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Love > Grudges

August 21, 2012

Recently I sent facebook messages to my group of friends from undergrad. We’d fallen out of touch since they were all in my wedding and seeing one of them pregnant made me incredibly sad. I’d missed out on so much… weddings, forthcoming babies, girls-only vacations. It broke my heart to know we were once so close and they’re all still so close and I’m so distant.

So I wrote to them all. I told them that I’d realized recently that I’ve never been good at being a friend. Some ladies in my life recently taught me what it means to be a good friend (I’m looking at you, Jill and Jes), and I’m sorry I couldn’t be that for them. I told them that I don’t need to be a part of their inner-circle, but I’d like to be considered a friendly acquaintance. Someone to call when they’re in Chicago. Someone to think of fondly. That’s how I feel about them.

Much to my dismay, only two of the five girls I messaged wrote back. But at least I tried.

A couple weeks later, I worked up the nerves to send a similar message to my very best friend and roommate from undergrad, Jeney. We lived all over each other junior year but had a major falling out senior year, and I’ll take the blame for that. I didn’t know how to be a good friend. I didn’t know how to manage the stress of trying to finish my thesis plus stay involved in theatre plus hang out with my boyfriend/future husband plus be a friend. I can make excuses aplenty, but the bottom line is, I was a shitty friend and roommate.

So a few weeks ago, I told her that. And I apologized. And then I literally feel lighter. I hadn’t realized how much that situation had been weighing me down in the last four or five years. We’ve been exchanging friendly messages for about a month now, and it just feels good to have her back on my team. We’ve missed so much of each others’ lives and all I want to do is go back to our little apartment in Opus, sit on our stiff couch or crappy futon, open a bottle of cheap wine, and catch up on boys, weddings, jobs, moves, family, and school. Instead, I’ll happily settle for a possible brief visit this fall. I’m also holding out for an epic 5 year SMC reunion next spring.

So here’s what I’ve learned in this humble exercise of owning up to my own shortcomings: It’s easier to love someone than it is to hold a grudge. And the grudges I hold are often worthless, petty, and tiresome. It takes less energy to let go, to forgive, to love.

If you have a relationship weighing on your shoulders like I did, take a moment to really consider it. Would it be so bad to acknowledge your faults? Imagine what it might mean to the other person to own up to your shortcomings. Even if you’ll never be bffs again, isn’t it enough to be friendly? Think about all you shared. Is it worth being angry over something small?

Probably not.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2012 9:58 am

    It’s amazing how much I can relate to this. I’ve always said about myself that I’m too lazy to hold a grudge. It’s silly, but also the truth is that being angry is a lot of work. So, I’m not the type who stays angry, but I’ve also been a bad friend in the past. Maybe that part has to do with laziness too.

    It’s really great that you reached out to these people. Feeling lighter is a nice side effect of that too. 🙂

  2. August 21, 2012 10:16 am

    I love this. I have a grudge from college (uh, 6 years ago) that I still sometimes think about and even have dreams about. While I still feel wronged, it would be very freeing to just send an email and clear the air. You’ve inspired me. I think I’m gonna do it. 🙂

  3. August 21, 2012 11:44 am

    I love that you were willing to admit that you hadn’t been the greatest friend. I admitted this a lot to one friend in particular because she was the one friend I had kept in touch with beyond high school, but it turned out that she was the bad friend who asked me to write recommendation letters for her and then stop talking to me. It made me sad for a while, but then I told her that I wouldn’t be a good friend to her and that she shouldn’t contact me again,

  4. Jes permalink
    August 21, 2012 12:03 pm

    I love you so much. Something I’ve learned about Great Friendships–ones that you’ve worked hard to build a solid foundation for and taken time to build–is that they can withstand someone being a shitty friend sometimes. The friendship will stay intact while the friends get their acts together. I feel really lucky that I have been able to be the shitty friend, one who always forgets to call back and leaves birthday cards unstamped on the kitchen table for months or who takes out stress on those who don’t deserve it, and been allowed to fail. No one is perfect, and when you can care about someone–warts and all–and feel loved knowing that your friend has seen you NOT at your best, the friendship is just that much deeper and fuller.

    I also want to say how great I think you are for reaching out to these ladies. It can be so scary! I remember how bummed you were with the lack of response you got from your high school pals, and I’m so happy to hear that you got a better outcome with Jeney. She’s a lucky girl to have you on her team too!

  5. August 21, 2012 3:06 pm

    I’m glad you’re having some success in contacting lost friends. I lost a really great friend in high school over something silly and have tried multiple times to remedy that relationship to no avail. It still makes me sad.

  6. August 21, 2012 7:26 pm

    i bet your friends really appreciated that, i had a friend apologize to me recently and did take a weight off of us. we’re still not as close as we used to be but i truly appreciated the acknowledgement.


  7. August 22, 2012 8:40 pm

    I love this.

    You know what’s hard? Juggling a super serious boyfriend with college friends who are single. I think that was the thing that hurt a lot of my relationships. I didn’t set up great boundaries with Mike (who was in grad school and had less friends) so we hung out ALL THE TIME, making my friends feel left out. I have regrets, but also am glad that I invested time into my husband. It’s all SO HARD.

    I have a lot of regrets about not making more acquaintances friends. I used to be really religious, so all of my friends were. Now I’m not, so I’ve lost that part of those friendships.

  8. August 27, 2012 1:26 pm

    I’ve been thinking along these lines for quite some time, but I’ve yet to take the plunge and apologize. I really want to, but it’s hard to make oneself so vulnerable. Maybe I should just get it over with – it’ll be like getting a shot, right? It’ll hurt for a minute, but then it’s over and you’re better off. Nothing would be better than repairing some of the relationships in my life. So, thanks for the encouragement. If you can do it, maybe so can I?

  9. August 29, 2012 4:49 pm

    THIS POST. I love it. I swear i could have written this post — minus the actually having the guts to email my friends. But I GET what you mean about not knowing how to be a good friend. I’m seriously horrible at it when people aren’t in my vicinity all the time. Like college was so easy for that. Even when they live in my own town I’m not good at keeping in touch and being a friend. And it’s killed a lot of friendships. Good ones and also ones that probably needed to die. Seemed to reveal some things. I know a lot of it was me though. My inability to be a good friend.

    Your post has inspired me. I’m going to be writing some emails…at least drafting them. Hopefully I’ll be courageous enough to go through with it.

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