In the box much?
Updated: Jul 22
A few years back, I had the not so rare misfortune of disappointing a close friend of mine. And not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about how to fix it, or find the courage to just let it go. Do I call him? Do I write him a letter? Do I just drive over and see if we can't put it behind us? Out of the remnants of respect I have left for him, I haven't done any of those things. It seems to be my lot in life... the slip into which my boat is docked. I've lost a little sleep over it, I'll admit it. We have known each other nearly 35 years, and honestly I can't imagine the next 35 without him in it even though we don't see from the same lenses all the time. In that time, we've both been able to share laughter and tears. We've gone skiing, ridden bikes, written and played music, all fast and loud, a reflection on both of our lives. No matter what came our way, or why, we were able to rub dirt on it, and get back on the throttle. You don't know someone that long without them being deeply embedded into what makes you tick. We've also given each other plenty of room to grow.
In this particular case, he was pretty hot about something I did that he perceived as disrespectful, and it's long been my assessment that he overreacted. I didn't see my actions as having anything to do with him in the first place. I could respect his viewpoint, but reserved the right to disagree. I'm over 50 years old. I am not in the habit of asking permission to make good on promises. And I don't need a bi-annual come to Jesus meeting to find out for which trespasses I need forgiven.
You can't possibly agree with everyone on every issue. That doesn't mean we don't care about someone or that we "have it in for them." I did nothing that would physically harm him. I didn't intentionally sabotage steal anything, nor did I lie about it. I had no malice in my heart whatsoever. I suppose it's just one of those crossroads at which one arrives. It didn't even cross my mind that it would affect him this way. We were simply outta tune, more dissonant than normal. One cannot demand respect without giving it. Most of us do our best work when our blood pressure is at normal operational parameters. There was no "agree to disagree". This is where it really went South.
Did you ever get into an argument with a friend or lover where the entire history of wrongdoings gets dumped on the table as if in search for rubble amidst all the diamonds? Constantly rehashing the negative is like firing the same bullet over and over again, and after so many wonderful years, that bullet is pretty ugly. I had let the conversation amass to a point where he was so in the box I almost found it comical. But there was nothing funny about it. It was sad. I had disappointed him to the point where he thought it would be better to terminate our friendship than to say his peace and leave it at that.
I can't say that I'm not equally disappointed in the way it was carelessly handled, but I know that my life runs more smoothly without the drama, and I'll do whatever it takes to minimize it. Even still, when I left the scene of the crime, I said very clearly, "I'm sorry." And all I heard were horrible insults and that he was "done."
I had an epiphany not long after the incident. The way we think our lives are going to go, isn't necessarily the way it goes. Sure we can hope for the best, but it makes sense to plan for the worst.
I have no idea what comes next, but I know that I'm strong, of sound heart and mind, and I will be alright no matter what comes next.
And my friends, sometimes you can't make the other person see your viewpoint, no matter what you say or do. It's my recommendation that you move on past it for your own sanity. Let it go.
When we step out of the box and look, we realize there's nothing there.