To speak, or not to speak is the question at hand. Not just the choice to reach out and speak to the person you fell out with, but the choice to talk over the issues or just leave them in the past if you do reach out. Honestly, I have tried both strategies with varying amounts of success. It really does depend on the other person.
I like to try to discuss the issues at bay. Although I find apologizing agonizingly difficult at times, I prefer to apologise and explain to the other party that I understood the role I played that contributed to the messy situation that eventuated. It is always nice too, to hear that they are also sorry and that they understood what went wrong and how you can both be better moving forwards.
The last thing anybody wants is history repeating itself, right. Of course, there has been situations, whereby in apologizing, the other party believed I was absolving them of any guilt or role in the fallout, and was prepared to take sole responsibility. In those situations I have had to decide, was it worth pushing the issue to let them know that while I wanted to do the best I could to be better this time that they needed to also try harder?
Sometimes pushing the issue turned into another argument, about who was right and assigning blame which is unhelpful for reconciliation and moving forwards. Other times the person has offered an apology, without an in depth conversation and I have decided that was enough, because dredging up the past just seemed painful and unnecessary.
Recently, in a friendship which is on its second take, (post reconciliation) a few things have popped up in conversation that have really made me question a few things about what actually happened between us on the first take. My friend and I decided not to discuss the past. Well, more so, she decided, in that she seemed reluctant and uninterested in rehashing things. I decided, after quite some time, that as we were getting along now, perhaps she was right and the past was behind us for a reason.
It’s not that I don’t respect or stand by that choice, it’s just that I question if I should bring it up now or not. It is certainly clear that our experience of the same event was not even remotely similar, and our understandings of what happened seem to be quite far apart. Maybe even opposite, if that is possible? On the one hand, what good will it do to discuss things that I can clearly see we are not going to agree on? On the other hand I am insanely curious to hear her version of events that seem so opposite to what I recall. Is perception fact or fiction? (It’s both!)
I wonder, if I ask her, can I sit and listen without becoming defensive, or having the need to correct her into believing my version of the story? Is my version just as inaccurate a perception to her, as hers seems to be to me? I suspect it is! Can we ever really uncover the truth? Does the truth exist, or is her version just as true as my own? Will we fall out all over again about it? Does it even matter? Should it?
How do I even begin to answer all those questions without speaking to the other party about it? The fact that it has been creeping into casual conversation also makes me question, does she want to talk about it? Is she finally ready? Am I?
I notice that while I was initially chomping at the proverbial bit to clear the air and have this conversation with her, the more invested I have become in our future, the less relevant the past has become. Perhaps, for her, the more she has learned to trust me again, the more willing she is to delve into it. Still every time it crops up I am surprised. Surprised not only at its mere mention, but surprised too at my reluctance to go there now, considering how different our version of events seem to be!
I find myself uncomfortably brushing it off, laughing it off, or changing the subject. I hope my friend doesn’t interpret this to mean our friendship isn’t important to me or that I don’t take it seriously, because really it is quite the opposite. I value her enough not to argue with her about things that no longer matter. Or at least things that shouldn’t matter. It has become clear that we are not going to agree on what actually happened between us all those years ago. Why bring it up?
What I can learn to do, is accept that her version of the story is every bit as real and valid to her as mine was to me. I was a story in her life, a story that she gets to tell through her own lens, and similarly she was a story in mine. How on earth those two stories can be so different at first glance seems peculiar, but the more I consider it, the more it makes sense. We all have our own sensitivities, triggers and hold strong memories based on those and our other values and experiences. We both remember the snippets that stood out to us, and validated that we were right to end it at the time. There really are 2 sides to every story!
I think if we talk about it, it is going to trigger me. I think it will trigger her too. And I think the investment we have made is more important than who was right or what was true years ago. I have to accept that her reality is valid, and not fight it, whether we have the conversation or not. While I wont be pushing the conversation, I am trying to stay open to it, with a playful and curious heart, and remind myself that none of it matters anymore, because we are both trying to be better. We have both grown and changed as people and our friendship has grown and changed too. It would be such a careless shame to re-infect us with the same old virus.
If you are reading this chicka, just know that I am glad we took a chance on another take, and I look forward to a day when we can replay the blooper reel and both laugh. Until then, maybe we can just agree to disagree, and keep smiling and discussing things we can agree on, because there are so many of those! We needn’t drown in that water under the bridge when we could simply walk across it.
Your Best Friend ForNever