Thursday, March 26, 2015

On friendship and (more) healing.

I've come to the realization that, just because I know something intellectually, does not mean I know it emotionally. A fair number of people told me "you have to just let this go" and "these things just happen." Easy to say, not so easy in practice, when it's your it's your heart that hurts.

Also, I've learned that just because I think I've concluded a healing process, I probably haven't. And somehow I'm always surprised when another missing piece of the equation pops neatly into place.

I wasn't coming out of as dark a place as the last time this subject surfaced, but for the past couple of months, a similar tune kept presenting itself to me, in various places and voices. I would read and mm-hmm, then click the little x to close the tab and move along to something else. 

All these bits and pieces simmered quietly in the background of my brain, as my thoughts are wont to do, shifting around, trying to fit here, rearranging and trying somewhere else, like some amalgamation of a mental Rubik's cube and a game of Tetris. Over and over, the thoughts tumbled, in some unconscious corner of my mind, until I read a blog post on Tuesday and click!, the picture came clear.

Liz was writing about something a friend told her once. (If you don't read Liz's blog -- Can't Never Could -- I highly recommend. Her writing speaks to me.) Her friend told her: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.” (Seriously, read her post, the one that I first linked to in this paragraph, because if this basic lesson doesn't apply to your life right now, it either has in the past or it's going to at some point, unless you never have any sort of relationship with anyone, ever.)

Back to what her friend told her: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.”

Have you ever held your breath for as long as you're able? Eyes starting to bugle? Head getting a little goofy? You know that first big gulp of oxygen? That. I read that sentence in that blog post, and it was like that first big gulp of oxygen, that missing piece I didn't know was the next part of the getting-over-it process. One by one, these jumbled thoughts and quotes that I'd mulled, both intentionally and subconsciously, glittered with an astonishing clarity. Angel choirs sang and light bulbs glowed and crowds roared with applause.

I thought about the quote I found on Goodreads:
"Introverts treasure the close relationships they have stretched so much to make." ("Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture," Adam S. McHugh)

And I realized why *I* had been so deeply injured. It's work for me to let new people into my inner circle, so to be rejected so unceremoniously, so abruptly, in essence, yanked a treasure out of my hands that I had spent so much of myself on grasping. It made me feel worthless. But: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.” Someone else's actions, no matter how they affected me, weren't about *me* or my worth. It was someone else's fear of something to which I was not permitted access, but, as Liz later writes, "We all see life through our own very special filter. And that filter is skewed. That filter is made up of hurts and joys unique only to us."


And then there was the quote I read in a blog post:
The hardest breakup of my life was with a friend. (Annie Downs)

And I realized why *I* had been so deeply injured. You see, I think we realize that romantic breakups will happen. After all, we are all only supposed to have one romantic relationship at a time and so most of those relationships aren't designed to last. But friendships? We can have as many of those as we are individually pre-programmed to carry. Therefore, we don't *expect* them to end. I can't speak for you, but I've had my share of romantic breakups, and none of them were all that pleasant, but this whole friendship breakup knocked me square on my backside. It hurt in a way no former boyfriend had ever caused. *Ever*. And I'm sad to say that there were a good number of people who passed judgment on this particular breakup. Assumptions were made, but I can say for certain, very few people actually asked *me* what was going on. But this? Wasn't about me either. I didn't initiate it. I can't speak for the hows and whys and whens. But just because there were skewed filters here, in disguise as judgments and assumptions, didn't make them true.


And *then*, there was a portion of one of my daily devotional readings:
I wonder how many of you have walked through betrayal. It is awful. You’re powerless to stop the pain and you keep wishing in vain that it could somehow be a different story.

And I realized why *I* had been so deeply injured. I didn't want this story. I didn't want this outcome. I didn't want this breakup. I didn't want to feel this hurt. Because I had tried everything in my power to prevent it, to mend it, to redirect it. But you've got it: this was also not about me. I *didn't* ask for any of this. It was the unique filter of another human being and there's a story there, but it isn't mine to know, or to tell, even if I did.

It's all slowly coming into focus.

And finally, I read another piece of writing, where Ali Martell, shares about her own friendship breakup:
She saw things one way, which incidentally was full of inaccuracies and things she had decided were true. And I saw things one way, which, at the time, I felt was the right way to see things.

And when it wound itself in and around Liz's words, something in me said "yes, YES!" We see things through our own unique lenses, crafted out the the experiences we've had and the lessons we've learned. In fact, this very situation has likely tweaked my own filters in some way or another, because that's the way of it. But at the end of it all, how someone else sees things, and whatever inaccuracies that includes, it isn't about me. It isn't about the way I see things or how they came to see things differently than I do. What they decide to be true and how they decide to react to those truths is about them.

And suddenly, I breathed. I felt free of those weighty questions and the internalizing and the "what did I do?" of it all, because: “Nine times out of ten, when people get upset at you, it’s a lot more about them than you.”

Funny thing, last night, I was sitting in church, because it's Lent and that means a Wednesday evening service full of contemplation and introspection (sounds grim, maybe to some, but I actually look forward to it). At the end of the message was this thought: Don't be hardened because grace is extended and not returned, or worse, outright rejected. Simply offer grace without expectation. 

As I sat in the pew, with the sunset casting glowing colors on the walls before me as the light flooded through stained glass windows at my back, I thought: That's what I want for *my* story, to extend grace, even when it's ignored, even when it's absorbed without acknowledgment, even when it reaches out into a vacuum, and even when it's thrown back at me. I want to feel glowing and light and filled with pure, rich oxygen. That's what I want to be about me. That's how I want my filter to be tweaked by this event in my life.

Today, I feel a little more whole.

4 with their own thoughts:

Fidgeting Gidget Thursday, March 26, 2015 8:36:00 PM  

Oh, girl...I feel you. So crazy how we have never met in person, but we are on the same wavelength with certain things. I went through a major one of these back when I blogged, and that's still unresolved, and it haunts me. I'm going through it again with a dear, dear, friend, and I *know* it's because of issues in her life, but I still can't accept it, because I feel like I screwed up...she used to trust me to help her through issues, now she turns her back. It's not about us, it's about them, but it doesn't make it hurt any less. Now excuse me while I quote your post I a tweet....hahaha subtweets that I know she will see sometimes make me feel better, as petty as that seems.

~**Dawn**~ Thursday, March 26, 2015 8:56:00 PM  

FG: I know exactly what you mean. It's so complicated! It's hard when someone else's issues directly impact you. Even though it's not about you, you still feel all the feelings anyway. I've realized I still don't know what the answer to all this is. I know this though: If I ever get the opportunity to meet you, I'm taking it! =)

Fidgeting Gidget Thursday, March 26, 2015 9:09:00 PM  

I WILL bring my Tessa to Disney, with or without my husband (he blatantly goes against the Disney franchise bc it's expensive, says he'll never go, but he's never been, so he can't judge or possibly know how awesome it is...and my mission is to make my daughter's first sentence be, "Daddy, take me to Disney World,") but with or without him, I'm coming, and you'll be the perfect tour guide.

~**Dawn**~ Thursday, March 26, 2015 9:18:00 PM  

I'll tell you right now, barring anything outside my power, I am *in*!

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