While I was visiting my friend, she pulled out a huge shopping bag and started to stuff it with makeup, costume jewelry, clothes, accessories, and even expensive perfume. She did not ask if I wanted these things — just handed me the bag on my way out the door. Her generosity touched me, but I am not dressed in rags. My clothes fit me well and are clean with no rips, tears, or stains. I have a good purse I picked up for a song at a local thrift shop and good basic walking shoes. I do not wear makeup or color my hair because I am usually alone for days at a time except to run to the post office or grocery store. If I need to dress up, I can fuss and put on appropriate clothes.
I feel offended. In my whole life only two other well-meaning friends have gone so far as to purchase a blouse or top for me. A whole wardrobe — which, by the way, is not to my taste or in my size, plus all the bells and whistles, is a first-time experience. I do not understand why people would take it upon themselves to buy/give me clothes and think it would be a swell idea. It hurts my feelings, and the clothes are wasted because I never wear them, plus a resentment develops on my part. Since I saw her, I have received two more items in the mail from her that include a designer jacket for over $150 and a designer purse for over $75. I budget $25 a week for food for myself and eat a very healthy diet. For someone to think I would want or need a designer jacket that costs more than six weeks worth of what I would spend on groceries is ludicrous.
My friend is very smart, kind, and generous, but giving me stuff only makes me feel like I am lacking in her eyes. It makes me want to retreat from too much further contact. It makes me feel like I must look god-awful for someone to step into my life and shove clothes down my throat. I am comfortable with who I am, as I am, and these acts of generosity shake me up. I know she would die if she knew her gifts and generosity were hurting me, but I have no way of handling this situation that won’t take an emotional toll on me. — I Yam What I Yam
There are two things that I think maybe you could stand to have better perspective on. First, you say that you “suffer from chronic depression and have had to face a lot of challenges without support from a loving family or a support system,” and it is entirely possible that you’re friend is responding to THAT more than what you perceive is a response to your appearance. Maybe she picked up on the depression or you flat-out told her you suffer from depression and that, for most or all of your adult life, you’ve had little to no support. She is in a position of having material abundance and can share that with you as a way of showing you support. Her gifts to you are exactly that — a show of support — and not a show of intolerance or judgement about the way you look or live. Secondly, no, your friend will not “die” if she learns her gifts and generosity are hurting you! Of course, she’ll likely feel bad that she’s hurt you, but if she cares about you — and it sure sounds like she does, she would much more prefer the temporary embarrassment of learning she’s been hurting you over the longterm scenario of continuing to hurt you and continuing to waste money on things you don’t want.
You have to tell her to stop giving you these things you have no use for! Of course, you want to do this in the most tactful, face-saving way. I suggest this:
“There’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you and haven’t known exactly how to say it. First, I am so glad we’ve reconnected, and I really have enjoyed our calls and emails and texts and our recent visit. Your friendship and support have meant so much to me! And while I appreciate the gesture and the intention behind all the generous gifts you’ve given to me, I need you to know that I’m not wanting for material things. They simply don’t fit my lifestyle. I know you want to show you support me, and you already do that perfectly just by being a caring friend who stays in close touch. That is truly all I need or want from you — you, just you, are more than enough. And I hope that I, just as I am, am enough for you, too.”
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.