Friday, September 29, 2023

Oh, shut up!

Every day I try to be more Melly and less Scarlett. Meaning I try to see the good in everyone, I try to be kind, I want to want to help. But I admit it: no one brings out the willful, selfish, snark in me faster than my friend Kathy.

She is cognitively impaired. Is it Alzheimer's? I don't know for sure. Three or four years ago, when she was still high functioning but beginning to fail, she got furious if anyone mentioned she should see a doctor. 

Now she's far worse. Her phone is her lifeline. She is on social media constantly, commenting on everything -- even when she doesn't understand it. I try to protect her by hiding most of her comments and straight-up deleting others. Most of the time, it's Melanie who is guiding me. 

But this morning I woke up to her splashing all caps all over my Facebook feed: I DO NOT USE MESSENGER. I seethed but just clicked delete, delete, delete to every one of her comments. Here's the thing -- Kathy does use Messenger. All the time. She sent me an IM yesterday via Messenger about my cat and I responded with a "thumbs up," which somehow pissed her off. 

Then I checked my phone and there was a text: NO MESSENGER! I DO NOT USE MESSENGER!

We just did this last month. She sent me an IM via Messenger asking me what books I'd recommend. Now let's face it: Kathy no longer retains anything she reads, so nothing I say will make any difference. But I didn't want to hurt her feelings by ignoring her. Since Messenger upsets her so, I sent her an email that began: You sent me a Facebook IM asking me about books, but I know you don't like receiving IMs so I'm answering you here ...

Her response: Thanks for the books but what is an IM?

Me: IM = Instant Message. Or Facebook Messenger. It's what you sent me yesterday. You have made it clear that you don't like to receive them. So rather than responding to you by hitting reply to your message, I sent you an email. (See attached.) The attachment was a screenshot of the Facebook Messenger message she sent.

Her response: Thnx, Gal.

Here we are weeks later, doing the same thing. If I ignore her, she's going to hound me about why we are no longer "connected." So how to answer?

I admit I was feeling distinctly Scarlett. I wanted to say, "Oh, shut up!" I wanted to say, "Listen, I don't care if I never hear from you ever again." 

But I took a deep breath and stopped myself. Instead I texted back: I do not initiate Facebook Messenger messages. What I sent you yesterday was in response to the one you sent me.

Her response: Thnx, Gal.

I know we will go through this again in a week or two. What is especially disturbing to me is that Kathy has more than 100 Facebook friends. It's depressing to contemplate how many other people have explained to her -- repeatedly -- that she does use Messenger.

God, I wish someone in her family would delete Facebook from her fucking phone. See? There's Scarlett again. I'm glad Melanie is sitting on my shoulder, reminding me that it costs me nothing to be kind to a 76-year-old woman who is doing her best and must feel frightened and isolated.


  1. You are a good and kind person, I can tell. You are a good example to me. I know that your inner Melanie will win out, but let's face it, we are all have more than a little Scarlett within. Have a good weekend.

  2. It is perfectly okay to have those Scarlett thoughts because Melanie comes out to play most of the time. If, in your stress or frustration, you let Scarlett out....FORGIVE YOURSELF. You are human with human feelings and thoughts. Then go back to being Melanie. Dealing with cognitive failings is stressful and none of us is perfect.

  3. All you can do is deal with it as best you can. Some days are not our best days, but whatever you do that day is the best you could do at that time. It has taken me a long time to learn that, and I still don't like the lesson, but it's the absolute truth for me. I do the best I can. When I apply that to other people, I tend to be more forgiving. They're doing, or have done, the best they can at that particular time.

  4. I'm sorry your friend is failing in a frustrating way. You're a very good friend.


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