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Advice: rebuilding a friendship with WS's coworker

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PhantomLimb posted 9/25/2013 21:15 PM

Leading up to Dday, STBX was having a lot of trouble at work. I only know his side of the story, but several people in his office either quit or talked to his boss/HR about how he was difficult to work with, disrespectful and whatnot. His version: they were all crazy and incompetent.

It got to the point that when he began spending a lot of time with the coworker who was to become OW, I was just grateful he had a friend.

His secretary had been put on a provisional probation earlier in the year. She was on a pay scale above her expertise (long story) and STBX basically created a framework of tasks that would be impossible for her to meet so he could fire her. She quit before he could do it and made it very clear that she was disgusted by him.

I was about to begin a job in his office as well (I applied, in part, so I could get in there, help him adjust and make more positive connections) and I had a friend where I was working at the time who was unhappy with her pay and responsibilities. I suggested she apply for the job as STBX's new secretary. My friend was tough as nails and good at her job. The job with STBX would give her some professional experience she wanted. And I would be there as an allied boss, so I was planning to hand over more responsibilities to her as well to help her pad her resume.

She applied and STBX didn't want to hire her. He said he thought she would be just like all of these other women in the office who hated him. But I talked him into it. He basically did it as a favor to me. But I knew she was good and I knew that she would put WS in an excellent light. And, personally, I wanted another friend in the office. He offered and she accepted.

These jobs with STBX were across the country (my job had taken me out of state for a few months where I was working with this friend). About a week before my friend and I were about to move out there for good, DDay happened.

Once I learned that I would have to work with STBX AND OW, I quit the job. We ended up having a false R and within three weeks we were S and started NC (which stands today). Luckily I hadn't officially quit my other job yet and was able to keep it.

My friend wasn't so lucky. She had already quit and signed a lease. She had to go out there. We had a long talk, I told her what was going on, and explained to her that I wouldn't be able to talk to her as long as she was out there working everyday with STBX and OW. She understood, but it was quite sad. I had a hard time looking at/talking to her before she left. I would see her and just start crying. She understood. She would leave me little notes under my office door with hearts and hugs drawn on them, promising we'd be friends again someday.

We kept in intermittent contact about business only. If she let something slip about STBX, I would remind her I didn't want to know. Our mutual friends also kept in contact with her and I'd get updates on how she was doing through them.

Then about two months after she started the job, she emailed me to tell me that she had decided to quit. She had to stick out the term of her initial contract, but she'd be back as soon as she could-- with or without a job waiting for her. I didn't ask for details, but told her I was glad she was coming "home."

Since then, one of STBX's other coworkers (whom I've never met) called me out of the blue on our anniversary to tell me STBX is still with OW, among other things. I hung up and stopped taking that person's calls (thanks to the good people at SI).

I felt physically ill after having to deal with that whole phone call situation and realized I want nothing to do with STBX, his office drama and weird personal choices. It just causes me a lot of distress and "new hurts."

But then yesterday I got an evite to a welcome home party for my friend. I guess the month has just gotten away from me and I kind of forgot that this situation of her return home was looming.

I don't think I can go to this party. All of our mutual friends are going, but I'm just not ready to "face" her in a setting with a lot of people, with my emotions still a little bit of a mystery. The upside to NC has been that I don't have to deal with STBX and I've just been working on my own healing. The downside is that I haven't had exposure to him or what he's been up to, so I have no point of reference for how I will handle news about him. I handled the news that he was still with OW like a champ. I was actually pretty indifferent. That's good. But I don't know how I would handle hearing, say, that he's been doing really well, or that he's been successful at work, etc etc. I don't want to know details about how he's thriving despite having crushed me. Unless he's had some kind of karmically satisfying Bobbitt incident, I don't want to hear it.

One of our mutual friends (who knows everything) talked to me this afternoon and wanted to let me know she was going to go to the party and wanted to be upfront about that. I explained to her that I didn't know what I wanted to do. On one hand, I want to maintain this friendship. I don't want STBX's A to hurt yet another area of my life. On the other hand, it just makes me sick that she was with them everyday. I hate that there have to be boundaries within our friendship now. And, frankly, I'm embarrassed. She could very well have watched STBX and OW all over each other all summer. Humiliating.

I also hate that STBX's inability to treat me with any dignity or respect has resulted in this permanent NC which, in some ways, puts my friend "in the middle" in terms of having to worry about being careful what she says around me.

Our mutual friend suggested that maybe I skip this party and the three of us could have a dinner at her house in a week or so instead. Give my friend a chance to get her bearings being back home. Give me a chance to adjust to her being "back", talk to my IC about it, etc. That seemed like a decent idea to me. I have no problem sitting down with her and just putting everything I just wrote here on the table and seeing where we both stand on how to be friends going forward, if at all. And our mutual friend has known me for almost 20 years, has been one of the #1 people there for me after DDay... so it would be nice for me to have her there as an emotional support.

What do you guys think? Is this friendship going to be DOA now? How should I handle this?

The other thing I've said to my mutual friend is that I don't want everyone around me to know something critical about STBX/OW and not tell me out of a concern for sparing me hurt. Yes, I want "No New Hurts"-- but I would rather find out from my close and trusted friends, say, that STBX/OW are having a baby or getting married or have moved in together, rather than find that out from some crazy coworker who cold calls me or from a random person at a professional conference, etc.


[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 9:19 PM, September 25th (Wednesday)]

HurtsButImOK posted 9/26/2013 04:57 AM

Its a tough one. I think its really only a decision you can make as you know your circumstances best.

In my situation I decided to face front on some 'delicate' things so that they no longer had a hold over me. I maintained contact with XSIL (I like her as a person and didn't want to lose her in the split). We don't speak about X. Its not uncomfortable but as you say just a boundary that is felt. That's okay, its still relatively new but I have known her for 9 or so years.

I recently have been in contact with XFIL for professional reasons. Again the boundary is that we don't speak about X. XFIL is actually a mentor of mine now so the contact is purely business matters and experiences.

For my self I made the decision that X is no longer controlling my life. If I want contact with someone I have it. I will keep it if it is beneficial to me.

Its your life PL, you get to set the rules now. Enjoy

brokendancer7 posted 9/26/2013 09:50 AM

Maybe I don't understand all the nuances of this situation, but I can't see that your friend has been in any way disloyal to you. She was going out to work in the new place because you were going and helped her get the job. You (understandably!) decided not to go, but she wasn't as lucky and still had to go. The fact that she got back as fast as she legally could, because of her contract, tells me that she isn't going to be any more eager to talk about STBX than you are. She probably wants to put that chapter of her life behind her as soon as she can.

Aside from any information she has right now, is she going to have a pipeline of news about what is happening at STBX's office? It just seems sad to lose a good, sympathetic friend because of "his" unfortunate actions.

I can understand how you might feel on display at the party, but could you send her a message saying, "Sorry I can't make the party, but looking forward to seeing you at X's house in a couple of weeks"?

PhantomLimb posted 9/26/2013 23:09 PM

I think I will send her a note telling her that I'm just not ready to see/talk to her in public. I mean, imagine someone at the party asking her questions about her time at the job and/or her boss. Oy. I'm just not up for it!

I think she'll understand. I hope so, anyway.

And I hope we'll be able to get this past us quickly. Had tea with another mutual colleague/friend today and she agrees that if we put our feelings out on the table, talk about some boundaries, etc... she only worked there for three months and that experience will become more and more remote and we can rebuild our friendship from a new foundation.

[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 11:10 PM, September 26th (Thursday)]

PhantomLimb posted 9/26/2013 23:10 PM

Doubled! Whoops!

[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 11:10 PM, September 26th (Thursday)]

MrsDoubtfire posted 9/27/2013 00:24 AM

Gentle 2x4 here but you practically offered her the job on a platter. Unless she knew about the A which your post doesn't indicate then I think you're being totally unreasonable here.

I doubt people will want to talk about your WS at her welcome home party as much as you probably think they might so don't not go just because of this as, would she be kept in the loop after she leaves? I doubt any of your WS's coworkers will have developed such a close bond with her in such a short time that they will keep her informed about OW and ex's relationship in the longer term so I guess it's just her party you're dreading?

Again, if it weren't for you engineering her being hired she wouldn't be in such a predicament.

Please don't make her a scapegoat as she sounds to have been honourable throughout.

I think you need to reevaluate this. I hope your friendship can thrive and I hope you font end up losing what sounds like a genuinely honourable friend.

Sorry if this sounds harsh. It's not meant to be an attack on you so please don't be offended. It's just my observation is all.

[This message edited by MrsDoubtfire at 12:27 AM, September 27th (Friday)]

cayc posted 9/27/2013 05:27 AM

Why not just be honest with her? Tell her the thought of seeing her around lots of other people freaks you the fuck out because of the reason for the party in the first place. Tell her you''ve maintained a rigid NC policy as far as your WH & that job are concerned, so therefore in order to keep that policy you''re going to have to regretfully decline to attend.

Tell her you''re sorry for your role in this year of upheaval but you''re glad she''s survived it.

Tell her you''ll be happy to meet up with her soon & explore your friendship with her & tell her you''re glad she''s back.

And then at that 1 on 1 you can judge your own comfort level of whether or not the friendship can continue.

There''s nothing wrong with how you feel, but you do need to be upfront, not use a third party as an intermediary. Being dodgy about it will only increase speculation & hurt feelings.

[This message edited by cayc at 5:27 AM, September 27th, 2013 (Friday)]

PhantomLimb posted 9/27/2013 08:03 AM

I wrote to her this morning and told her there were two reasons I'm not going to go. The first has to do with work and is completely reasonable (and would have stood on its own as a decent excuse, frankly), which I don't have to get into here.

The other is that I told her that I'm in a much better place than I was during DDay (which she witnessed to an extent), but that I'm not quite sure I'm up for being in a situation where she is likely to discuss her experience out there.

And I reiterated how glad I am that she's home and that I would love to have dinner with her soon so we can get back to the business of being friends.

Beyond concerns about the WS and the A and how she sort of embodies a connection to all of that-- keep in mind that she also got to go and work in the place that I was supposed to work. The job I had to quit was extremely lucrative and prestigious and one that I wanted badly and had looked forward to. Instead I ended up unemployed all summer, I had to take a job where I make 1/5 of what I would have in the job I quit AND WS already owed me $1000 for a loan my family gave him a few weeks before Dday...

So there is more to this for me than just WS. Because I quit, she basically got to do the job I was supposed to do for the months that she was there.

[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 8:03 AM, September 27th (Friday)]

PhantomLimb posted 9/29/2013 18:36 PM

So she wrote me back and told me that she knows it will be hard, but she's going to let me take the lead and she'll sit down with me and answer anything that I want to ask, but she won't elaborate beyond just the facts.

And she recognizes that this might end up being too much for us to overcome, but she'll do anything she can to help us get past this.

I guess that's all I can ask.

anewday78 posted 9/29/2013 19:03 PM

I'm a bit confused here. This:

Luckily I hadn't officially quit my other job yet and was able to keep it.
Seems to be at odds with this:
Instead I ended up unemployed all summer, I had to take a job where I make 1/5 of what I would have in the job I quit
I'm having trouble following your story and understanding why you're so upset with your friend.

PhantomLimb posted 9/29/2013 19:27 PM

I was working as a teacher. I was able to keep the job I had been in by agreeing to come back the next school year. However, that left me unemployed for the summer.

The job I quit was in an office. I am now making 1/5 what I would have made in that other job.

And I'm not upset with my friend. She chose to take the job, despite what my STBX did, and that's her choice.

The problem is that STBX has "poofed" on me and cut me out of his life entirely. So now my friend is in this position of having worked very closely with both STBX and OW for the last three months-- likely knows all of the missing pieces that I don't about what it going on with him-- and it puts a wedge in our friendship.

Sad in AZ posted 9/29/2013 19:27 PM

I'm with Anewday; something is off here. You were supposed to be her boss; now, you are saying that she took the job that you would have had.

Sad in AZ posted 9/29/2013 19:29 PM

She chose to take the job, despite what my STBX did, and that's her choice.

You engineered her into this job.

PhantomLimb posted 9/29/2013 19:58 PM

I don't know how to answer you and maintain anonymity.

I'll put it this way: her job was as STBX's secretary. My job was allied to STBX as a director of a program associated with his position. Two people were hired under me, but my plan was to pass on a number of responsibilities to my friend as well, in order to help her pad her resume.

When I quit, they didn't bother to fill my position in his office. They split my responsibilities between STBX, my friend and the two people they hired under me. So, yes, she ended up doing some of my job.

She had been a teacher as well before this. When she quit her job, they automatically replaced her in-house. So she had nothing to go back to. So she had to go out and work for STBX, or nothing.

The job I was in had not been filled yet, which is why I was able to get it back at the last min, after I quit the position with STBX. But because I had already quit before the summer started, I wasn't kept on salary. That's why I went "unemployed" for the summer. I had no income until the new school year started.

And, again, the teaching job pays 1/5 of what the office job would have.

I hope that helps.

[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 7:59 PM, September 29th (Sunday)]

cayc posted 9/29/2013 20:14 PM

So she wrote me back and told me that she knows it will be hard, but she's going to let me take the lead and she'll sit down with me and answer anything that I want to ask, but she won't elaborate beyond just the facts.

Be careful. And don't rush this. In many ways you're still reeling. And *nothing* she's going to tell you is going to feel good.

Were I in your shoes, I couldn't do it. That friendship would wither and die because no matter what she told me, I'd be pissed. I be pissed at the details. Mad at her for telling me. Mad at her for not telling me. Mad at her for not standing up for me ... and on and on. Not to mention how my head would explode with more details about xWH's shit.

Just ... be careful. I'm having a hard time finding the benefit in trying to rescue this friendship for you.

PhantomLimb posted 9/29/2013 20:36 PM

I have to say, I'm starting to feel that way, too.

A mutual friend emailed to tell me that my friend asked after me at her homecoming party. Asked how I was. Wanted to arrange to have dinner as soon as I was ready.

Just hearing that much made me feel awful. I've been crying off and on all night.

I feel like talking to her would open pandora's box. I feel like even if we tried to be friends, there is so much between us that can't be said... I don't see how that is the foundation of a friendship that can survive.

Maybe YEARS from now, when I've achieved indifference, we could start over. At a point when info about STBX doesn't affect me one way or another... so if something "slips"-- it doesn't matter. After all, this was only 3 mos of her life. In the long run, it shouldn't be *that* big of a deal.

But, right now. I don't think I can handle it.

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