When there occurs a misunderstanding big enough to end a friendship, your initial reaction could quite possibly be to blame the other party. As far as I can tell, this is perfectly normal human behavior. You’re hurt. You’re sad. You’re confused. But then you’re angry.
For me, anger jumps in to protect sadness. I suspect that’s a fairly common phenomenon.
Blaming begins because anger is irrational. Anger is trying to make sadness feel better, so it lashes out. Well, let me assure you, that lashing out benefits no one.
Anger can turn a situation that’s tricky, but possibly repairable, into a situation that there is no coming back from.
In my experience, no matter how close a friendship, there is a line of truth you simply cannot cross. And that’s when you know that particular truth will create a shift in the other person.
Of course, we all long to believe if our friendships are close enough…that if you’re so close you’re “friends as family” there is nothing that cannot pass between you.
I’m here to tell you, watch what you say. Because you can wound deeply without knowledge. You can wound deeply without intent.
I recently experienced this scenario. And truthfully, it’s just a big bag of suck.
In a half-assed attempt to explain one of my long and delicate thought processes, I wounded a friend.
Without intent, my words were hurtful.
I believe I wounded his pride.
Pride is a double edged sword, too much or not enough can sometimes kill you…or others…
Each of us became frustrated. Then reactive.
There was no being mindful in this conversation.
I know the words “behaving like a petulant child” were involved…
When the conversation ended abruptly, we retreated to our corners to lick our wounds.
I honestly don’t remember who reached out first to begin the rebuild.
But after that, in true Robynbird fashion, I wrote a long and emotional email in which I completely over-explained my point of view.
To say it went over like a lead Zeppelin is…well…the truth. I have a tendency to overthink and overtalk my thoughts and feelings…normally my friend can sort through my words to extract the important information. But not this time.
Apparently, I triggered a hot button in him and anger came back via email. Blaming and (possibly deliberately) hurtful words on the screen caused two simultaneous reactions in me.
My hackles went up and I felt compelled to argue point for point. (and) I knew in my gut it was time to break the cycle.
This may seem terribly dramatic, to talk about a friendship this way. But here’s the thing, it was a terribly dramatic friendship. When I say “terribly dramatic”, I mean it this way.
We became friends with a quickness out of the clear blue. Differences in gender, culture, generation, time, and distance held no meaning. We were as close as siblings. (Not the ones you grow up with, but the ones you get to choose in your adult life.) We talked each other through some seriously tricky situations, and loved without question. If you’re fortunate enough to have this kind of loving friendship with a person of the opposite gender, you’re blessed beyond belief. That other point of view is invaluable.
I sat with my dueling reactions for a while before I moved forward.
When I chose to act, I was mindful. I used “I statements”. I expressed my love and gratitude for everything our friendship gave me. I wished him well.
I send only love and light to him. I’m hopeful he’s doing the same for me.
Can our friendship be healed from the hurt caused by this misunderstanding and our ridiculous reactions?
I honestly don’t know.
I do know this:
I have sadness deep in my bones.
But I also have love.