Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, Sept 2014. 

Kiss and Make Up

I have a confession.

This year has been a doozy. I was hit with a lot of loss this year and no one was more surprised than me to when I found myself keeping tabs on who didn’t ask or inquire about how I was doing. It’s terrible. I feel really guilty about it, but it’s true. A lot of people did ask how I was doing, how my family was holding up, how my friends were coping and many of those people are not “close friends” but people who receive my newsletter, read my blog, follow me on social media or know me from a past life in another city I’ve lived in. It was a roller coaster because I didn’t always want to talk about how I was feeling, it was too emotional or hard to do, but still I wanted to be asked. I was asked a lot and I really really appreciated that. But there were a few people — who I consider part of my inner circle of friends — who didn’t check in and ask. Perception vs reality I’m certain came into play, but when push came to shove I felt like some of my closest friends didn’t want to go there with me and ask the tough questions.

And I took it personally. Again it’s something I’m not proud of and it feels really raw and vulnerable to share this openly.

Now that I have a few months of distance and feel myself coming up for air, showing up to events and birthday parties again, and in general being “around” I realized that there was a chasm between me and a few close friends.

One in particular really hurt. It was someone I have known for 10 years in two different cities and who I love. Now, when everything was happening to me, she was also dealing with some personal issues, and suddenly we went from seeing each other and talking frequently to having little to no contact for 5 months.

It sucked. I wasn’t mad and wasn’t acting immature (I hope) it was more of a sadness, a feeling that happens in your 30s when some friends start to drift away caught up in their own lives and the spontaneity of your 20s fades away as it becomes harder to see the people you care about.

Then in the last two weeks, she came to my small birthday gathering and to an event I produced for a client which meant a lot. However, and this is credit all to her and not to me, she came up to me after the event to talk. And she apologized. For not really being there for me. And I realized I deeply owed her an apology too because I was so far into my own situation that I didn’t see that she needed someone to be there for her as well. In other words, we went to that scary place called open dialogue and candid conversation. We talked about the hurt and honestly it wasn’t a very long conversation. A few minutes tops. But it meant the world. We both said it was water under the bridge and that we missed one another.

We got together this past Sunday for some quality time. Of all the things we could do in NYC, we simply walked. We walked for 2 hours and talked and caught up and laughed and told stories and it was amazing.

This isn’t a story about me taking credit. It’s her. I didn’t see, couldn’t see, how a simple admission to how we felt could make things better, but sure enough it did. It really truly did.

I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes we are really caught up in our own lives. And justifiably so in many cases. But I would guess many of us have that friend where there is a rift and it’s never been talked about and we would fix it if we could but we don’t know how.

There’s not a silver bullet for friendship. It takes time and energy…and honesty…and vulnerability. It takes speaking up and showing up. Real friends are hard to come by, and damn it, worth fighting for.

I’m so grateful a close friend taught me that lesson this week.

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