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Recently, I was dumped. Not by a lover, but by a friend. Yet, strangely enough, I felt quite serene.
Of course, I think it's a shame that this long-standing friendship is lost and broken, but I'm okay and accept that I have been excluded.
It was a slippery slope on a pandemic night, when everyone was feeling sick and emotional. The same state of mind we've all been in for the past two years!
We were in a blur of green-orange zoning. Remember that time when the colour of our region determined the number of guests we were allowed to have inside?
I had sent out the invitations for my holiday dinner when the zoning was hopeful. A few days before the big day, my city and the surrounding area turned orange. We would we were a few heads over the number of people allowed. A friend of mine mentioned the possible fines and other potential "stressors". Since the containment, limited freedom allowances and then re-confinement, I had my nerves on edge, I foolishly replied that everyone was in control of their decisions and if they wanted to opt out, that would allow us to meet the allowed ratio.
My reaction was super flat, and I admitted my mistake. Several days later, I picked up the phone to apologetically explained my mistake to my invitees. Once was no longer a friend that I was in frequent contact with, but I felt it was important to reconcile with him. A few minutes after this verbal exchange, this friend wrote me that he was very happy with this outcome and that we had done well to discuss. Communication can sometimes be beneficial! That was ancient history.
Imagine my incomprehension when almost a year later, inviting all my friends to a festive barbecue (and respecting the sanitary measures in effect), I did not receive a reply from him. It had been so long since I had heard from him! I had written him at his party to congratulate him on his new musical project. I had received a positive response, with a smile emoji, but nothing more. Was he disappointed that I didn't check up on him more often? At the same time, the pandemic meant that I had been discreet with quite a few people.
"Here, there could have been perception checkers," explains psychologist Josée Jacques. "It's done in three simple steps: you describe the facts (I sent you a message and I didn't get a response), you offer two interpretations (are you still angry or did you not see my message because you're too busy?) and you verify what it is. Checking prevents us from being left with false interpretations."
Shortly after the invitations were sent, a friend went to dinner with this friend's partner, who had become mute. And that's how I learned that our squabble. Which in my mind was a done deal, but yet was not a done deal after all. That this friend had cut me out of his life. My first instinct, even though I was angry, was to want to resolve it. But, I changed my mind. What was there to fix? Hadn't everything already been said? What had happened in the year that we had barely spoken to each other to make it so bad?
"The question is always: Who's problem is it? If I don't own the problem, I don't have to fix it. That said, a lot of ambiguity can cause reflection and awareness. If you care about the relationship, you check without judgment: "I notice that you were a bit distant. Is it because you're angry at something I did or because you just need or want some time to yourself?" That's the ideal, but sometimes you don't care that much about the relationship. And if the other person doesn't seem to care or value it either, it may die on its own. We just don't know. "Maybe there will be a reunion one day," says the psychologist.
To me, I understood, between the lines, that his action was perhaps the pretext that this friend was waiting for to show me my value status on our relationship. And I understood that my inaction or unwillingness to try to convince him otherwise was also a sign that our friendship had reached the end of its life.