[quote=“Tigerman”][quote=“The Grateful Dead”]
Oh oh, what I want to know
Is are you knd?
I think its nice to be kind when you are right.
This, however, can be difficult at times.[/quote]
This resonates. Thanks for the comment.
I just notice that lately I think about what’s kind and what’s right quite a bit…with various situations.
One of the situations is that I have a childhood girlfriend of 18 years who recently came to visit me in the States. We went to the same junior high school in Taiwan and formed a solid friendship during our youth, and have kept in touch all these years via phone, email, and the yearly gatherings since we live in different countries thereafter. She has been married for at least five years now. It has been a rocky marriage where she has been intensely unhappy. I mean INTENSELY (fights that go nowhere, lack of communication and respect, rage and verbal abuse…etc. She does most of the raging and verbal abusing while her husband withdrews, shuts down and does the occasional passive aggressive deal.)
This has been going on for so long that in the recent years we talk mostly about the troubles of her marriage and nothing else. Sometimes it’s so crappy that all you can do is vent and vent and vent before you are ready to make a change. I know my girlfriend had a rough childhood and has been impacted by it greatly, and I love my friend deeply. My wish which I communicate to her every now and then was that she would find the courage to end the marriage despite the fear of being alone. Most of the time I just listened and pointed out to her what I saw that was going on when asked. (Well, I cut her off when she raged about nonsense, too, and asked her to tell me what was really going on, too.)
A couple of months ago she came to visit me, which was mighty exciting at the time because we didn’t get to see each other that often. However, it was not a happy few days, after all. I found out that my friend is having a full blown affair with a guy that has a steady girlfriend. The plan is that they both break up with their partners and get together. Upon heaing the news, I was happy to see my friend glowing…literally, she was glowing, and I had not seen that in so many years. As time went on, I started to feel really annoyed and uneasy: she wanted to wait until her boyfriend leaves his girlfriend and then break the news to her husband about divorcing and moving out. In the mean time, she has no plan of telling her husband about the affair. She does not plan on telling him ever.
I told my friend that I felt disappointed with her actions of deceiving her husband, even though it made sense to her on a practical level. Coming clean is scary, and why come clean with someone you have tons and tons of resentment, anger, even hatred against? My question which I asked her is that “how are you going to face yourself a few years from now looking back and know that you lied? Who are you with this new behavior emerging? How do you make it fit with what you know of yourself?”
A part of me is finding it hard to respect her now. I believe that in dire times we show our true sense of integrity, and lying is not the way to show it. We lie because we are afraid that truth-telling will lead us to punishment; I understand that. Yet, I still feel strongly about her action and I wanted no part in supporting the action of cheating. A change of heart is natural in life; I believe. How we deal with it shows our character; I also believe. And yes, I am totally judging my friend, and that makes it hard to support her unconditionally.
It was not a happy ending to her visit. To give my friend credit, she listened rather well and just told me that she had no other options, that she would do exactly the same thing if given another chance.
I was even more annoyed, but I let it go at that point. I could see that my friend was very sad and distressed, and I no longer knew what was the right or kind thing to do.
We spoke on the phone once after that. Very brief and I found myself feeling uneasy and wanting to avoid her, knowing full well that she is still having troubles in her marriage and needs my support.
Am I right to impose my own moral standard on her? Is it kind to tell her how I feel about the situation? (I cannot possibly hide a reaction of this magnitude.) What should a good friend do in this situation? This is a 18 year old friendship, and the thought of ending it makes me really sad. I want my friend to be happy. What’s kind and right here?