After a dear old friend had asked me why I was distancing myself from her, I thought long and hard about a reply.
I waited an entire week before answering. I weighed the options; to tell, not to tell, and the ramifications of all. I talked to four friends about it, including my daughter, who has always been a wise one.
In the end, I felt that honesty was the best answer and took the chance that the friend - who had ASKED me for honesty - was open enough to receive it. She wasn't.
She is hurt and angry and it is absolutely understandable.
We don't really want to know the truth about ourselves, do we? I think most of us would prefer to believe our own version of ourselves. We don't want to know if we have failed as a friend, a partner, a co-worker or a parent or child.
And believe me, I understand that it is not my place nor my job to "fix" someone. But when I felt that this person's actions were becoming more and more unacceptable, I pulled away.
She reconnected and wanted to know what was wrong.
I could have lied. I could have said I had just been busy. Or she was mistaken in thinking I was pulling away. And I have to ask myself whether, in looking back, that would have been a smarter response.
But for me, it would not have been the TRUE response. I would have been living a lie, and as so, would have felt part and parcel to her actions. I truly believe that there is no place for lies between friends - none.
This friend said true friendship is unconditional. That our friendship should have weathered her absence of years, her distance when involved in other things, as well as hurtful actions she has taken. Yet I think the very definition of unconditional implies that friends don't abandon friends, friends don't disappear for years, friends stay connected, despite everything else in life.
I do not want a friend that hurts others. I do not want to share my life, my secrets, my most innermost self, with someone that is so selfish that her own needs, desires, whims, replace friends and family, and she doesn't even see the hurt she is causing. Isn't the first and most important rule of real friendship to do no harm?
But, in being honest, in telling her the frank truth of why I put distance between us, I have hurt her. Wasn't that what I was so upset about in the beginning? That she hurt others? And by hurting her, haven't I now become the one thing I said I can't accept?
Despite my desire to have an honest, true relationship, my brain keeps shouting:
"You hurt someone."
"You hurt someone."
"You hurt someone.''
In the end, I guess, I feel I hurt a friend that I had already lost. It was clear in my heart that there was not going to be any way to salvage this friendship. And so now I must live with that - that I hurt another. My worst fear.
Would you have done differently? Please share your thoughts...