How do I handle being mistreated by a dear friend?

A dear friend was living on my property. Before she left, she agreed to take some large items of hers to the dump. Given that we were so close, we appreciated how unnecessary it was to have any concern as to whether she would fulfill her promise. She moved out while I was traveling, and when I returned, there were all of her things. She had not removed them and left no note. I have not heard from her and calls and emails go unanswered. It just seems so strange and out of character. I feel hurt and confused. How can I hold this situation?

My thoughts (in chronological sequence):

  1. If she was really a dear friend of mine, my first concern would be for her welfare, not distress at having to clean up after her.
  2. Let me know if I can help out, Bruce. I’ve got a nice little trailer, and I’ll bet we can even have some fun if we do the dump run together (especially if it can be scheduled when the weather is a bit better).
  3. Smile; regardless of how terrible things are, they certainly could always be worse. (For example: are we sure she’s still alive?).

I, too, just hate it when my expectations about the future are wildly inaccurate (e.g., never saw a Trump Presidency coming). Still, in a world as fundamentally  uncertain as this one, I reckon that any friend is liable to be more valuable than the time and energy lost moving a pile of poo…

It’s the stuff that we can’t forgive that we carry around with us. Typically, that kind of baggage just gets heavier as time goes on. Our wounded egos actually appear to cherish the stuff. They often refuse to put it down. Or, at least, mine does…

Reminds me of the story about the two monks at the ford in the river.

One was a Venerable Ajahn who had many, many rains retreats ‘under his belt’ (so to speak). The other was considerably younger and had just ordained a few years prior. He revered the elder monk, and looked up to him as a role model. “One day,” thought the youngster, “I want to be just like him. His mind is so peaceful and serene; would that mine were like that!”

When they arrived at the river’s ford, it was right after a pretty bad rainstorm (kinda like what’s been going on the last few days out here, in my neck o’ the woods). Anyway, the river was unusually swift and high, and the footing wasn’t ideal. Still, they wanted to get back to the monastery before nightfall, and, unfortunately, they had miles to go yet.

As it happened, at the bank of the river there was a very beautiful young woman, who clearly was afraid to cross over to the other side. Without hesitation, the old monk picked her up, seated her on top of his shoulders, and calmly crossed the rushing torrent — mindfully considering each step of the way.

As you probably already know, being with an unaccompanied female is strictly forbidden to monks — let alone any physical contact, such as our ol’ monk enjoyed while crossing the river. Now, this got to the the younger fellow.

For the following miles that they walked together while returning to the monastery, he held his tongue. But — man oh man —seeing his idol violate a very significant one of the (227) rules they had both had vowed to keep . . . it was just too much for him. By the time they arrived at the gates of the monastery, the young monk could stand it no more. He finally confronted his mentor, making it very clear the he found the failure of the Venerable Ajahn to adhere to their rules of conduct to be a monumental disappointment. In anger he shouted: “How can you possibly justify being so careless with our vows!”

Well, the old monk was silent for a while. Then, with a beatific smile on his face he turned to his upset companion and said, “Ah… but I put her down at the other side of the river. You, are still carrying her.”

The youngster suddenly understood and, funny thing, he made more progress down his own ‘path’ that day than he had in the whole previous year.

So, may our paths be strewn with similar lessons, eh?

Your friend,



I’ll bet my poop smells just as bad as your ‘dear friend’s.

Relax; remember: nobody gets out alive!


on January 12, 2017.

Hi Larry – Thanks for this thoughtful response. Actually, this is a response more than just a comment. Comments are intended to be an opportunity to provide feedback about a submission to the one posting it. Maybe there is a request for more info or clarity, Maybe a suggestion about how to make the post more effective or aligned with site values. Comments are also intended to be loving, friendly, educational opportunities where we help each other realize our heart’s potential to the fullest. We want to stay clear of condemning or criticizing. Or maybe a comment can simply be used to share a note with the author of the submission. Responses are really where we Stop, Drop into into hearts and Ask for guidance which we can then share. Comments are more about facilitating the communication of the posts themselves or connecting with the author. There will be some guiding text over the comment entry box soon as we continue to refine the site. Thanks again for a humorous, thoughtful response!

on January 14, 2017.
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3 Response(s)

Wow Larry, I really appreciate your comment/response. When I read your first point about caring for my friend first, I immediately dropped out of my shoes into my friend’s. I also dropped into my heart. No one else has been able to reach her either. We’re wondering what has happened to her. Now, instead of holding a grudge and negative feelings which just made me suffer, I’m holding care. While I am still concerned for her welfare, my heart is not heavy with this feeling of being mistreated. I also realize how easy it is for me to put on my “victim” hat. My intention to not put on that hat has been deepened. Thank You!

Responded on January 14, 2017.

Let me know if I can help out, Bruce. I’ve got a nice little trailer, and I’ll bet we can even have some fun if we do the dump run together (especially if it can be scheduled when the weather is a bit better).

Responded on January 12, 2017.

What I am feeling goes one layer deeper. Since it’s a given that you are a thoughtful person who cares about people, I am less inclined to think that this was solely a reminder to put yourself in her shoes. What comes to me is that the generosity of spirit you extended so gracefully (both in your actions and your thoughts) was not met in kind in that moment, and put simply: that hurts. Regardless of why it happened (and we’re not judging the other person), it does not diminish the sting of being met this way while being open, vulnerable and trusting with someone. I’ve observed that sometimes going straight to empathy without a true acknowledgment of self with it, carries the risk of spiritual bypass and perpetuates the negative feelings. So if even for a moment, without adding any other dialogue, context or attempt to understand, we could acknowledge our pain without judgment, it would create space to see others more clearly. I have experienced that unseen pain is so often covered with the “shoulds” in life:  i.e. “she’s my friend, I should be able to let this go” or “I am spiritual, this shouldn’t bother me”. These layers don’t allow the pain to be seen, which is ultimately what’s necessary to transmute it and return to oneness.

Responded on February 9, 2017.