Author Topic: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)  (Read 7866 times)

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Yarnspinner

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Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« on: April 14, 2013, 01:25:40 PM »
Hope I can keep this to the point, but because it's me, I will have to reign myself in.  I wrote about this issue before but had the thread deleted because it was so unbearably juvenile and high school that I was embarrassed to have been the one who wrote it.  However things are heating up now and I need some advice on how to deal (or not deal) with at least one of the parties in what is threatening to be an ugly divorce.  Although it deals with workplace companions, we are mostly friends outside of work, so I am putting this in the General Category.

I have known and worked with Paul for about twenty years.  From what I can tell Paul has always been a true gentleman, patient, kind and good hearted.  He is married to Annie who is pleasant to talk to but who is also (my own personal experience proves this true) unable to get through the day without creating drama.  Can she not find her car keys?  She calls Paul at work and insists he comes home to help her look.  Two hours later the keys are discovered wedged up into a corner of her purse.  Does her mother require medication?  Paul has to drive over to administer it because Annie is afraid she'll do it wrong and poison her Mom.  Did the cat throw up?  Paul needs to come home immediately because the cat might be sick and Annie can't bear to clean up the result hairball that caused the problem. 

Annie is on medication for everything from anxiety and agraphobia to depression and dolor.  She has been in therapy countless times for her panic attacks which will cause her to pull off the road while she is driving and--yes, call Paul at work to talk her through them.  Now that her mother is suffering with senility her siblings think that Annie and Paul (who live closest) should take care of Mom (and Annie thinks so, too) and none of them will entertain the idea of assisted living.  You know who spends all his time taking care of this woman, right?  His OWN parents didn't expect this level of care from him.

Annie and I are friendly.  We sit together at company parties and so on...but she is scary intense and cannot seem to understand the simplest things or how not to invade another person's privacy.  (I had to stop myself from answering all her very pointed and graphic questions about a hysterectomy I had years ago).  In my limited experience of her, Annie is extremely immature and exhausting to be around.  (She makes me look like I should receive the Most Capable Person of the Year Award.)  Although I was initially disappointed in Paul's decision to have a separation, the more that filters through (not from Paul, but from other coworkers) to me has cemented my belief that Paul has done the right thing for his health and sanity by filing for divorce. 

And here is my problem:  Annie has decided that she needs to call me and keep me apprised of the situation.  Fortunately, she calls when I am not at home and leaves long, rambling messages (and has to call back to finish them) on my voice mail.  It's more than a little bit creepy as she definitely wants me to feel that Paul is being unfair and cruel.  (He served her with the papers on the twentieth anniversary of their engagement which was probably not the brightest thing he has done and he admits it.)  She repeats in these lengthy messages that "I know you can't take sides, but....." and follows up with some new wrong Paul has committed.

Then, at work, Paul will tell me the same thing with less detail.  I have put my hands up to say "I support you in your decision, but TMI! TMI!"

The male contingent of my department tells me that Annie has been physically abusive (I have suspected this myself for a number of reasons) as well.  I've tried to avoid discussions like this because...I don't want to know, despite my curious nature.

So the question, if there is one, is : Can I support Paul in his decision while still not taking sides exactly?  Should I return Annie's calls?  (I haven't so far because Annie can suck the life out of you when she's happy and carefree and I can't imagine what it might be like to have to talk to Annie for hours on end when she's NOT happy and carefree.  I have had lengthy conversations with her about my experience with taking anti-depressants and anti anxiety meds where, when the call ended, I wanted to down a whole bottle just to cheer up again--and she was in a GOOD mood while we were talking.)  She has asked me to contact her so we can have lunch.  I would rather pick up dog poop from the cnodo lawn with my bare hands.  And frankly, I am a little leery of getting anywhere near her if she is, as my other coworkers and friends suggest, getting physical with her anger.

Do I ignore the calls?  Do I tell Paul NOT to tell me detailed information?  Do I change my phone number and move to Timbuktu?  If you have had any experience with this sort of "friends going through an ugly divorce" situation, I will appreciate any advice about being nice, polite and--safe.

(And yes, I did choose those names deliberately.)

NyaChan

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 01:38:57 PM »
"Annie,  I completely understand that this will be a difficult time for both you and Paul and I wish you both the best as you work through it.  I am not comfortable getting involved in your divorce and that includes knowing the private details of your relationship.  Please respect my wishes."


AmethystAnne

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 01:44:12 PM »
Of course she wants you to take sides! Hers!!!

Don't return Annie's phone calls, delete her messages (don't even listen to them). Is it possible to set up her number with a "Silent" ring on your cell phone? Do not, under any circumstances, have lunch with her.





RubyCat

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 01:50:58 PM »
I think this is the perfect example of where "do not engage the crazy" is the best course. I would avoid her and not return phone calls. If you are somehow run into her, I think NyaChan's phrasing is perfect.  She sounds more than a little scary. Please be careful.

gramma dishes

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 01:56:27 PM »
I agree with all those before me.

Avoid.  Avoid.  Avoid.  In every way.  Do not answer her phone calls.  Do not respond to emails.  Definitely do not have lunch or any other face-to-face meeting.

And like Ruby Cat, should you happen to run into her randomly for some reason, I really like NyaChan's wording.

JenJay

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 02:16:39 PM »
What they said!

kudeebee

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 02:21:38 PM »
Agreed with the pps.

Delete the voicemails without listening to them.
Do not meet her for lunch.
See if you can block her number from your cell phone.  If not, delete those messages as well/never answer her calls.
Keep using your reply to Paul.
Use Nyachan's wording if you run into her, then excuse yourself and leave!
Do not comment on any office discussions about their divorce; in fact, leave the area when they start if you can.

cicero

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 02:22:25 PM »
Agree with the PPs.

NYachan has the perfect wording.

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Erich L-ster

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 02:25:40 PM »
I would also be extremely wary of becoming close to her for fear that I would be the one receiving cat puke/sick mom/lost key calls now that Paul is out.

*inviteseller

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 02:28:33 PM »
First off, thanks for causing Pepsi to come out of my nose with the visual of cleaning up dog poop.  In your head you can side with Paul.  At work or social settings bean dip bean dip bean dip.  I would delete her rambling messages and NOT return any of them and I would tell Paul when he starts that you understand he is in pain and needs a shoulder, but it is too awkward then walk away.  I got caught up in a friends separation and I couldn't find a rock big enough to hide under and these too were somewhat sane.  I don't know how you would deal with Anxiety Annie in the turmoil that is divorce.

Tia2

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2013, 02:29:31 PM »
She wants to meet for lunch so she can convince you either that Paul is scum or that he should return to her.  She will then expect you to spend all your time at work explaining one or the other to him.  This is a ploy to get an 'agent' on the inside.

I agree with everyone else.  If this was your BFF of 30 years and you felt her medical issues were making her act irrationally, maybe you should engage.  As it is, she appears to be a co-worker's wife that you don't like.  I think you should avoid her like the plague.  People like this limpet onto a new victim when their old one escapes.  You don't want to end up a replacement for Paul

buvezdevin

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2013, 02:35:44 PM »
I agree with PPs.

Just wanted to add the following:  it sounds as though your relationship with Paul, while long-standing and friendly, is primarily work-based, and your acquaintance with Annie is solely due to her being Paul's wife.  In Paul's case, your work will continue to put you two in contact, but should not require you to hear more of his personal information than you are comfortable knowing, and it seems you have let him know you wish him well in a challenging personal situation but prefer not to know details.  In Annie's case, it seems unlikely you would wish or choose to have any relationship with her, other than being friendly to a co-worker's spouse - which she will not be indefinitely; you do not "owe" her friendly support in the absence of an actual friendship you wish to have with her.
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Twik

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2013, 03:05:40 PM »
She wants to meet for lunch so she can convince you either that Paul is scum or that he should return to her.  She will then expect you to spend all your time at work explaining one or the other to him.  This is a ploy to get an 'agent' on the inside.

I agree with everyone else.  If this was your BFF of 30 years and you felt her medical issues were making her act irrationally, maybe you should engage.  As it is, she appears to be a co-worker's wife that you don't like.  I think you should avoid her like the plague.  People like this limpet onto a new victim when their old one escapes.  You don't want to end up a replacement for Paul

Pod this whole post, and particularly the bolded. Tiamet has, I think, hit the nail on the head.
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Slartibartfast

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2013, 03:14:45 PM »
Question: why do you want to not take sides?  It sounds like you already have, and you have a valid reason to do so!  The longer you profess to staying neutral, the more both sides (not just the couple, but everyone else who cares about the outcome) will try to change your mind.  I think a quick and decisive "Yes he was right to leave you; your crazy is showing every time you leave these rambling messages on my machine!" would reduce the amount of hookey you have to listen to every day.  Be the r3publican in Texas or the d3mocrat in Vermont; don't be the independent voter in Ohio!   :P

VorFemme

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Re: Don't Want to Take Sides, But I'm Siding With HIM (Divorce)
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2013, 03:35:56 PM »
Do not run away from her - she will just start chasing you down so you can LISTEN to her for just a minute........

Sidle away slowly, you don't have time to do lunch for the next few months, you'll have to get back to her when you DO have time...which will be never.

Don't JADE, don't engage the crazy, don't tell her that you don't want to be involved.  Tell her that this is something that you just aren't going to do, period.  You don't have time to get involved, goodbye.
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?