I recently had my first fight with a close friend. Well, fight may be the wrong word. This person was upset with me, no doubt, but we did not fight in the traditional way. Thanks to the advents of technology, this was a battle of words via text messages. It was weird not actually having a conversation about it, but I can understand why people do it. It is a lot easier to say what you really think when you do not have to look the person in the eyes when you say it. And some very hurtful things were said. But the worst part, for me anyway, was the waiting. At first, the responses were coming fast and angry, and then nothing…for two days. Next to the labor of my son, it was the longest two days of my life. “Why didn’t you just reach out to your friend?” you may be asking yourself. The reasons are two-fold. One of the first texts I received was as much an ultimatum as any: Either we are friends or we are not. And the last text I sent left that decision in another’s hands. And so I waited. And waited. And waited some more until I took the long silence to be my hint. That there was no interest in continuing our friendship. And then I cried.
So imagine my surprise when an hour or so into my Monday I received an email. I looked at my inbox list, the bold print of the subject line staring back at me, and couldn’t read it. Five minutes passed and I managed to read the first sentence and then closed Outlook. After another five minutes I opened it, read the last sentence, closed it. Another ten minutes, I read the first paragraph and got up and walked away from my desk. 45 minutes after I received it, I was finally able to read it in its entirety. It was not a pleasant email, but it was contact nonetheless, this latter fact I had to remember. This was an effort at trying to understand my actions.
Now what do I write back? Do I rattle off a litany of excuses and rationalizations? Every single one of which could be shot down and rebuked? Or do I just wave my white flag? I have found in many a circumstance that the first thing I want to do in an argument is hurl insults. And that instinct was just as sharp as ever in the first draft I wrote. But after a few re-reads, I realized I didn’t mean half the things I had written. Crtl+A and delete. After a few attempts, all I could say was, I can’t take it back and I am sorry. But I, too, was hurt by instances of inaction and unresponsiveness, when I needed my friend the most. And if I was going ever going to voice that, what better time than the present?
So in two quick emails filled with the written word, we both conceded that we made mistakes. I am still amazed at how my relationships with others are in direct correlation with how I carry myself. Not that other people “make me happy/sad”, that is something that I control. But when the people I care about most, the ones I hold closest to my heart, when they are upset with me or I with them, it throws off the balance of my world. And if there is nothing to reset my equilibrium, much time is needed to fill those holes.
And as for my friend and me (and yes, ‘me’ is grammatically correct as it is the object of a prepositional phrase), all will be well with us. Provided we understand the words we say carry as much weight as the words we do not.