Mark Twain wrote in Pudd’nhead Wilson that “[t]he holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.” I have for many years disagreed with that assessment, and my disagreement is why I’ve not yet offered that quote as part of the new and growing collection of Random Thoughts on this site.
That’s not to say I would never have used it. As I said on that page: “I do not agree with every one of [the quotes], but I do find them thought-provoking, interesting, entertaining, humorous, unbelievable, over-the-top, or otherwise significant in a way that warrants inclusion here. That’s the point.” I need not find it personally justifiable or acceptable in order to use it.
But only in the last few days have I grown to believe there rests at least a minor and selective grain of truth in those words penned under the renowned pseudonym of dearest Sam Clemens.
I have spoken ad nauseam of late regarding the financial dire straits I’ve faced over these past few months. I can’t count the number of direct and indirect mentions of it included on this site.
What I’ve not mentioned is the relief offered by some of my dearest friends. They’ve not been able to address all of this household’s needs, yet they have readily sacrificed to assist in whatever ways possible given their own circumstances.
The two who have given the most have similarly been the most loving about it. They have tendered their assistance without hesitation. They have offered aid in light of the personal detriment it foretold. They have never made it a point to remind me of the obligation.
In fact, they have wildly embraced the other end of the spectrum. Both have made it clear they understand my circumstances are temporary, and they realize my monetary obligations span a distance greater than their own giving. In that statement, they have similarly made clear as friends that what they provided comes from the heart, not the ledger books, and they know I will repay them in time given the litany of other creditors to which I am indebted.
Yet neither of them was able in the last week to resolve one major problem: the possible loss of our home.
Therein rests a new conundrum and realization.
Although I did not specifically ask, a friend I’ve long considered one of my dearest and closest companions, upon hearing of my plight, offered to cover the critical need that threatened a most devastating catastrophe were it not addressed.
I agreed. I accepted their generous offer assuming it was proffered under the guise of loving compassion held by a friend. A real friend.
I was wrong. Very disappointingly wrong.
Although the two original benefactors own a great deal more of my hide than does this most recent lender, and neither of them has ever seen fit to attempt some level of control over my life based on their giving, the most recent financier waited only until the very next day to begin wielding their “gift of friendship” as though it represented a direct influence over my life.
It was then I realized they had not seen to our needs out of passionate concern for a close friend. On the contrary, I now know they did so only because it provided an opportunity for them to feel a sense of power and control over me, to meddle with selfish intent in whatever I thought and did and planned.
Such a realization hurts. It generates pain and anguish the likes of which no comrade should ever be subjected to at the hands of someone calling themselves a friend.
In light of how little time it took the lesser of all givers to interject their own interests into my own thoughts, I realize only now that their aid came at too high a price. It was given for all the wrong reasons. They had no desire whatsoever to help The Kids and me. On the contrary, selfish motives drew them to make an offer anchored tightly on whatever imaginary domination it might give them over our future.
What a horrible truth to find under such circumstances. What a breathtakingly awful wound to inflict in the name of friendship.
Yet I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve learned who my true friends are while simultaneously learning who wishes only to seem like a friend in hopes it will provide them some level of power to manipulate me, my life, and our relationship.
While this person may believe the loan to have placed me over a barrel with regards to our interaction and my own future, they are sorely mistaken. It only appears that way, I’m afraid, and only so in their warped little mind wherein they dabble their bony fingers in the body of what was once sacred amity.
Only now that the flesh tears away as they grasp and pull and demand, only now as wounds both fresh and old are rent asunder by selfish hands, only now do I see the reality so expertly hidden with deception wrapped in cloaks of amorous proclamations.
Never again, I say.
That relationship is forever tainted, marred by greed and self-interest falsely painted with colors of concern. Those scars can never heal.