I have recently entered into some new friendships. As with any other friendship I am a part of, I have spent the first several months very intentionally observing. What communication styles are most effective, what is off-putting, what kind of foods people like, etc. It’s like learning to read. Kind of slow and clunky, with lots of sounding out words and stopping and starting again. This is what it’s like to be an outspoken extrovert who cares about other people’s feelings. And yes, it is exactly as much work as it sounds. But I don’t know another way to really be in relationship.
So the thing that happens is that at some point, every relationship has drama. It’s a thing. Not a single one of us is perfect; we are all works of art in progress in a broken world and we all bring varying degrees of brokenness and inability to deal with certain things to every relationship we have. For example: things I am unable to deal with rationally are gossip and people assuming the worst of my intentions.
When drama happens in a BIG way, it feels like the book I’ve been struggling through for months (or even years) was upside-down the whole time I was learning to read it.
I think the reason so many of us have revolving doors on our relationship lobby is that we don’t know what to do after that happens. I mean, it was A Thing. But how do you talk about it? It was so bad and we don’t want to relive it. So either we walk out the door, so to speak (or maybe literally…), or we stay and pretend like nothing happened. Everything is fine. See? No one’s yelling or crying or leaving…at least not right now…I should admit right now that I am terrible at this option, as has been repeatedly pointed out to me over the years.
I think there must be another way.
What if we could look our drama in the face (sometimes after enough space and time has passed) and try to learn from it? What if we created a safe space to say, “I value your friendship and I care about you enough to want to really think about how we can communicate better”? It’s difficult, but what if we could not give up? Maybe the book was upside-down. It happens. Just keep going; keep sounding it out, one word at a time.
I do this. Occasionally, it makes my stomach hurt. Sometimes for weeks at a time. Authentic relationship is not for the faint of heart. But in my experience, it is so entirely worth it.
I feel like this post goes hand in hand with this other post.