...the voice of pensioners

Friendship repair-work.

20 Jun 2019

Dear LPG,


I was talking with a lady that I met just once in a day centre a couple of months ago.  For some unexplainable reason we started trying to define the fundamental difference between the relationships you have with an acquaintance, as opposed to that of someone you are really close to; be it a partnership or platonic friendship.


I said that I felt that a close relationship should be able to survive any argument or embarrassment, but she then pointed out that a friendship is a two way affair and, as such, both people in it need to feel that way.


It occurred to me that as we get older we have had more time to lose some of our really close friends because of some often quite small point where there is disagreement on one side, and I can think of two personal friendships that have been marred by something really stupid where I was the one who felt that I was wrong, but perhaps pride was preventing me from admitting it to the other person concerned.


She then introduced something into our conversation, that I feel other readers may benefit from thinking about, and that was the notion that, before you can forgive someone else for anything, you have to be able to forgive yourself.  I remember thinking that the idea of forgiving yourself is a very Christion one but it is something that so few people actually do.  The lady pointed out that situations, which are often quite small, arise in our lives on a day to day basis and it is really easy to allow the initial resentment to grow if you let it.  Self-forgiveness is something that has to be practised until you get proficient no matter how old you are when you start.  She added that often, as time passes between the beginning of the disagreement and the present time, whatever the reason it all started, perhaps it becomes easier to forgive yourself and the other person, (if that is necessary) because other issues become important in your life and, when you look back, whatever started the feud will be able to be looked at more objectively.


As a result of that conversation I called an ex work-colleague who I felt had made life difficult for me some 30 years ago.  What happened back then had left both of us feeling wronged yet feeling that we had no choice but to act as we did and I have to admit that it was me who refused to talk about it then.  That day we repaired our friendship and now meet up from time to time. 


Let’s face it, as we get older it is good to keep in contact with friends.


GS, Dulwich