The drama with Sylvia's friends, whom we'll call A & T, have been going on for nearly 2 years now. Sylvia's known A & T for approximately 2 years now. A & T have been friends much longer, and Sylvia has wanted to make the best friendship go 3 ways.
My heart breaks for her, as it does as I've listened to nearly every episode of this Drama for the past 2 years. Sylvia's desperation for their friendship is transparent. I don't think either A or T are necessarily bad people, but they certainly know how to exercise their power over Sylvia. They know just how to make her cry, they know just how to make her happy, and they do.
Sometimes, I've just listened. Sometimes, I've engaged in Active Listening, mirroring her feelings back to her. Sometimes, I encourage her to talk to them about her feelings. In times of frustration, I've been guilty of telling her to just ignore them, too. I've told her to think about what their friendships mean to her, and to decide whether or not it was worth the continuing drama in order to keep their friendship. I've told her a version of "honey, they're just not that into you."
Today, as she was telling me the latest episode in the car on the way home, I wondered what to say this time. I didn't want to repeat anything that I've said before. More than anything, I just want it to stop hurting her so.
I'm lucky, I know, that I haven't yet witnessed my girls experiencing a physical pain that I cannot stop. I don't even want to think about that because it's hard enough to watch her cry over the names they've called her, the mean things they've said about her hair and her face, the fact that they won't give her their cell phone numbers.
She says she wants to talk to them tomorrow. I ask, "what do you want to say to them?" "I want to tell them that I know what they've been saying about me."
Ah, that's the other wrinkle. Because a lot of it is hearsay. And while I do believe these girls are saying these things about her (because I myself have seen enough of their actions around her to buy it), I don't want this "talk" to become a verbal fight between the girls. They've all talked to staff members, they even had someone come in and talk to the girls about "Mean Girls" in general (which led to quite a few kids apologizing to Sylvia, BTW), but enough is enough.
So I offered another alternative. I told her that all she needs to say is that she's done. She knows they're not friends and that's that.
Of course, she didn't like that. She wanted to move instead. (Amidst my wry amusement that she thinks it's that time of year again rears my maternal guilt that somehow, they think that moving is the solution.) I let her get some emotions out.
I then pulled out the greatest hits. We don't let other people run our lives like that. We can be in the same environment with people without having to be best friends. I gave a few examples; of someone I know at work that she knows I'm not crazy about, but that I'm not rude to them. I just don't offer any personal information about my life to them. I can be in the same room with them, I can answer questions and even be in a group social setting with them, but they will never be allowed to hurt me because I won't let them get that close.
She seemed to be listening. There was silence for a few moments, and then I added, "And I'm sorry. That sucks."
She changed the subject, we were home soon, and we had a peaceful night at home. She told me she loved me quite a few times. She gave me hugs, and sat next to me on the couch while we watched a stupid TV show together.
I don't know what she'll do tomorrow. I can only do so much, and she will have to do what feels right for her.