Answering prompt number 1 gives me an opportunity to look back on a time when a good friendship was fractured, to ask why the heck that happened, and to enthuse about how much happier we both are now that all of that is behind us (except when it is being resurrected in a blog, I suppose……..)
Not everyone “gets” my humor. “J” did, immediately, and served it back to me. We were working on a project together at the State Department of Education. The people were great, the project was worthwhile, and friendship blossomed rapidly. We all worked together to produce a fantastic teleconference (back in the day when you had to have “I-Spy-like” coordinates to tell people how to talk to each other via satellite). The speed with which she and I bonded was second only to the speed with which entire sleeves of Thin Mint cookies seemed to go AWOL when either of us was around.
Then, somewhat abruptly, things got weird. There was a bit of a shift in the org chart, changing our positions slightly. There was a ……..
….looking back on it I can’t articulate how and why we went from “thick as thieves” to “not speaking.” Several months of this went by, months when it was pretty challenging to be in such close physical proximity while our attitudes toward each other were inifinitely distant.
It takes a whole lot of energy, and I don’t mean happy, “walking on sunshine” energy. I mean negative, “everyone around me ought to wallow down here in the angry ditch with me” energy to maintain this kind of personal freezeout.
I can still picture in my mind where I was (in my old little green duplex watching Seinfeld) when I called her. We chatted, did a little work on trying to figure out how we had gone from scarfing thin mints together to avoiding eye contact and putting up walls. Things were better for the next few months. Eventually, she moved away from Florida and I moved to a new job.
Enter Facebook, that intrepid facilitator of reunions.
She and I got reconnected via Facebook, and have had a fabulous time getting reacquainted, sharing thin mint reminiscences, and supporting each other. On days when no one else comments on my blog, I know I can almost always count on her chiming in. That is a priceless act of support.
What is the takeaway from this experience? For me, every single time I hear someone start a conversation that is essentially structured like this: “I haven’t spoken to [name] in three weeks, ever since (s)he [list minor infraction/perceived inequity/etc. here]. The ball’s in their court. They’ve gotta go first” I think to myself “you have started yourself on a death spiral – the more you pull your physical and emotional energy inward, the faster you will continue to descend as opposed to ascend.” Many of these situations start out so minor, and we deprive ourselves of some very satisfying friendship time (not to mention annoying the people around us who are often caught in the middle) when we lack the courage to go ahead and address things early.
In October, J and I had a chance to meet up when she came to Tallahassee for a football game. We had a great visit over breakfast. The only thing missing was the thin mints.