The Acid Test

The acid test – a method where aqua regia, an acid that dissolves gold, is smudged on a metal to determine whether it is real gold; also a method by which relationships are tested.

The acid test of friendship is whether you are there when your friend needs you. And by being there I mean being present when your friend is going through things you would rather not see or think about, things that aren’t pretty, things like illness, unemployment and poverty.

Last night hundreds of my neighbor’s friends and colleagues passed that test. It was wonderful and restored some of my much battered faith in friendship.

But only some.

My personal experience makes me much more skeptical. With the exception of a few steadfast friends whose support and love have saved my life (and for this I am eternally grateful), the relationships that I counted among my longest and deepest have been conspicuously absent through the past five months. Months of unemployment, poverty and depression; months when I needed friends more than ever, especially the friends I had given fully and completely of myself when they themselves were in need.

One relationship is now reduced to text messages and emails; the other is any body’s guess.  In both cases I think my unemployment is an issue but no matter, for whatever reason, they have not been present.

As for family, mine clearly failed the acid test long ago. I have no doubt that if they could erase me from my mother’s memory their lives would be happier. My mom was pretty lucid tonight when she told me that my brother David’s wife was coming in and that I should not be there when she visited because it would be “uncomfortable.” I had planned on spending some time with her over the next few days – maybe bring her here for the day. She gently suggested sometime next week.

All I know is that if the tables were turned, as they have been in the past, whether family or friend, I would be there with whatever help I could offer.

We all say we believe that everyone should be treated well, but what we really mean is that we want to be treated well. If the cold shoulder or unkindness or misfortune doesn’t touch our lives we may think it tragic or wrong or unfortunate, but the over riding emotion is relief – thank G-d it isn’t happening to me.

I have been unemployed for five months and I am so tired. I am discouraged about finding work, let alone good work. As I wait for my divorce settlement to arrive I balance the fact that I will no longer have health insurance against the fact, that I will have enough to cover food, car payments and gasoline for a few more months of unemployment.

And for those of you who say why doesn’t she work at ____ (name any store/restaurant/market) – they aren’t hiring. And for those of you who are thinking – what about public assistance (even as you wrinkle your nose in distain) as a single woman, believe it or not, with almost nothing, I have too much to qualify.

My stomach is churning and I wonder how I will find the strength to get through the family drama and the increasing isolation I experience as the result of my unemployment.

One foot in front of the other, one day at a time – I am doing the best I can.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Becky
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 07:22:13


    I’m so sorry fivehusbands. I’m so very sorry. I wish I could wave a wand and make things better. Someday, someday things will turn around.

    And you know what? I’m still your friend no matter what.

    Thank you Aunt Becky – by the way I can’t wait to read part 2 the original Uncle Pervy


  2. Lola
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 17:55:19

    I have two friends that can be trusted to be there, my husband who I’ve been with for 25 years (since I was 17), and my BFF, Lily. That’s it. I’ve got a lot of people who think they’re my friends, and they are, but I know damn sure who will and won’t let me down. I never thought my mother would, but she did one really big time (not bad for 42 years). She has admitted she was so very wrong, and we have a great relationship, but…

    Over the years with my husband, I have hated him at times, once for two years I think, but I realized I only hated him as a husband, not what he really is, one of my best friends. I could soooo lose him as a husband, but every time it comes to that, I know I can’t lose him as a friend. He has let me down as a husband, but never as a friend. He could say the same for me.

    I just found your site today, but I wish you that kind of friendship and for your job status to turn around very, very quickly. Every day seems to be getting worse with the Republican economy, but I’ll send good Sassy vibes your way.

    Thank you for visiting, commenting and sending the sassy vibes – I appreciate it.


  3. Trula
    Jun 13, 2008 @ 12:35:08

    This is a good read, so brutal and honest. I must admit, I have failed the acid test many times. I am not a good friend and an even worse sibling. I don’t handle the stress of other people well at all…when my friends and family are going through hard times they feel like an anchor wrapped around my legs; like they are just going to pull me down under with them or something.

    On jobs, if you aren’t picky register with a couple of temp agencies like snider-blake, area temps, JJ delong, etc. They are always hiring for customer service jobs at various call centers around Cleveland; they’d put you to work right away. You could work 2nd shift maybe, that way you’d have your mornings free to go on interviews for a permanent good job but still have $3-400+ coming in every week.

    Thanks Trula – I will check it out.


  4. haroon
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 03:40:10

    Be strong and keep faith. Regarding job front, I spent more than six months of applying. I had absoluetly no response for ANY job (not even a rejection email). And just when my resolve was about to be broken, I found a job, it wasn’t perfect but it got me by month to month. Two months later, I applied for an internal position and now I am in the best and most enjoyable job role.

    Just keep faith. As for friends. They say, you know you’ve had a good life if you can count five close friends at ur deathbed. Three weeks ago, I would’ve said I had more than five but now I’m not soo sure.


  5. Jeremy
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 22:17:53

    Hello, i just happened to come upon your blog while looking up the quote: “Everyone I knows fails the acid test of friendship” from Calvin and Hobbes (a comic book series). I found your explanation extremely helpful, since i didn’t know what that statement meant. But I also found your story interesting and happened to read the rest of your story. I guess I don’t know you at all since I’m a complete stranger, but I just wanted to encourage you to keep being strong and trying hard, even if life isn’t giving you much of anything. Best wishes! And I hope you’re situation has improved since this posting.

    Side note: I also think you’re a pretty good writer


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