The other night, just before retiring to bed, I received a call from a dear friend, who I hadn’t spoken to in well over half a year. As her name flashed across the caller ID of my cell phone, I adjusted myself on the bed, propping myself up against two pillows, making sure I got real comfortable, in preparation for a possible long conversation ahead. Our conversations are always long when we have them, but this time, after the first few words and the measured silences in between, I knew that this wouldn’t be just one of our ordinary talks. There wasn’t going to be any “Girl, let me tell you(s)”…at least not yet. She had something to say that required more than a casual response or perfunctory comment, and she was going to make me listen! And listen, I did.
She told me that after much prayer and reflection, she thought that it would be a good time to share with me why the nature of our friendship had changed, and why we hadn’t spoken as often as we used to. “You mean there’s a reason beyond our lives just being full? Who knew?” I thought. So, to say that her explanation took me off-guard would be an understatement. She shared with me that she had been harboring feelings of anger and resentment toward me for my not being more available for her during the two most difficult periods in her life. Truly, I was taken by surprise because so much time had transpired since those events, yet this was the first time she was bringing it to my attention. Obviously, these feelings had been brewing for a while. Unbeknownst to me, there was no opportunity for me to acknowledge, let alone address them. Rather than dwelling on that, I listened to her very intently, and thought, how big of her it was to even share this with me, after all these years. She had no way of knowing what my reaction would be – denial, rejection, defense – yet she thought enough of our (real)ationship to call me and open up in this way.
I’m a firm believer that our emotions are personal, so who am I to contest them? If you say you felt cheated upon, betrayed or otherwise, those are your feelings and you’re entitled to them. Nothing I say or do is going to change that…such is the nature of our DNA. Often however, I believe that we make assumptions about one’s intent. It was never my intention to be dismissive or uninvolved, but my own life events at the time may have contributed to my limited involvement or what may have appeared as disengagement. My immersion into my life transitions very well could have clouded my judgment, and obscured my perception of anything outside my nucleus of activity. Throw in being newly married, starting a family, and relocation into the mix. I can clearly see and appreciate her perspective.
But this wasn’t about me. This was about her – her truth, and her moment to convey feelings that lied deep enough within her consciousness to result in the non-cultivation of our relationship. I was fully open and receptive to letting her tell it, and readily apologized and accepted full responsibility for how hurtful my behavior might have been. I was less interested in “explaining away” a defense and more interested in resuming relationship. I reveled in the unfolding because I knew that we could not move forward without it. Somewhere along the conversation, I had a series of epiphanies; one being how thankful I am for real friends – friends who think enough of the premise of our friendship to address uncomfortable truths and grow from there; another being the compelling desire to move on from our personal pain through the unveiling of our most deep-seated fears, anxieties, and limitations, in order that we may have authentic (real)ationship.
Despite being exhausted, I committed to being fully present, and hung on to every word. I cherished the richness of our dialogue, as we shared memories and insisted on the unbreakable sisterhood that always characterized our relationship. Needless to say, we talked well into the night, for almost an hour and a half! Not only did we catch up, but we left each other feeling lighter, yet remarkably more whole.
On an entirely unrelated note, I’d like to thank all of my subscribers and readers for helping me make it past my first 1,000 hits (mine don’t count )…and still counting! It may not seem like much, but it hasn’t been quite three months of blogging, so I’m well pleased! More importantly, I write to release, touch, inspire, and hopefully convey life’s meaning in a manner that will resonate with readers, whether 1 or 1,000. The lessons are still the same, and the urgency to share them just as great.
Thanks to commenters and non-commenters alike. There is never any pressure to comment, though I do relish a good dialogue. I always welcome the opportunity to break bread as we partake in this feast of Life together, so your questions, feedback, or general comments are much appreciated, and will never fall on deaf ears.
For your listening pleasure: “You’ve Got a Friend,” as sung by young Michael.