Learning from a “break” while still keeping your heart intact (part 1 of 2)

Written by on August 11, 2013 in Learning to Breathe - 5 Comments

Just recently I had a falling out with someone who I had for some time called a good friend. It was a big one, and, although it was probably inevitable, it still hurt.

I had met this friend almost a year ago through a mutual friend shortly before she’d moved to London, not far from where I was living. Just before we’d met, our mutual friend had warned me “be a little careful with her, she’s had a tough time recently and had a difficult childhood so she’s a bit troubled. But you may be just the kind of friend who can really help her.” And that’s precisely what I’d tried to do.

I’d met with this friend almost immediately as she’d moved to London where she had been living with a then friend of hers with whom she’d soon had a falling out. She had then moved into another flat renting a room from a neighbour before he too had asked her to move out. In the meanwhile, I had introduced my new friend to many other friends and had made sure that she was always invited out with our group of girlfriends and especially on any “girls’ nights out”. When she’d faced hard times, I’d listened to her problems and tried to comfort her. When she wanted to date, I’d helped her create an online dating profile. And when she was down on her luck work-wise, I’d given her advice and even introduced her to some contacts in an industry she was considering. When she was down on funds and we all went out as friends, we’d all pitched in to pay the majority of the bill so she wouldn’t have to.

I thought I’d been a good friend, but the friendship, which had started out well, had gone sour after some time. There were people I’d introduced her to that she’d began to speak badly about or would act coldly to. She’d also argued with and broke off friendships with several other friends she’d made in my presence. And one of the friends I’d introduced her to and with whom we’d formed a trio of girls who liked to go out soon began complaining that my friend kept yelling at her and criticising aspects of her that she had no right to. My other friend began saying that she wanted “a break” from this new friend and that she couldn’t take her “negative energy” anymore. In spite of all this, I’d defended her vehemently and said that “she was just having a difficult time” and to “cut her some slack”.

That is, until I had my own falling out with this friend, and then suddenly I had nothing that I could think of to excuse her.

In my life I’d learned though that nothing is entirely one-sided. I’m divorced after all. And since my divorce, I’ve dated quite a few divorced men, all with a really good story of how their ex-wife has wronged them. I have no doubt that my own ex-husband’s story about how I went wrong would sound equally as good about me, just as my story of why I’d decided to leave is also very reasonable sounding. My sister always tells me the same line when I tell her about how someone I’m dating is having a rough time with an ex. “In an argument there’s always three sides to every story. There’s his side, her side, and then there’s the truth.” My sister is a wise woman.

I’ve always thought of myself as just as much flawed as I am wonderful. There is a long list of fantastic qualities which people who love me, who appreciate me, and who have known me for long would attribute to me. But there is also an equally long list of flaws that people who are angry or annoyed at me would also own to me. I will accept both. And I’ve spent much of my life trying to improve myself in some area or other.

The books I read these days mainly involve books on improving my parenting technique (as you’ll see from the majority of my reviews), helping to hone my business sense and my ability to navigate the business world, improving myself spiritually and as a person (learning the value of gratitude for example, as in a previous blog entry), and improving my language skills through courses and practice books. Constantly improving oneself is something that’s always been important to me and I truly believe that it is the main thing that we are meant to do in this short life that we’ve been given. We need to become better people in this life to improve our chances for the next life. I also know that I still have quite a lot of work to do before I am prepared for anything much bigger.

So I am not stupid enough to believe that even someone who many people I know have called “troubled” is entirely to blame for our falling out, even if that falling out with people seems to be a normal pattern in her difficult life.

In our lives we are given only a limited power over the lives of others. I can encourage my little girls to become better people through my words and my actions, but inevitably all I can really do is to let go and release them to the world and hope and pray that I’ve been a good enough mother that they want to continue to call me their mother and not to someday complain too much about me in therapy. My mother has done this impeccably with both me and my sister. I still adore her, respect her, and value her judgement and opinion above that of most people (at least for most things). I love her and confide in her in a way that I hope my own kids can many years from today when they are my age. And, in her turn, she still worries about me in the way only a mother can while, at the same time, releasing me to the world with every worry and just praying for the best.

In the same way, I know that it is normal for friends and lovers to come and go, for people to change, and for many misunderstandings to arise because it is rare (or rather impossible) to find two people who have absolutely no disagreements or conflicts between them. It is also normally rare for one side of the equation of two to be completely without blame. I have known this always. Every time I’ve had a falling out with a friend or a significant other in my life (and there haven’t been that many), I’ve always looked at my role in the issue. The amount of looking at myself that I did after the ending of my marriage, and the amount that I’ve learned about myself from the mistakes I attribute to me have been so significant that I rest assured that the next time I marry (if I ever dare to tread that path again), I will be a very different person (and hopefully a very understanding and thoughtful wife) just as the person I choose to marry will be very different from my first choice. After all, if we don’t manage to learn from our mistakes, then what is the point of making them?

So, in the same way, even though many friends and loved ones will reassure me that this break wasn’t my fault, I will still take the blame for at least 50% of it, for words I spoke without thinking, and for things I’ve done which may have hurt this other person or touched on any of her insecurities. If she reads this one day, then she should know that I am really sorry for anything I said or did that may have hurt her. Just as she is human and therefore flawed, so am I. Just as she makes mistakes constantly, so do I. The difference perhaps is that I don’t expect people to do otherwise, and I do everything I can to learn and improve on my mistakes for the next opportunity.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of “learning from a break” coming next month.  

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5 Comments on "Learning from a “break” while still keeping your heart intact (part 1 of 2)"

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