Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A life lesson I had to learn... and a future reminder to myself.

Being stolen from is not a pleasant experience.
Being stolen from by your FRIEND is an even worse one.
Unfortunately, just before Christmas, I learnt just how unpleasant that actually is.

We hadn't always been good friends. Since having children though, we got on very well. I trusted her- in both my house, and with my children.
And that's how she stole from me.

She arrived with her kids to swap Christmas presents.
After admiring a Christmas gift I had bought for someone else, she offered to watch my girls while I got the chance to nip out to the tumbler dryer in the garage and turn it off, as I needed to head out. I gratefully thanked her, and when I came back in, it was my turn to watch the kids while she lifted her present bags off the counter and nipped out to the car with them. It was her suggestion to do this, so 'nothing got left behind'.
Then she offered to give me a lift out, while Barry stayed with my girls. Now, this part is important. I walked her youngest out to the car, and lifted her into the car seat. Then I stood at the open car door until the child had been strapped in properly. I'd attempted the straps but hey, its me lol. Unless it's a Joie Stages, I can't work car seat buckles!
Once the child was strapped in, I got into the front seat and got dropped off to my destination.

I noticed the gift was missing the very next day.
I immediately texted my friend, who denied all knowledge and went out and bought me 'replacements' - just incase her kids had moved them into their present bags. Which was fine, that seemed like a decent thing to do, however she assured me later that night that her kids didn't touch them and the more I thought about it, how would her kids have reached a box I'd deliberately put out of reach of my own children?

So I tore my house apart, because where else could they be hiding? I even went outside to our bins and - I am ashamed to say- emptied their entire contents onto our driveway lol.
I'm sure my neighbours have labelled me 'The Bin-Hoker' , but hey! Needs must!

When I realised the presents were nowhere in my house (or in my bins) and had taken a very long shower, I texted my friend and gave her another opportunity to come clean.
She again denied all knowledge and swore on her life.

After another few days of emptying the house I had to accept what had happened. I wrote a Facebook post because I was hurt and confused and devastated that it had even come to that. I did not name my friend -but I didn't have to.
She immediately messaged me, and swore on her AND THE LIVES of her children that she hadn't seen them. But by this point I knew she was lying. And I told her as much. She brought up that she had 'went out of her way' to get me the replacements and cheer me up.
I genuinely doubted myself, I really did. I have anxiety, and this situation did not help.
But I had originally thought 3 things were missing, and I eventually did find one of them. I didn't tell my friend, but her replacements only included the two items that were actually missing. When she dropped the replacements off to my house - she didn't even mention the third.

So I decided to distance myself from it. And tried to drop contact. At first I was polite, but the less that I replied, the more she messaged me. She even texted me after seeing a post I'd put up In a group we were in, about having a hard time.
Of course I was having a hard time. My friend had stolen from me, then outright lied about it.

This, by the way is the same friend who made me a cup of tea and let me have a bath while she minded my children for an hour when I was having a previous hard time and wasn't well.
I was so conflicted. And I began to feel GUILTY every time she messaged me.
Because I missed her, and it was hard.

The final straw came when she tried to place an order with my new business.
Don't get me wrong, I needed the money. I am most certainly not in a position to just turn business away willy nilly.
But I could not sell to her while barely speaking to her. It didn't sit right with me and the idea made me feel very uncomfortable. Like I was using her or something.
So I messaged her again, explaining. And when she blanked me and acted like I was somehow being cruel, I messaged her explaining how I felt and that it was unfair that she expected me to act like nothing had happened.
And finally, finally, she admitted it.
Well, when I say admitted it, she tried to say that her daughter had taken the makeup out to the car and destroyed it.
Except that she'd forgotten about giving me a lift. And that I had walked out to the car with the child, who was empty-handed, along with her sister.
And when I reminded her of that, my friend blocked me.
Blocked and deleted me from every aspect of her life, because I had caught her out on another lie, and instead of having the decency and respect for me to admit to it, instead she has chosen to pretend the whole thing just didn't happen..

Which, right now, is fine by me.
At the time, I was even more hurt. I was angry, and upset, and I had a good cry.
But this entire experience has taught me something.
That her actions are not my responsibility to deal with. Her behaviour and the decisions that she CHOSE to make are not my fault and not a result of anything I did.
And that I should not feel guilty. At all.
I did the right thing by trying to gently cut contact. Every single one of her actions since have been proof of that. Our friendship obviously did not mean to her what I thought it did, and therefore it is entirely okay for her to not be in my life anymore.
I spoke to a few other friends about what had happened, and I was absolutely speechless to realise that this experience was not wholly my own.
Many of my friends had been through similar (although not with the same person), and ALL of them had felt the same guilt that I had. But I'm glad to say that all of us - me included, eventually realised that we didn't have too.

I have not shamed my friend. I have not named her.
I have not done that because that is the right thing to do.
Writing this blog post, has been more than just cathartic. It's my hope that someone in a similar situation will one day realise this and realise it's not their fault either.
The way that people treat you is NOT a direct result of how you treat them.
Not 3 weeks prior to being stolen from, I gave my friend a bucketload of Christmas decorations and lights for her tree, because hers had gone mouldy. I didn't do that for the thanks, I did it because the idea of her and her kids not having a tree at Christmas genuinely really upset me.
And at the time, I know she was grateful.
So no, I didn't treat her badly. Nothing that I did triggered the chain of reactions that eventually led to her stealing from me. And that was extremely important for me to realise.
It was NOT my fault.

And that has helped...

If you've reached this point in the blog without disappearing - well done! I promise we'll be back to boring and drama-free by the next post!!

Until next time,


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