Getting My Wish for More Hours in the Day
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.
This birthday has been full of gifts—unexpected and amazing and ruthless and, in the long run, very good for me. But right now, I’m struggling with them all, with all these epiphanies coming faster than I can assimilate them. The man on the healing table is channeling from some unseen Great Hall where they tell me that this sadness will pass, and that I should play more, and that if all these new breakthroughs are coming too fast for me, then I can ask my spirit guides to slow them down. Only, I don’t want to slow them down. I just don’t want them to hurt so bad. And I want to understand.
I’ve said for many, many years that I wished I had more time. Well, I now have more time. As of today.
Instead of spending my lunch hour on the phone next Wednesday with a particular friend of ten years who’s in weekly need of career advice to handle a job where she feels she’s in over her head, I’ve decided to spend that hour with my favorite counselor, doing something for me. This friend hasn’t been available for me to confide in since…well, I can’t remember.
Instead of staying late at the office to make up for the hour I spent listening to another friend moan about her husband’s overtime, I’m going home on time and taking my girls for a walk. Or maybe go to the gym. I don’t recall this friend ever listening to my own marital tales of woe, except once when she kept looking at her watch at lunch.
Instead of spending hours at night being the only person on the planet another friend has ever been able to talk to about a cheating mate, I’ve decided to spend those hours writing a new book that I never seem to have time to work on. I can count more broken promises from this friend than I can remember conversations.
Just from these three friends, I now can reclaim almost ten hours a week, and I can fill those hours with things that won’t suck me dry, with things that won’t take and take and take and never give back.
Last night at midnight, I shut down a whopping 17 friendships: three of them over 15 years old, several more of more than a decade, and some only a few months old. I didn’t even wait until the last of my birthday guests had gone before I felt compelled to pick up my cell phone and begin deleting names and phone numbers from the directory and text messages from storage. Since I don’t have these memorized, this information is gone, gone, gone.
If they want a friendship, it’s up to them. But it’s no longer acceptable to call me because they want something and never even ask if I’m okay, especially when they know I’ve just come through such a difficult time. It’s no longer acceptable for them to call at midnight with a desperate request for help and expect me to get out of bed and locate the information for them or give them instructions they’d pay someone else hundreds of dollars an hour to get. It’s no longer acceptable for them to ignore me for weeks and then remember that I have a special book they can borrow or some kind and gentle advice to heal their hearts.
If they want my friendship, they’ll have to take the initiative.
And when they do call and I ask them what they want from me, the only acceptable answer is, “I just want to be with you.”