I had a very good friend all through high school. We spent nearly every day and most weekend events together. While she wasn’t my best friend, she was a very good friend and someone I cared very much about. We ran in the same friend group, and I really liked her as a person. Then, things changed.
The Friendship Ends
She went away to school, broke up with her boyfriend (who was still a friend of ours) and met someone new. We tried to maintain our friendship, but frankly her new boyfriend seemed like an arrogant jerk to me. Although I thought I covered my thoughts of him, maybe I didn’t. Perhaps there were other factors, such as the awkwardness of the break up. Whatever the case and circumstances, she broke off our communication and I never really knew the reasons why.
I wrote her a long letter telling her if I’d done anything I was sorry and how much I cared about her and our friendship and she never responded. I can take a hint, so I dropped it, but I was hurt. I was deeply hurt and couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t at least tell me what I’d done to merit being dropped as a friend without so much as a goodbye.
Looking on the other side of things, I realize there were other factors at play. An ex-boyfriend who still wanted her back, a new boyfriend who she wanted to please, and her propensity to be a people pleaser. Over the years, I would sometimes think about her when looking at old photos or eating somewhere we’d hung out as teens. I was still pretty mad at her. She’d gone against the girl code. She’d chosen a guy over one of her best friends.
Bumping into Her
A few more years passed and I heard she’d gotten married and had a couple of boys. I had two girls and one day was at Kings Island with my family. My husband bumped into her and brought her over, all excited (he forgets any bad thing anyone ever does to him or to me, which is probably a blessing). She stood in front of me and all I could think about was how angry I was at her. I was so mad, girls. I can’t even tell you how angry I was. I had always been a good friend to her. I didn’t deserve the way she’d treated me.
So, I did what us women can be so good at. I gave her that polite, but cold shoulder greeting. The hug that tells her you don’t really want to hug her. The questions that tell her you don’t really care. “Oh, are these your boys?”, “How have you been?” Women know exactly what you are doing when you treat them that way. It is a signal and they know it and so do you.
I was very cool but very polite, because a southern lady must be polite, right? Well, I am here to tell you that I was wrong and that I was about to learn a big life lesson about forgiveness.
I have always struggled with forgiveness. It’s hard for me. I will let a lot of little things go, but if you wound me deeply, I never forget it. It is definitely a weakness of mine and one I have worked on and am still working on. I suspect I will always struggle in this area.
More years went by and I thought to myself a couple of times that she’d deserved the cold shoulder I’d given her. I also felt if she really cared, she would have reached out after seeing how hurt I still was (like she was a mind reader, right?). I pushed away the memories of good times we’d had together, how easy she was to get along with, and what she’d been through that likely led her to cut us out of her life that way. I sort of smugly congratulated myself on being polite but letting her know what I thought of her.
Aren’t I nice a person? You see, I might have been polite on the outside, but inside I was having the ugliest, most hateful thoughts you could imagine.
A Big Lesson for Me
These days, there is a group on Facebook of alumni from high school. You can keep up with what people are doing, see pictures of their kids when you friend them. It’s a lot of fun, right?
It is until your husband tells you that person you so smugly gave the cold shoulder passed away. That the dear friend you shared your deepest secrets with, stayed up all night telling your future dreams, and who always had your back is gone. That she suffered and you never had a chance to even offer the least bit of comfort to her. There is no more chance to make it right. No chance to bump into her and greet her warmly and with love and kindness instead of that smug cold shoulder.
What I would give to go back to that day and throw my arms around her and tell her how glad I was to see her. To have spent a few more minutes talking to her and to have embraced forgiveness instead of bitterness.
Who are you holding a grudge against right now? Who has hurt you and you haven’t forgiven them? Is there someone you need to make things right with? Don’t wait until it’s too late.