I have learned a lot of things in my 29.6 years on this planet. But there are two things I have learned in the last few years that will always stick with me.
When I was in college, I received a phone call around 5pm from my friend, Ann*. I remember the time vividly because my roommates and I were bundled up in our coats and on our way to eat dinner at the dining hall. Ann called to tell me my boyfriend (at the time) was at the bar the night before making out with another girl. Ann knew this was true because she witnessed him kissing another girl. I was furious, not because Ann called to tell me this, but because my two other college roommates, Mary* and Tina*, were at the bar with my boyfriend and his friends and they said nothing to me all day!
I remember taking the call, sitting on the couch and the feeling of all the blood running from my head to my toes. I felt my face get pale, and then almost immediately the tears began to well in my eyes. My conversation with Ann was short, she told me who the girl was, that she was sorry she had to be the one to tell me this, but if she were in my shoes, she would want to know. As we hung up, I felt the blood return to my head, and the anger began to fill my body. I asked Mary and Tina about the situation and they said they didn't see anything, but to this day, I am sure they "heard" about what happened because of the talk within the group of friends they were with. I sent my roommates to dinner without me and moved into my room to cry my eyes out.
After hearing this news, I honestly cannot recall what happened between my boyfriend and I. I think we were trying to "work things out" after we had an on again, off again relationship, and recently decided to get back together and date exclusively. I am sure I confronted him and he denied it.
But what is important is from that day on, I decided I would do exactly the same thing as my friend Ann. I would tell the truth to my friend, even if I knew it would cause great pain in their life. Even if I knew making that phone call would be extremely difficult. Because today I applaud Ann for being honest with me and not pretending nothing happened, or taking the "don't ask, don't tell" approach. I think highly of Ann and today we are still what I consider to be good friends.
Tim* is a high school classmate of my husband. Tim married Barb* several years ago. I obviously know Tim and Barb through my husband. Just recently Tim and Barb divorced. It was a shock to my husband and I and I found out when I emailed Barb to find out how things were going with her. Barb replied and told me her and Tim had separated and they were getting a divorce. Sadly it wasn't mutual. It was what Tim wanted.
I remember reading Barb's email at work. I didn't know what to do. I was so scatterbrained. I sent a text message my husband to see if he knew about the divorce, he was Tim's friend, maybe he forgot to tell me!?!? Both of us were in the dark on this one. I didn't know what to do, what to say, I was so in shock, I couldn't concentrate on anything. I immediately emailed Barb asking her what happened, how she was doing, if there was anything I could do, and anxiously waited for her reply. She replied and gave me the majority of the info via email and the next thing that crossed my mind was to meet with her. I suggested dinner an within a week or so we were sitting at the restaurant table together.
On a side note, Barb and I have never done anything together. The four of us, Tim, Barb and my husband and I have gone to various things together, but nothing that was "just the two of us." We have never called each other up to chat or gone shopping or had a girls weekend. This didn't stop me from wanting to meet with Barb.
There I was, sitting at a table with Barb, listening to her tell me "the whole story." I don't think I asked Barb to tell me anything about her current situation, she just started talking. Four hours later we were leaving the restaurant and all I wanted to do was make her life easier. Later, I learned from Barb that I was the only one of her (now ex) husband's friends wives to come forward or offer support or call her. I was surprised since I thought she had a much closer relationship to some other women that knew her husband.
This one revelation by Barb made me realize, no matter how I know the person, whether I met him/her through my husband, I will offer my support and help in a similar situation. It may be a text message, a phone call, a card or email, but I will make the effort to let the person in crisis know I am there if they every need anything.
*Names have been changed.