Hugs happen

Joey Garcia

Recently, my daughter went to a bar for a drink after work. A friend of hers jokingly gave her a big bear hug from behind. She heard something tear and something else pop. She left. The next day she had to go to an emergency clinic, where X-rays showed her back was out of place and blood vessels were torn near her sternum, causing blood to leak into her lungs. That friendly hug cost my daughter six days of work. Plus, she now owes a couple thousand dollars in medical bills. Her friend originally said he would pay her medical bills and wages but has since removed her name from his MySpace list and won’t reply to the messages she left on his cell phone. The people at the bar know him but won’t give my daughter his last name. How can we get people to take responsibility for what they do? I’m not rich but I’m covering her expenses the best I can. Any suggestions on where we go from here?

Yes: the road to forgiveness. What happened to your daughter is regrettable but not criminal. Her bear-hugging friend accidentally injured her. Imagine, for a moment, that you are his mother. How would you feel if your son planted his usual warm hug on someone only to discover days later that the embrace left her limp from pain? You might encourage him to send her a bouquet. You might urge him to contribute a hundred bucks or so toward her expenses, but you would not think him completely responsible for the entire bill.

Oh, I can hear you now: But it wasn’t her fault! Hey, the blame game is deadly. I can play, too: Does she have health insurance? If her job does not provide it, why wasn’t she responsible enough to pay for it herself? And this: Financial planners say working people must tuck six months’ salary away to bankroll emergencies. Doesn’t she have an emergency-savings account to get through this crisis?

Back in the day, if we didn’t know someone’s last name, where they lived or their baby’s mama, we called them an acquaintance. The term “friend” was reserved for those who deserved it: We liked each other, our actions showed we cared for each other, and we trusted each other enough to share of our hearts, our minds and whatever we owned. People we met in bars were drinking buddies (we knew ’em) or barflies (we didn’t). So, perhaps your daughter can see her injury as an opportunity to review her approach to friendship and finances.

Personally, I would drop the demand that the bear-hugger belly up his cash. In a perfect world he might pay half, but that’s not where we live. So be creative: Ask the bar (or the restaurant where she works), to hold a fund-raiser to cover your daughter’s bills. Then give me a call. I would love to attend if I’m free.

If I pressure my boyfriend, he admits that he loves me but cannot say it when I say it to him. He is 45 and has a history of relationship problems (including at work), but says we are closer than he’s ever been with anyone.

Perhaps he’s reserving those three-little words for himself. It is difficult to truly love another unless we love and accept ourselves. Someone with rocky personal relationships may not grasp that reality. Of course, it’s harder to get there if your partner is manipulating you to say what they want to hear. If you really loved him (and yourself) you would not be so needy.

Meditation of the week
A Rumi poem begins: “Out beyond the field of right-doing and
wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” If you didn’t commit to such black-and-white thinking about your problems, what field would you be in?

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