The account you are about to read is true. The names are being withheld to — well — just because I think it would be best.
I have a longtime (some 50 years) friend who, it felt to me, seemed to be putting me on the back burner. This “putting me on the back burner” idea didn’t just pop into my head last week. It’s something I had been pondering literally for years. Unanswered emails. Curt replies to emails. An apparent lack of interest in discussing family matters. That kind of thing.
As I mulled all this over it seemed that a pattern was emerging to support the circumstantial evidence I was accumulating. In fact, I had become so convinced that our friendship was in jeopardy that I finally, after some prayer and additional thought, came to the conclusion that the time had come to put our cards on the table. If I was right about his estimation of our friendship, then we could just declare it over and move on. But if I was wrong, then sharing my feelings would give him a chance to explain himself.
So I sent an email.
I was surprised to get a reply so quickly. I was equally pleased that, after all those years, it turned out that my perceptions were way off base. He corrected my mis-perceptions (if there is such a word) and assured me that our friendship was still firmly intact.
It demonstrated for me, once again, that more times than not, we just need to be upfront about issues that nag at us rather than let them fester and simmer. I hesitated to bring this up with my friend for years in the belief that doing so could potentially cause our relationship to blow up, and I would be responsible for destroying something which, for more than half a century, has been very special. Maybe my friend was ready to let things cool off, but I wasn’t, and I didn’t want to be the one responsible for ending it.
However, by bringing up my questions, I was actually opening the door to a kind of reconciliation (although reconciliation wasn’t necessary since the only “problems” turned out to be in my own head). Maybe it was more of a clarification than a reconciliation, or maybe thru clarification, I was able to reconcile things in my own mind. Regardless of the process, the end result was a reassuring understanding that I had been misinterpreting the “evidence.” And for that, I’m delighted.
I guess the point of sharing this story is to say that there are times when we have to face our hesitations head on when they involve other people and just ask the hard questions. Sure, the risk of hurt is there. But so is the possibility of relief and reassurance.
My friend and I should be good for another 50 years.