What I Should Have Tattooed on My Forehead
I was reminded about the importance of communication a couple of times this week—not only with my girlfriendships® but with all relationships. I’ve learned that the biggest problem with communication often is the illusion that it has taken place.
This idea has manifested itself for me in myriad ways recently, but my greatest challenge has been with those girls who I love. It seems when there’s lack of communication, it can snowball into a situation that can leave permanent scars. I say “permanent” because if there is no effort to change what is broken, it remains broken. Now, I don’t pretend to be any sort of specialist, professional, or the like when it comes to communication. However, I know firsthand what it happens to a girlfriendship when there is no communication.
My Story about a Broken Girlfriendship
I have, well I should say, had a friend who, if she would have communicated her thoughts to me, we might still be friends. I was burned twice by her and yes, I am not using that word lightly. She has her side and I certainly have mine. Here’s my side:
Pete and I moved to the east coast when Lex was in junior high and Kole in elementary. Lex struggled a bit more than Kole because she was smack-dab in the middle of puberty and trying to find her way amongst a bunch of new girls who were facing the same issues. Lex was one of the tallest in her grade with beautiful, long blonde hair, a developing figure, and was very kind. You can imagine how the other girls must’ve felt. She was their competition.
Here’s How I Met Mary
Pete and I always believed that no matter what, our kids needed to be part of a team. We felt that teams were a way to have a social life beyond school, plus, teams were always great life-lesson-teachers. So as new kids in town, we encouraged the kids to join a sport.
As I said before, Lex was a tall girl for her age (total opposite from me, I was always the shortest), so she played basketball, and Pete decided to be the assistant coach. (He was always that good dad who was committed to the kids and their sports.) He and the head coach (I’ll call him John), became fast friends. Pete came home after the first game (which I didn’t attend), and said, “You have to meet John’s wife. She’s so great! You two will get along so well.”
Pete was right. Mary (I’ll call her Mary) and I also became fast friends. The first time we met it was as if we had known each other for years. We went out to dinner one night, and when I dropped her back home at 9:30, we sat in my truck until 1:00 am talking. We hung onto each other's words as if they were the last. We talked until we were hoarse, and we laughed until we cried. It was a fabulous night, and we cultivated an amazing new friendship.
We went on like this for over a year. On the weekends, Pete and I were either at John and Mary’s home or they were at ours. Kole was with us most of the time, but Lex often stayed back because she wasn’t a fan of their daughters. (That should have been a warning. Lex is always the moral compass in the family.)
After about a year of girlfriendship bliss, something in it broke. Mary and I went from texting each other about five times a day to her only texting me about twice a week. I was pretty concerned so I texted her:
“Hey just checking in. Is there something wrong? We hardly talk to each other anymore. Did I do something that upset you?”
Mary texted back, “No, no not at all. School activities with the girls have kept me super busy!” (This is not verbatim, but it’s pretty close).
Here’s Where the Scars Appear
A week or two went by and nothing changed.
I kept thinking, “I knew you last year when your girls were in school and in sports and you weren’t ‘too busy’ to respond, so what’s changed now?” None of it made sense. So I asked her to come over and talk with me. I always feel in-person is the best way to communicate.
I wanted to see her face, read her body language, and listen to the tone in her voice.
Mary came over. If I went into all the details of that scene, you’d be here reading all day long. I’ll get to the outcome:
She never acknowledged anything, and our friendship just faded away.
I wondered every single day what I did to make her not like me anymore. Had she told me, maybe we could have mended what was broken. Maybe I could have apologized or done something differently. I would’ve given my every effort to make things better. Mary meant the world to me and I was willing to make her happy. However, it turns out that I couldn’t do any of that for her. She had to do it for herself.
Still Broken, But Giving it a Second Chance
A year passed, and we became friends again. I sort of got out of her that she “dropped” me because I became friends with someone whom she didn’t want to associate with. How frustrating right? Why didn’t she just say something?!
Then a few months passed and for a second time, Mary dropped me. I guess she found something else about me that she didn’t like. What’s that saying? “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, I should have that tattooed on my forehead.
This time I wasn’t hurt. I was angry and I walked away saying, “Good riddance!” I think we’ve all been at this point at some time in our lives. It’s unfortunate, but it gives us a chance to grow and better ourselves. I am always up for growth.
The Lesson. There’s Always a Lesson.
Ever since, I have been extremely conscientious about communicating. But I know communication works two ways. If the other person involved isn't participating, then it’s not communication, it’s a monologue. Being burned twice by Mary has led me to this:
If there is no communication, I will choose to let the scar break the friendship.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has already taken place.”
Communicate with your girlfriends. It’s so important because if you don’t, one day they may no longer be there.
Lisa A.K.A Loopie