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Compassion Fatigue

I recently ended a ten-year friendship. I had been working with this friend for the past year, and then I got a call on a Sunday as she was driving to the airport to spend the week on an island vacationing with family, that she had met with her financial advisers (on a Sunday?) and unfortunately, she was unable to pay me anymore. Hello right out of left field? How are ya? Not pay me anymore as in a months notice? Two weeks? What? "Next Friday will be your last day". Wow.

This was a start up company only 8 months in, how could she have not had a 2 - 5 year business plan and money in place? I was too stunned to ask her this question at the time of our phone call. She said she felt "bad" and if I want to stay on board and keep working until things turn around, she'd love that. "Oh, I gotta go. I'm at the airport". Click. Happy fucking Sunday to me. What? You couldn't meet me in person and look me in the eye and explain the situation and feel horrible about it? Maybe some sort of human emotion? I don't like quoting Godfather, but I will, "it's not personal, it's strictly business". No, this was personal.

We were friends and we had numerous, I mean numerous conversations about working together. And that our friendship was more important than business. And you chicken-shit your way out of doing the right thing, which would have been sitting down together and talking about this. Hell no, I'm not going to work for free. I busted my ass for this woman for close to minimum wage for the business we're in, and I'll be damned if I'm going to continue working this hard "hoping" something positive will happen. I took the job because I always believed something positive would happen. I didn't tap out, she did. And she was off on her vacation while I finished up the projects I was working on.

She only communicated by email after she returned and then about 3 weeks later, she called. First time I had talked to her since "Sunday, Bloody Sunday". She told me that she felt that I was punishing her by not calling, and that she had "done me a solid" (the fuck?) by hiring me. It was so disappointing to hear her say these things and dump everything on me, as if this was my fault. I have to confess, I took the high road. I talked to her as if she was a five-year-old and told her that I was sorry she felt punished, but it was not my intention to make her feel that way and that perhaps her recollection of our phone call was missing some key components. I appreciated her paying me to work for her start up company, however it took me off the market for those 8 months and now I had to go back to pounding the pavement.

She tried to explain her position, the difficulty of the business, a business I had been in longer than her, and I simply told her that I wished her and her company well and that I had to take another call. That was it. I have to confess, I do not feel bad about our friendship ending. There are friends for a reason and friends for a season. Her season was over. The negativity was over. My exhaustion with our friendship was over. I had compassion fatigue. Our friendship ending is what I needed and I cut the emotional and spiritual umbilical cord with her. My Mom asked if there is a possibility of us being friends again. I don't see it. I don't want it. I don't want to go backwards and in a direction which doesn't bring me joy. I have to confess, I feel much happier now and am meeting new friends who laugh and are happy with life. Cliche alert . . . everything happens for a reason. Our friendship ending was to show me the future is bright.

Pen Pals

Face Value