live with courage not regretMy movement from hurt feelings to sympathy happened fairly quickly after a friend apologized for not reaching out to me during my sick leave.

She said she had meant to call or send a card countless times but that something for work always got in the way.

Her remorse was obvious.

What resonated so much was how I could identify with her good intentions getting lost in the swirl of appointments; endless to-do lists; and dealing with grumpy, impatient bosses addicted to impossibly short deadlines.

I’d been there.

There’s one situation that still haunts me. A friend’s long-time husband had asked here for a divorce. She thought they were happily married. She was dumbfounded to discover he’d been seeing someone for over a year. 

Her ordeal was happening at the same time my job was operating at warp speed. My employer was in the process of a merger, and I was the HR/OD point person. A workday of less than 14 hours was a treat.

Along with hubby time and sleep, time with her took a backseat to work demands. Our friendship was never the same.

She couldn’t forgive me for not being there anytime she needed support. Her withdrawal hurt, but I understood. I’d let work become my number one priority and wasn’t there for her.

Did I do the right thing?

My boss and employer would say absolutely.

Others disagree.

At the time, I thought I’d made the right choice. I now see how wrong I was.

We all get to decide what’s important to us. Where we spend our time. Who we spend it with. What boundaries we set. What master we choose to serve.

That boss and employer are part of my past. They sure didn’t send me a get well card this summer. In fact, they didn’t even say thank you for the merger that was so well-received by the employees of both companies.

I made an either/or choice years ago when I should have made a both/and one. I should have figured out how to carve out quality time for my friend and manage my work.

I should have been courageous enough to tell my boss that I was going to manage all my priorities, not just the work-related ones, but I wasn’t.

Today I have that courage. I just wish I’d found it sooner.


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