So I have this friend – we’ll call her “Elly May” – who has been through a lot in her life.  I know, I know, who hasn’t, right?  But she’s sort of an enigma.  One of her friends told her recently to not lose her “jaded” since it’s one of her better qualities.  You see, she has become completely jaded given those lots of things she’s been through in her life, particularly relationships.

Her way of feeling better about her sense of constant jadedness, perhaps subconsciously, perhaps sometimes not, is to help others.  Or at least try to.  Try and instill in them a sense of urgency about what making horrible decisions can do.  The consequences which will undoubtedly ensue, making the road ahead much more difficult than necessary to traverse. 

Elly May is a doer.  A fixer.  Fiercely independent.  Yet, at her core, she’s compassionate and loving, and feels really badly about the people she’s let down in her life because of those inherent qualities.  The qualities which are both a blessing and a curse.  She’s labeled as thinking she’s better than others, or she’s labeled as not caring about others, or she’s labeled as…fill in the blank.  Labels are given to her by those who are either insecure and jealous, or those who truly don’t know her and refuse to take the time to do so given their insecure and jealous.  If, in their opinion, she’s nice – she’s patronizing; if she’s not, she’s an elitist bitch.

Tough place to be.  For my friend.

She told me this past week was particularly difficult for her.  While always introspective, she actually heard “it” this week.  She was on the receiving end of what undoubtedly is the root of the tears she sometimes sheds.  The ones no one would believe she cries since she’s so “tough.”  Elly met with a counselor at her church, in an effort to volunteer and help with one more program, share one more story, talk to one more person and connect her church to a similar program.  At the end of all the business talk, apparently the counselor asked her how everything was going and why she stayed so busy.  Forced introspection, I’m sure, was not easy for her since she likes to do things which she decides to do, and certainly not do them when anyone else tells her to.

I’ve tried to tell her this myself but as usual, she won’t listen.  The counselor told her she didn’t feel “accepted” and she has been trying to do things her entire life to fit in, since most people who don’t know her box her out.  Or conversely, the people who do choose to be around her find they really enjoy it, but internally, if they are insecure with themselves, wish they weren’t.  And, since she’s not an idiot, she also picks up on this and then feels badly and somehow responsible all over again.

Wow do I get why the woman is jaded.  Kinda hard not to be with all that heady stuff being backed up day after day by 90% of the people she encounters.

Yesterday Elly May tried to attend an event which rendered her in the presence of people who, at one point in her life were her life, but are now just kind of an awkward ancillary memory.  An attempt for her to try and once again do the “right” thing, be accepted by people who probably never really fully did, and to put on a brave face for everyone around her.

She told me it was like having a giant target on her back or, more appropriately given the setting, a little red dot on her forehead.  When I asked her how she knew she maybe shouldn’t have gone and that it was time to leave, she replied:

“I was standing in a pole barn holding a plate of corn bread and ranch dip while watching people ride up on 4-wheelers.  Discussing fishin’ and huntin’ and ‘coons in freezer stories.  My ex-husband was acting like he was Obama at the DNC, his mother was shooting daggers at me, and I was the only one NOT wearing either a season or one of the aforementioned events on a sweatshirt.  Ask me again.”

What a bitch.