I’ve had a hard time recently (yes, I’m being very honest here, be nice to me, okay?). Something came up, an issue, a problem, with someone I loved dearly, and trusted. A close friend. It may have been a small thing, but it hurt me unimaginably, left me with those deep feelings of wanting to lash out, wanting to hurt back. Spite. I’m not a spiteful person; I’m not a vindictive person at all, and the fact that I was feeling such feelings scared me.
It felt like I was in grade four again, this stupid attitude of “he sat next to her and not me”, or “she promised me that I could come to her sleepover, and then she invited somebody else instead!” Dumb stuff. Kid stuff. I’m a mature adult, and I earned that maturity through a lot of dumb mistakes I’ll not make again.
In other words, I Know Better.
I do! I know that love is a choice not a feeling. I know that life goes in seasons. I know that hearts mend, that people grow and change, that sometimes stuff is hard. This knowledge hasn’t stopped me wanting to lash out though, to take my hurt to Facebook and wail about it.
I haven’t. And I WON’T. The problem is mine, not my friend’s, and doing anything like that would only make it worse (okay, MUCH worse), and I’d regret it. And I know I won’t always feel this way. Heck, by the time I post this I may not even feel this way any more.
What I did do, though, was this:
I talked to people, in person. I chose trusted friends, people who weren’t connected to my friend or the situation; people I knew who loved me and who could listen to me without judging and without condemning me or telling me I sound like a ten year old. People who could just listen. It helped. A lot.
You know, one of the big things I realised from it was this: much as it’s hurt, and much as it’s made me wonder why I ever bothered getting close to people in the first place if this is how it’s going to wound me, it’s precisely because I chose to get close to people, to allow them into my world, that I’ve got access to the friends who listened and cared when I needed them. I spent years, because of experiences like the one I’ve had with my friend recently, keeping people at a distance so I wouldn’t get hurt. It was lonely. I ached with it. It took me years to allow myself to get close to people, and then when I did…
…and then when I did allow myself to get close to people and I got hurt, there were others there, a whole network of people who could offer me a hand, an ear, some grace, while I got myself up again.
I still love my estranged(ish) friend dearly. Hello, estranged(ish) friend, wherever you are. And, no matter the stupid feelings I’ve been going through of late, that once-upon-a-time long-ago decision to love people, to allow myself to get close to people again, was worth it.
It’s still worth it. Even if it means, for a little while, disconnecting myself some from places I’d see them and giving myself a serious kick up the backside from time to time. So long as I take care of myself, so long as I don’t do anything stupid that I’m going to regret, then allowing myself to get close, allowing my heart to be vulnerable enough to get a little broken, it’s still worth it.
Remind me of that tomorrow, when I go through this same stinking emotional roller coaster again, okay?
Friendship is always worth it. Complicated yes. But worth it!
Well. This is a top contender for the best bit of writing, and most soul-searingly honest witnessing I’ve ever seen.
Because of past experiences, it took me a long, long time to begin to learn to trust civilians. Going through a kill-or-die crucible does change one.
The upside is a sort of invulnerability born of overweening pride – they haven’t walked my path, so they can’t hurt me. What they think or say – doesn’t matter.
But that way also lies the most profound isolation, when you begin to realize that eventually you’ll run out of enemies who want to kill you. The ‘normal’ world beckons, and you haven’;t a clue how to be a friend.
Blood brother, yes…everyone who goes in, comes home, or no one does. That sort of ethos comes naturally.
But it doesn’t have a place at a church social, or bowling league, or lunch with my wife’s friends.
I weep for your hurt – but I envy your openness and vulnerability.
Wow Andrew! First of all thanks for your vote for this as the best bit of writing you’ve seen! And…man. Oh man.
I’ve never been a soldier, so I can only begin to imagine the trauma, or the difficulty in readjusting to life on the other side. I have, however, had my fair share of experience with PTSD, and your comment “The upside is a sort of invulnerability born of overweening pride – they haven’t walked my path, so they can’t hurt me. What they think or say – doesn’t matter.”, and the isolation that follows, that I DO understand.
It’s a funny old journey, getting used to people, learning how to be a friend, learning how to have them. Here’s to keeping on trying.
As always, I’m so glad I stopped by. I’m hooked by your openness and vulnerability. You’re a magnet of love and acceptance. Thanks for reminding me to stay open, open, open.
Thanks Patti, I’m glad you stopped by too. Funny, a few years ago telling me I was being open and vulnerable online would have seen me running for the back door, but I’ve learned the fine art of being open and honest and still saying nothing at all. I’m glad for it. Sometimes I feel like my role in life is standing up and being honest about stuff we all go through and often don’t talk about. Lucky me, hey? 🙂
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I can totally relate, I’ve been in the same space of feelings and I know how disappointing and deep the hurt can go. Kudos to you for how you’ve handled it, it’s not only the best way to handle it but the best way to prevent yourself from having regrets. When I had that kind of experience (I’m not going to lie, it’s been more than once I found it was an indication that I needed to strengthen my boundaries and a lesson to listen to my instincts. Most every time my instinct guided me correctly and most every time I thought I knew better, turns out I didn’t. Some lessons are harder than others. Great post Megan!
Thanks so much Shelley.
It’s a funny old thing. I’m glad I wrote about it, because from what I hear it does happen to pretty much all of us at some time, yet it’s not something talked about much. First time it happened to me I was a teenager, and I let it define me for a lot of years (so glad not to be a teenager any more). Yup, all about strengthening those boundaries.
Thanks for stopping by.