Why is it that I so often do the very things I don't want to do? I wish I could trust myself.
I am feeling sad.
I avoid writing when I'm feeling sad, because I am a bit of a control freak and I aspire to write things that are carefully planned, with a well thought-through objectivity. (But I'm probably kidding myself to think that I manage that anyway.)
Writing the way I'm writing now is risky. I'm not sure what i'm going to say next. All I know is that I have a burden and maybe writing about it will help. I suppose it's a sort of confession.
I have hurt a friend and in doing so I have hurt myself. I actually care about him a lot. And because I care about him, I was worried about little things I'd noticed, habits and attitudes of his that I judged to be damaging. And I am his best friend, so if anyone's going to gently challenge him about these things it's me, right? But I didn't say anything because I didn't trust myself to do so in a loving way. Then, because I didn't say anything, those things continued to bug me. And slowly my concern for him got tainted with irritation, and with my own need to express myself.
Then one day he got talking to me. He said he'd noticed some things that worried him. Like how maybe it was a bad decision for me to go self-employed just as the economy was hitting a recession. And also that maybe the way I interact with my wife is a bit unhealthy and we need to work on some things.
I was taken aback. I'd been more worried about him! But I listened, and tried to take things on board and weigh them up. On balance I felt he'd got his conclusions a bit wrong, that he didn't understand the whole situation, but I appreciated that he was concerned about me, and he'd clearly tried hard to say things in a gracious way.
But then I had this dilemma. He feels able to raise things with me, so why do I keep avoiding talking openly with him? And now, to do so might seem like getting back at him. So I clammed up even more around him.
Then eventually, I realised I had to talk to him. And I questioned my motives carefully but decided it was the right thing to do as a friend, to be honest with him.
And then, well I don't really want to go over the whole thing again, but by the time I put the phone down I felt shell-shocked, because somehow the conversation had morphed into something I'd never intended. He was hurt and angry. I'd come across as accusative. And we'd begun by getting stuck on the things he'd said to me about my marriage, which I didn't intend to keep talking about, and thought I'd put to rest, and it hurt because I felt judged. And then I realised that he felt just as judged by me. And I wasn't eloquent enough to say things as graciously as he had first said things to me. And I felt inferior.
This was a week or so ago. He's just emailed me, still hurt. Lashing back, the way he felt I was lashing back at him.
And I have to accept that there are some things we don't see eye to eye on. Because if I try to keep explaining my point of view and defending myself back to him, we will continue to hurt each other more and more. So I emailed back and said I care about him, I didn't set out to hurt him, I know I can be an idiot sometimes. And I resisted the temptation to say he can be an idiot too. Because the only one I am responsible for, and the only one I can change is myself. And I don't know anymore if friends should challenge each other in this way, or just love unconditionally, always hope for the best, with no demands or un-sought-for advice.
Still, I do believe that love needs to be tough sometimes. But sometimes I get caught up with the toughness and love gets lost along the way. I've lost confidence in myself, I feel broken. To rebuild the relationship seems so difficult now, with all the intricacies of hurt, judgement and suspicion. I'm going to have to keep swallowing my pride, letting things go. But I do feel there is hope around the corner if I can learn from this.