I recently had that experience with a friend. we were living in a country where she does not speak the language and I barely do. These odd things kept happening. She would say she wanted to get the groceries this time, walk up to the payment point then stop dead, and wait, it seemed, for me to take care of things. I usually did. The owner of the property we were renting kept coming to me saying she hadn’t paid her rent. I knew she had the funds because we had just been to the bank together a few days before and I had observed her taking out the cash. You get the point. The behaviours didn’t add up.
On quiet, calm, observation, I realized that she was panicked because of not understanding the local language, and she was beginning to experience short-term memory loss and a bit of loss of hearing. She literally didn’t hear many things, or could not remember them. It was physiological, not a lapse in manners or judgement.
I wish my friend had been honest with me sooner. I wish she had felt safe to be so. When I finally asked her about it, questions being highly useful, as you mention, she admitted these things through tears.
The tears could have been unnecessary. Once things were cleared up, I asked her how we could proceed in a way that was more comfortable. In other words, I had a way to help.
When we don’t ask, no one tells.
Thank you for a well written piece.