Sometimes, love and time and patience are really the answer. Yesterday, I regained a long-lost friend. A long time ago there was a fight, there were differing expectations and agreements…he said some harsh things, I tried using bullet points and logic and nonviolent communication to no effect, and then I, too, ultimately said some harsh things when I was hurt enough.
I had apologized for my part in the things that led to the original argument and he wouldn’t accept that apology. I had left the door open for healing, I had said that I hoped we could be friends again sometime, and after that, he would not speak to me.
Healing a friendship isn’t really possible when the “I’m not speaking to you” card gets thrown down. However, I also realized that my friend processes emotions in a really different way than I do, and much as it burned, I realized there was *nothing* that I could do, but wait and hope for him to some day release some of his anger. That’s all I could hope for.
Yesterday he contacted me to say he was sorry. There was a lot of talking, a lot of me finally understanding what had pissed him off so badly, and why he had gotten so triggered. And nothing was going to speed that process up. No logic, no communication techniques, nothing. Nothing but time and healing and clarity.
He had hesitated to contact me because he thought he’d screwed up our friendship forever, but he finally took that big risk to tell me he was sorry. For my part, I was willing to forgive and move on, I just needed to understand what happened. Why he had gotten so angry. And a few other things.
I had written this relationship off. I had thought that no healing was possible, and that we’d never be friends again. I had thought, once someone goes over that edge into saying the really illogical, bat-shit crazy stuff, once someone starts hurling insults, there’s really no going back. They will always be that angry, they will always be that irrational.
But yeah…sometimes, people with big emotions need time to calm down. Sometimes people who have been massively triggered need more time to come down out of non-logical space.
I realized yesterday that I really have taken a big drink of the “Love can conquer all” kool-aid. A different me, a more angry me, would have stewed and been angry and refused to speak to him, refused to forgive him.
For me, there is a big difference between forgiveness and re-entry into the pattern that led to the problem in the first place. What I mean is, if someone apologizes for being a jerk and asks forgiveness, in most cases I can offer that. If I have some understanding and compassion for where they were at, I can offer that forgiveness. It doesn’t mean I’m going to let myself go back into the original friendship or relationship that led to the angry fight in the first place. If I’m reconnecting to a friend, there might be more distance. There might need to be more transparent agreements and boundaries, and that’s a healthy thing.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean it’s all ok and we can pretend it never happened. It means, we need to be aware that that conflict happened and why, so that we don’t engage in that downward spiral again.
I guess I really do fundamentally believe that love and compassion can lead to healing almost anything. I’m glad to see it unfolding. It’s not to say love is easy, and that it always works, but when it does, when healing happens…it’s pretty cool.
It gives me faith in humanity again.