Question: Dear Luise: I just got an email from a friend accusing me of doing something at her home without her permission, when I clearly recall being told it was OK. She tried to put it nicely, but it didn’t feel nice to me at all. I don’t know where to go with this. It seems to me that she is patting herself on the back for attacking me. Like it’s a sign that she is learning and growing. It feels as though I don’t exist. She never asked me what I based my behavior on. I feel deeply hurt and very angry. Every email I write back and don’t send is full of my reactions and feels like we are at war. I feel devastated and completely at a loss as to how to proceed. Can you think of anything that would help me? Thank you so much. Linda D.
Answer: Dear Linda: First let me compliment you all over the place for taking a deep breath, stepping back, letting yourself feel all of your reactive emotions and doing nothing. Very, very wise!
Continue to write your unsent responses. I would just suggest that you use your word processing program for that. Many an email has gone out by mistake. It’s just too easy to hit “send” out of habit. As you write you will be venting and processing your reactions, and you will eventually see a change in the amount of energy you have on this situation.
When you feel more centered and balanced, send her an email and ask for a meeting. Face to face is the best way to reach resolution without further misunderstanding. Emails are monologues without benefit of eye contact, body language or voice intonation. Set the meeting up away from both of your homes, and not around others. Maybe in a park where you can sit at a picnic table and talk.
When you get together, tell her that you are willing to listen to her restate her complaint and to add anything she wants to…and that you will not interrupt. At the same time, tell her that you insist that you be given the same courtesy, after she is done. Then, listen to her. Get into her head and see it from where she is coming from. When she is done, do your thing.
Both of you have to agree that the “no interruptions rule” be strictly adhered to before you begin.
When that is complete, see if there was a misunderstanding or an act that requires an apology. Give it your best shot. You wouldn’t have written to me about this unless the friendship was important to you. Blessings, Luise