by what happened. Interestingly, my reaction was not one of anger, but of extreme hurt...My feelings were really hurt. I was in a funk for several days as I came to the realization that my friendship with this person ended up being a mirage. 

I made adjustments, leaving my guard up around this person so that I wasn't in danger of having my feelings hurt again. I had chances at revenge, but didn't take them; because ultimately the misconception was mine, not hers. My actions were perfectly appropriate for a friend, but probably grossly inappropriate for a team leader. While I never helped her move again, and she didn't get included when I arranged after work drinks with my friends; I did recommended her for a promotion a year or so later, without her actually even applying for the job, simply because I felt that she was the most qualified person for the position. She excelled in that job for a time, although karma (and her spotty attendance) eventually caught up with her, and she ended up getting laid off anyway.  

The reason I tell this story from long ago, is that for the past several weeks, I've been going through a similar existential crisis. I'm not really prepared to talk details, or name names; but in general terms, I have always seen myself having a certain relationship with some people in my life who are very near and dear to my heart. While I am secure in their love for me, and I love them with every fiber of my being, I had thought that I was playing a different role in their lives than ended up being the case. I have been fully embracing the role that I thought I was meant to play, and left myself wide open to having my feelings hurt when their reality slapped me down.  

I've been in a funk for weeks, but I think that I have finally come to terms with how things are, and feel myself climbing from the abyss. I still love these people with all of my heart. I've simply adjusted my expectations to match their needs, and to what they are able to offer in return. I have also put up some defenses, in the name of self-preservation. I fear that it may take a little of the richness out of the relationships, but such is life. When you have as much to be thankful for as I do, it lacks grace to lament what might be missing. 


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