Thursday, October 19, 2006

Waiting for Perspective

I had a complaint from my husband today that my blog has been a little thin of late. Of course, he is right.

The truth is, I haven't felt much like writing lately. There has been only one topic on my mind, and I have not been ready to tackle it. I have been waiting for some perspective on a very sad situation, and it has taken its time in showing up. But I do believe it has finally arrived, so now I will write with the peace I have hitherto been lacking, and move on with life--and blogging.

Last month I lost a friend. Not an acquaintance, but a friend whose life is completely intertwined with mine. Someone who lives down the street from me, whose children are the same ages and in the same schools and classes as mine. A person I spoke with every day, multiple times a day. The person I sought out at every social event. The godmother of my oldest son.

This friendship was lost suddenly and completely, and there wasn't a thing I could do to stop it. You see, the reason this person no longer will speak to me, or even look at me, is because our husbands (who were longtime friends in their own right) had a business disagreement. Granted, a very serious one, but a business disagreement nonetheless.

I have been over this and over this in my head for weeks. At first, it didn't make any sense to me. How could I lose a friend because my husband argued with hers? One day we were having coffee in her kitchen while our children played and the next she wouldn't even look at me when she passed me in the school parking lot. She and I had no harsh words. Nothing changed between us. We went from friendship to silence in a matter of hours.

In the first two weeks, I made three attempts to make things right with her. I emailed her, tried unsuccessfully to speak with her, then wrote her a letter. I received no response at all. This was so very hurtful to me. I did nothing to her, did not change myself at all, and I was severed from her life. I simply could not fathom it. So our husbands argued about business. What could this possibly have to do with her and I? And then there are the children. My children are simply wrecked over the loss of their playmates, her children. How can I explain this to them? I can't.

One of the hardest things for me to accept has been that this behavior is not like her at all. She is not a cold, unfeeling person. She is not cruel. She is a compassionate, giving person, a good Christian, and I don't believe that ignoring me fits in with who she is. Something was not adding up.

After my befuddlement faded a bit, I became angry. I can see now that this was wounded pride more than anything. No matter what I did, I could not fix or change the situation I was in. I had no control over any of it. My mother gave me some good advice during this time. "Honestly pray for her" she said, "and it will soften your heart." She was right, of course. When I first attempted this, I found I could not genuinely do it because I wanted her to hurt as she had hurt me. Why should she have peace when I had none? As soon as I realized this, I understood that something was wrong with me and my attitude that needed fixing. After that realization, the peace began to come and my prayers for her happiness and peace became genuine.

As the weeks have gone by, and after much prayer, my view is changing. The disagreement our husbands had was, at its base level, about integrity and morality. They disagreed about what the right thing to do was in a business situation, and each felt completely sure that the other was not only wrong, but had, for this situation at least, lost his moral compass. As I realized that in supporting my husband I was essentially making a character statement about hers, I understood--although still do not agree--why she cannot bear to look at me. If she believes that I think her husband has less than 100% integrity, how could she continue a friendship with me? I can truly understand this. But why we couldn't or can't talk about this I still don't understand. Because she has not asked, she can only guess how I might be feeling.

Conversely, I suppose I should not wish to be friends with someone who might be thinking that my husband is anything less than 100% honorable, as she may be thinking. But this is not the case. I am so sure that my husband's decisions are prayerful and moral to the best of his ability, that I am not threatened by the opinions of others where he is concerned. Plus, the husbands' business is their business. Not being in the situation myself, I can only assume that they both did their best in a difficult circumstance.

With my new perspective I now see that our friendship probably cannot continue. There has been too much damage, and trust lost by all. If it were to continue, it would never be the same.

I am truly and honestly glad that she is so supportive of her husband that she has gone to extremes to prove it. He absolutely should have a wife that is totally on his side--every husband should. Her marriage is so much more important than our friendship and if cutting herself off from me helps keep it strong, I am more than willing to sacrifice our friendship for this greater good. I wish she could simultaneously support her husband and be my friend, but I understand, at least, why she might not be able to.

As time goes on, I will continue to attempt to greet her pleasantly when I see her and hope for, at least, a peaceful coexistence. I know too much about her to be indifferent, and will always wish the best for her and her family. I no longer feel anger...only sadness. But this, too, will fade.

Perspective. It's a good thing.

7 comments:

Annie Bizzi said...

Suzanne,
To loose a friend like you, (and I speak from the depths of my being), she must be truly broken-hearted as well...
I haven't known someone that is truly as selfless and forthright, thoughtful and forgiving, prayerful and loving as you are. You handled this with the utmost grace, no doubt a gift from the Holy Spirit... I know that it must be just as difficult a loss for her as it is for you.
You are always in my prayers and I send you much love!!!
Many blessings,
Andrea

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

Thanks so much, Andrea. I needed that!

Mom to Almost Four said...

I feel for your loss and cannot imagine losing a beautiful friendship I have that is so similar. I will pray for you both.

Celeste

Michelle said...

Suzanne,

don't mourn forever the passing of a friendship...don't think that things will never be the same again. Perhaps it is true, but perhaps her emotions are so strong that she needs a lot of time to overcome them. Perhaps she's not ready to move on and wants to be upset for now.

I have two sisters. When one was a teenager and I was just out of college, she stole my identity and opened 2 charge accounts in my name. She ended up in the juvenile detention center. Two years later I got married. I was still angry with her, but I knew that I wanted my wedding day memories to last a lifetime and I didn't honestly want my anger to last a lifetime. I asked her to be a bridesmaid. Today she's one of my best friends.

My other sister decided for reasons that are bizarre and obscure to completely cut me out of her life. Everything I did was twisted so as to appear selfish or evil. I am not perfect, but the standard by which she compared me magnified my every little flaw. I tried everything - I even wrote a letter apologizing for any injury I might have ever caused her (she, at one point, was reaching into the well of teenage years and bringing up transgressions from when I was in high school...I was over thirty years old by then...how could I defend myself against a litany of charges that stretched back 20 years?). She refused my apology saying that I was just doing it to look good, to be able to say, "See how wonderful I am?"

This treatment continued for ten years. It has only been in the last year that she has been adult enough to attempt civility to me. In part, my mother finally had had enough (I've been so mad at my mom for tolerating her behavior, but mom always did like her best!!!), in part, she met my kids and realized that she had all these potential adoring fans (she is unhappily unmarried and now over 30 with the chances of having children diminishing rapidly), in part, maybe she is just getting tired of holding a grudge.

We have a long way to go to actual friendship, but through God all things are possible...

Sorry for the long post! Don't give up hope. And be prepared to be forgiving of her selfish and hurtful behavior...you might be called to be her best friend again, even if you don't want to!

nutmeg said...

Isn't prayer amazing?

I'll be updating my post about the "anti-life" attitude of some Catholic friends of mine....all b/c my perspective changed. And I realized that instead of being angry and annoyed at their reaction to new life, I need to pray, b/c they are in fact going through a crisis of faith.

The prayers do soften one's heart.

And I am truly sorry for the sadness that has come into yours.

It's a chance we take, isn't it? To let someone come close to us and shape our lives.

God bless you!

Suzanne Di Silvestri said...

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your supportive comments.

Michelle, I especially appreciate you sharing your own situation with your sisters. Your story further contributed to my change in perspective because, as difficult as it is to lose a friend, it has to be a million times worse to have a conflict with family members. Family is forever. I will pray for further reconcilliation among you!

The biggest lesson I believe I have learned through all of this is that, no matter how much you think you may be in the right, you cannot convince someone who does not want to hear it. Or, to boil this down more simply, you cannot control other people--neither actions nor thoughts. As someone who struggles with control issues, this has been a bitter pill for me to swallow! Some things we simply cannot change or stop.

I hope you are right that this may pass, as hopeless as it seems now. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

"Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing affright you. All things pass. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. He who has God finds he lacks nothing. God alone suffices." --St. Teresa of Avila

Whatever happens, my life is full.

Tina said...

Sweetie,

I know how much this has been hurting you. It must have been very difficult to come to the realization that a friendship for now has been lost. My greater prayer for your family is that a Godmother is not also lost. As a child you don't understand the adult stuff, you only see that your Godmother never shows up to anything. Always invite her anyway to those special events. I pray that she finds it in her heart to do what is right for her Godchild.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience and a hurt that has not yet healed - and I'm 41 years old.

God Bless and Lots of Love,
Tina