A good friend of mine invited me to her husband's surprise birthday party recently. This friend (we'll call her Mona) and I worked together 5-7 years ago. We became friends, and we both agreed that it wasn't the greatest place to work. Mona was also aware that the sales manager, the office manager and the "#1 salesperson" created a lot of office-politics drama in the workplace. And a good deal of it affected me personally. These three went out of their way to make sure I wouldn't be considered for promotions, even though I was totally qualified. They'd run to the general manager and say either that I wasn't doing my job properly or, in the case of the #1 salesperson, that I shouldn't be promoted because then who would type her proposals for her? Needless to say, I didn't play their office-politics games, and they made my job unbearable.
Mona and I eventually left that place, and we've stayed great friends. However, she also remained friends with the now-former sales manager, former office manager and former #1 salesperson. Soon after I left, Mona and I were talking about our former colleagues, and I started getting pissed - so much so that I asked Mona if we could never talk about those three again. I also asked that, if they ever brought up my name in a conversation or wondered what I was doing, she not mention she'd kept in touch with me. As far as I'm concerned, the time I've already spent with those three people was enough. I told Mona I didn't care if she remained friends with them, because no one should dictate whom their friends should be friends with. But if she wanted to be friends with me, I told her, she needed to respect my wishes. She agreed to do that. This was five years ago.
Now, I find out through a mutual friend of ours that the former sales manager and the former office manager are both going to be at this surprise party. (Between you and me, they'd attend anything with free booze!) Again, Mona and I are great friends, and her husband likes me very much. I want to attend the party, because I don't have that many opportunities to see Mona and her husband, and I'd like to catch up on what's been happening with them. But I can't stomach the idea of being in the same room with two people who really went out of their way to make my job hell.
What do you think?
Party Pooper: What do I think? I think you need to get over it. Or under it. Or through it. But what you seem to want to do, instead, is get around it. And asking Mona to never mention these people to you or mention you to these people is trying to get around it rather than working your way through it. I can understand why you might not want to socialize with them. Hey, it's not like I've never worked in an office before. (And come to think of it, I've never been considered for a promotion.) But I would wish for you enough personal growth, enough spiritual fulfillment, enough good old-fashioned therapy that you could attend this party, catch up with Mona and her husband, even exchange a few words with your former coworkers, and come out the other side not just unscathed but refreshed. Living well is truly the best revenge, so grin and bear it. And if that doesn't do the trick, spill a drink on them.
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