The contents of today's post have been brewing for a couple of months, when the issue I'm going to tell you about first reared its ugly head. The reason I haven't said anything until today is that the person at the centre of it all is a friend, a very new friend who I've grown close to in a short amount of time and I did not want to jeopardise that by publicly airing my opinion on someone else's choices...until I remembered what a pseudonym was.
Michelle and I first bonded over our similar experiences, with particular emphasis on bad relationships, so it was only natural that most of our conversations steered in that direction. We are two very different people; I'm a thinker, she's a doer. While I'm busy pondering the pros and con's of a decision, see: procrastinating, she has decided, acted and moved on. It's a very admirable quality, and one she utilises to her friends advantage more than her own. A word was all it took for her to deliver a weeks worth of groceries to an elderly neighbour who had run short, or babysit at a moments notice for a friend who didn't want her kids finding out about her new boyfriend just yet. She also took my son out a few times to give me a sorely needed break when even his own father didn't offer. In short, she is a wonderful, selfless person. But being so altruistic as to ignore your own needs can be dangerous.
A couple of months ago, Michelle broke up with her boyfriend. This guy was a moody, manipulative piece of work who isolated her from her friends and damn near put her into bankruptcy. Making the break with him was just about the only thing she ever did for herself, and I was happy to see her finally living the carefree life to which she was more than entitled. Then the phone calls started. Hour after hour of messages ranging from eerily cheery to hostile were beginning to take their toll, although she was careful to put on a brave face. She began to indulge him by talking to him for over two hours a day, reasoning that she didn't want to alienate him until he paid back all of the money he owed her, but that was an all too convenient fib that I don't think even she truly believed. She was letting him down gently, attending to his precious mental health while her own psyche was becoming more and more fragile by the day. He even intimated moving back into the house, and no amount of pleading from her friends could convince her to do what any other red-blooded wronged woman would have: change her phone number, change the locks and drop him like a piece of hot fat. In the end, the catalyst for change sprang from a most unusual source: her phone company.
A three thousand dollar phone bill would be an effective enough laxative for a person whose finances were in good shape, but for someone whose debt could register on the Richter scale, it was the last straw. Michelle was on the phone that very afternoon, making arrangements for an international student to come and stay with her, and is working out a debt repayment arrangement as we speak. Whether or not she gets any money back from her ex syphon/boyfriend now is immaterial; she has her life back, and is taking care of the person who needed her most.