I’d appreciate some advice about a sensitive subject. Someone I had considered a friend was accused of a crime, and I’m having a hard time not letting it affect my opinion of her and, as a result, our friendship. While it wasn’t a violent crime, it still affected people, though not me directly. But when I have asked her about it, she has been dismissive or vague in her answers. She hasn’t denied she did it, but she also hasn’t taken responsibility or expressed any sense of guilt or regret, at least to me. It’s made me seriously question whether to continue our friendship. Am I in the wrong for letting something that didn’t directly affect me end a decade-long friendship? And what would you recommend that I do next?
It seems to the Elderly Aunt that what’s at stake here is not just your relationship with another person, but your relationship with yourself as well. Other people come and go, but we’re stuck living with ourselves, no matter what. And when we behave in any way that runs counter to our best selves, we turn the inside of our own heads into an uncomfortable muddle from which as Martha and the Vandellas put it so well: we have nowhere to run, baby; nowhere to hide.
With this in mind, the Elderly Aunt suggests you answer the following four questions bare-naked truthfully. In writing. As she is a firm believer that putting one’s thoughts down on the page is a mightily effective way to dehooey-fy them.
- Is this alleged miscreant a true friend—i.e. someone with whom you can almost always be your unguarded self? Or is she merely a long-term, pleasant acquaintance with whom you enjoy hanging out?
- Has she been arrested for this “crime” or merely accused of some form of anti-social behavior by others who might or might not know what’s they’re talking about? In other words, is there real evidence that’s she’s done real wrong?
- How much of your worry about your future relationship with this person is influenced by the opinions of others? About both her and yourself?
- What would you expect of this person if the situation were reversed and you were the one accused of a crime?
Okay, so now what? That, dear reader, is the fifth and final question for you to answer. Not in words, but in your actions.
Frustratingly, neither life nor the Elderly Aunt comes with an instruction book. Each of us does, however, come with a conscience — the reliable voice of our best self.
It’s up to each of us to decide whether or not to listen to that voice.
What is at stake is our own peace of mind, which in the Elderly Aunt’s opinion, is as valuable as valuable gets when it comes to the higgledy-piggledy business of living.
The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday. And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”
Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions).