Question: Dear Luise: How can a damaged friendship be repaired? I had a really severe disagreement with a friend of over twenty years. We both wrote, (it was an email battle), harsh things to each other. Neither of us lived up to the other’s expectation or probably what we expected of ourselves. I miss her in my life, even though I still feel bad. My guess is that she still feels bad, too. Would it be best to let it go or try again? Thanks for your help. Kylie
Answer: Dear Kylie: This is a very hard thing to do after you have made the basic error of participating in a written altercation. I hope you have learned that they don’t work. You can’t “read” the other person and they can’t “read” you. Confrontational monologues are usually interpreted as abusive and set off chain reactions that accelerate and destroy…unless…you are very fast on your feet. By that I mean, you stop the initial hit in mid air and ask for a meeting.
Of course sometimes one-on-one discussions are just more of the same, but at least there’s a chance that you may get past accusation to some level of understanding by listening and sharing.
I’d suggest a time for cooling off. You will know in your gut when you are ready to contact your friend and what you feel safe asking for. It’s wise not to ask for much. If and when you get a response, see how that feels as well. You may see a glimmer of hope or you may find it too guarded to be real.
There are many ways to look at such a set of circumstances. If you fail to rekindle the kind of connection you once had, consider the possibility that you may have misjudged the depth of the friendship. It is easy to give lip service while staying on the surface and playing it safe, even for twenty years. The proof of depth in any relationship lies in how durable it is in conflict, it seems to me. Disagreements are part of life.
We all have many kinds of friendships. Yours with her is in flux. It takes two people to heal it. When you’re ready, make an effort and see what happens. If she holds you at arms length, you simply can’t repair it alone. If she responds, but just throws you a bone, decide if that’s what you want. Blessings, Luise