I had a first yesterday. It happens to lots of people, every day. But, yesterday, it was my turn.
I had a fight with a dear friend, Mo, over something trivial, and she tried to personally hurt and attack me very deeply. I’m talking shit-you-don’t-even-joke-about type insults. I’ve had plenty of conflicts, heated discussions and confrontations, even fights in my past. But never, until this, have I had someone I love, that I believe (still) loves me, dole out an emotional sucker punch like this.
(Fast forward through the furious tears, the telling-of-my-story to others, and eating a HUGE slice of carrot cake for dinner as consolation.)
- I realize the things she said to me were a result of a surge of uncontrollable emotion on her part, and that she doesn’t truly believe I’m as horrible as she described.
- Moving past my emotions, I also realize that this incident will be an AMAZINGLY valuable teacher.
This week, our Tribe learned about empathy. Creating and holding a safe, present, and non-judgmental space for someone else for the purposes of authentic connection, learning, and growth. I have done this with Mo through 12 years of friendship. Through my relocation and isolation. Through her career changes. Through my heartbreaks. Through her divorce.
Right now, empathy is what she needs most. Mo has been drawn to my authentic living and inward discovery, to my optimism, as it counters her pessimism, and to this safe space created for us and by us. In this very space is where we are able to shed our masks, to sift through all the shit life throws at us and hold onto the gems. As I’ve see her rejoicing in the light, I have now seen her reel in the dark.
Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own. -Barbara Kingsolver
I will take a break from interaction with her while the emotions settle. I will redirect my irrational thoughts. I will share my experience with others for the purposes of connection, learning, and growth.
I will forge on. I will maintain the safe space, and wait, with empathy.
I will keep a light on for you, Mo.