about three and a half years ago, i experienced the total breakdown of a friendship that had meant so much to me to that point. our lives were entwined, and our families spent a large amount of time together. there was a pretty tough spot, followed, about 6 months later, by a deeply, deeply painful complete falling-out. we both hurt each other in profound ways that seemed, at the time, unrecoverable.
well. at the time i didn’t think we had both hurt each other. at the time, i just thought she was hurting me. i couldn’t see past my own pain. i thought she was making things up in order to hurt me.
i missed the friendship, but was filled with so much pain over the whole thing, that all i could really experience was anger (a friend told me — unrelated to this — the other day, that her therapist wisely told her that anger is never a primary emotion. it’s always secondary. the primary emotions beneath it are usually pain or fear). the anger lasted, red-hot and consuming and full of accusation and assumption, for well over a year. i felt justified and betrayed and morally right.
then time passed. and after a while, all that was left was the absence of the friendship. the issues that had caused the instant implosion of the relationship were so long gone it seemed stupid to recap them in my mind or in my emotions. and i started to, occasionially, unspokenly, long for the friendship again. but i didn’t have the courage or humilty to pursue it. and i was fragile enough in my hurt that i couldn’t bear the risk of any attempt at reconcilliiation, or even contact.
so we didn’t have a single contact for 3 1/2 years. until two days ago.
the night before, i’d been with a few other people who knew this friend, and her name came up casually. one had run into her, and another had had email contact with her. the nudge from god was unmistakable. i even voiced it to those friends that night, that i had been thinking for a year about contacting her, but wasn’t sure i had the courage. i wasn’t sure i could risk not getting a response, or, even worse, getting a harsh response. but when the person who had had email contact with her sent me her address two days ago, i knew what i had to do. i stared at my computer screen for a long time with only her name as an opening to an email. then i walked through a description of how it had dawned on me that the assumptions i had been making about her didn’t align with what i knew about her character. and that had, after a bit more time, brought me to a place of realizing that her actions must have come from a place of deep hurt. and that allowed me, after a bit more time, to have sympathy for the hurt, which, in one way or another, i had caused. and that, after a bit more time, brought me to a place of missing our friendship.
i explained that i didn’t know if it was possible for us to connect in a meaningful way or not. i knew we would never see eye-to-eye on what happened, and there wouldn’t be any value, at this point, in diving into all that. but, i wondered, if we could try to re-engage the friendship in spite of that. i pushed send and took a very deep breath.
10 minutes later she called. i couldn’t even breathe to take the call for about 15 seconds. when i did, she said, “your email meant so much to me, and i have been feeling the same thing for about a year.” and before i knew it, we had plans for coffee the next day.
so yesterday, we met at starbucks. when i walked up, and she was sitting there, we were both visibly shaking — it was totally obvious to both of us that we were nervous. we hugged, and i told her i loved her, and she responded likewise. then we both breathed nervously, glanced around, and wandered into an awkward silence, effectively broken by her funny statement, “geez, i feel like i’m on a blind date!”
after an hour and fifty minutes of effortless talking, i glanced at my watch and realized i really had to get back to work. there hadn’t been a big “i forgive you,” or “will you forgive me?” either way. that wasn’t really the point. the point was that we valued each other, and our friendship, more than the undeniable nastiness that was real and had occurred and couldn’t either be directly addressed or swept under a rug.
near the end of our time, she said, “i don’t know how two people could have this conversation we’re having without god in it.” so true.