This weekend as I was walking with a new friend, she was asking me how I do friendship, what it means to me, and how do I let people into my inner circle of trust. I love these kinds of conversations.
My new friend was telling me about how she and her friend are working through a big rift. Her friend knew a co-worker was saying some really nasty, and hurtful things about new friend professionally, and had even witnessed it happening and did not come to her defense. Her friend said to her, I just don’t like conflict and I don’t want to get involved, besides I wouldn’t know what to say. My new friend was crushed, hurt and couldn’t understand that kind of behavior.
She’s the kind of person, who sticks up for someone when they are being talked about, or something unkind is said to their face. Like me, my friend believes in right speech. That you don’t get to mow someone down with your words, just because it makes you feel better by getting it off your chest. As adults, we can have control over what we say to another person. Now, I’m not talking about the heat of the moment disagreements with our spouses or a respectful, but heated debate about a topic. I’m talking about well thought out emails, verbal assaults, or social media bashing.
I related to my new friend that I had experienced a situation like that in my life too. At a dinner party, a woman said something extremely inappropriate and mean to me. I stood there stunned, confused, and fumbling my goodbyes left in tears. One of the women, who was a good friend, said to me the next day, she thought it was extremely inappropriate and really wants to say something, but didn’t want to get people mad at her. Another woman who witnessed it, said to me, that if it made the person feel better by getting it out, then it was okay. I don’t agree. I would have come to the defense (and have come to the defense) of someone who is being hurt. I reassured my new friend, that if someone was being mean and inappropriate and I witnessed it, I would say something to that person. I don’t let my friends fall unaided into the hands of “mean-girl” behavior. We continued our walk, I dropped her off at home and went about my Saturday business.
Little did I know how synchronistic our conversation was going to be. When I checked my email later in the day, I was treated to a few vicious paragraphs from someone who attends the same writing group I belong to. She has never had a personal conversation with me. Ever! But decided from reading my book, that she had permission to spray me with all sorts of venomous comments.
This woman offered to give my writing partner and I the name of a niece in New York, who works at a film school after we mentioned in our writer’s meeting that we are ready to begin to pitch our project. The woman wanted to read my book first, which makes perfect sense to me. She liked the book, the story was well written, she did not critique my writing, instead, she began to attack me personally, with comments written by a master narcissist. I felt like I had just received an email from my mother and was shaken to my core. The woman copied my writing partner, (who is also a good friend) so she saw the email too. I immediately texted my friend and said, I’m not going to respond, and then went in tears to my husband to tell him about the email.
After she funneled through a myriad of emotions from the email, my friend proceeded to write a beautifully crafted, respectful, direct response to this woman. She told her how cruel, and insensitive this woman had been, especially when she has never had a single personal conversation with me. Directly calling out her hurtful actions and letting her know, that it isn’t okay to treat another person that way. She was straight forward to the point, and included suggestions on what she could do, to right her initial email. My friend sent me a copy of the email separately so I could see what she wrote to this woman.
After reading the email, I broke down in tears. I’m blessed in my life, to have a wonderfully supportive group of friends. My inner circle of friendship is something I never take for granted. But this past Saturday, to witness a friend immediately coming to my defense in such a protective, loving way with no fear, of what someone may think of her, or if they will be mad at her, or will then be the target of an ugly email was humbling and stopped me from going down a dark road.
Not only did my friend write this email, because her core values wouldn’t let someone treat another with such disrespect, but she also did it because she respects me and feels I deserve to be treated the way I treat others. Remember earlier that day, I had that conversation about this very subject. It’s a strange, synchronistic world sometimes.
After tearfully, thanking my friend for coming to my defense, I told my husband what my friend did for me. His response? “That’s what friend’s do!”
image source: google images
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph