The first casualty of a frayed relationship

When a relationship is strained, lines are drawn, sides taken and moral stances struck.  The first casualty in such standoffs is often honesty, which is a shame, since it’s also the only way back to health.   But since feelings are strained, hackles are easily raised and things are at a breaking point, you must be very careful about what you say, how you say it, what you leave out, what is safe terrain and what is a minefield that will blow everybody up if you set a toe on to it.   

Though this limited honesty may feel to you like a kind of death, if you are used to an honest back and forth, it is nothing like death.  It is an attempt to save the life of a frayed relationship in the only way possible, by putting things on a respirator in hopes of an eventual return to health and good cheer.

Only time will tell if your efforts towards repair succeed.   A primal wound feels the same every time someone pokes a finger into it.  The loss of a long, close friendship, in spite of your best efforts, always hurts exactly the same way, is identical to the grief of death in its inexorable finality.  I will say, from my experience, a friendship that ends with someone screaming at you or bullying you is much easier to walk away from than one where your friend expresses only hurt, confusion and exasperation.  It is as if the anger of the friend you are trying to reach cauterizes the wound, since you feel immediately relieved to be away from someone who can’t stop hissing and snarling.  Good riddance to the raging bastard.

It is a tricky business, to be a human, as anyone who has tried it will tell you.   The most important tool to mending hurt is mutual understanding. 

Trying to reach understanding with only limited honesty, certain things never on the table for discussion, is supremely challenging.   If the relationship means enough to you it is possible to find the patience to wait, even though it may seem impossible to be that patient at certain points.   As long as you don’t lose your temper there is a chance of repair, even with the prickliest, most defensive of characters.  The hope is that at that point mutual honesty will also be restored, everyone wiser for the long, terrible disruption of good will.

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