A few years ago, while visiting the exquisite island of Lana’i and staying at the glorious Lodge at Koele (see more of the Lodge here), my friend Beverlee and I went out for a stroll in the glorious gardens. It was drizzling, so I handed her my umbrella, and as we reached the gazebo by the pond, I thought it would be fun to take a few photos. She started playing with the umbrella, and I clicked away. The contrast of the red on the overcast day was perfect.
Later, in post production, after the basic editing, I played a little in Photoshop, something I hardly ever do anymore, as I prefer to just pop my images and leave them uncomplicated. Except I really liked the almost b&w version that resulted on the image above. And even after a few years, I still do. I titled the image Lady of the Lake, even if there is no young fashion model in the image, but a grandmother. Below is the color version, as well as a couple of other shots from the set.
The trouble with going back to look at older photos is that I end up re-editing, as I work differently now. Most of the photographers I know know exactly what I am talking about.
The rest of the story behind these photos is bittersweet. Beverlee and I are still friends at heart, but I have had to cut my connection with her a few years ago already. She is a very kind and sweet woman, but over the years, as the friendship deepened, she revealed a very needy and high maintenance side of her that she had somehow managed to keep hidden. It had gotten to the point that I would dread sending her an e-mail because I would not know if anything I had written would trigger a passive/aggressive episode in her response. I would hit send and hold my breath until her reply came. And her replies were increasingly booby-trapped. I found myself tip-toeing around her both via e-mail and in person, or over the phone, something that ended up stressing and draining me. It was a difficult decision, but I had to let her go.
On my end, I had to take responsibility of the fact that I had attracted yet another needy and passive-aggressive person into my life, just like the two men I had married and divorced. This used to be a pattern of mine, and she had shown up before I had recognized and owned this. Now, when this kind of people appear on the horizon – and they still do occasionally – I figure them out instantly and do not engage. I am a giver, and they are takers, whether they realize it or not. Beverlee did/does not act that way with malicious intent, she just responds to an inner need that is desperately strong and unacknowledged. For some time I tried to nudge her and gently show her this, but that is when the verbal e-mail “attacks” would intensify.
I still love her, and I miss her, but I had to take care of me, and could no longer allow her (or anyone) to drain me. I saw her once more, while I still lived in Honolulu. She was visiting and we met for lunch. All was well for a while, until she relaxed and slipped back into her usual pattern. So I just enjoyed the lunch, hugged her and said goodbye.
I have not gone into details, because those are personal to her and should remain so. However, I am sharing this side of the story because I know I am not the only one who has had to “restructure” a relationship with a beloved friend, partner, or family member. I have had to accept several years ago that there are people that we can love, but it is too destructive for us to remain connected to them – or, in case of family members, continue to live together or in close proximity. We cannot change, nor save them, as they can only change and save themselves, if they choose to. All we can do is take good care of ourselves, keep the love, and unplug.
Do you have, or have you had situations like this in your life?
Other posts in the Behind The Photo series:
And here is the piece about the exquisite Lodge at Koele: