September 11, 2006

Maturity vs. Just Being Damn Old

I know I complain about feeling old sometimes. That's because the art of complaining is a true mark of age. I can't help it. But there's something else that's better than a true mark or age- it's maturity.

Now I can go on about how maturity isn't sticking your pinky out as you drink a glass of fresh squeezed juice over your Eggs Benedict at brunch while perusing the New York Times Sunday Crossword. Frankly, that's just uppity. Or I can talk about how maturity isn't lengthy discussions about one's spawn's preference for Huggies or Pampers (that's just sad). Maturity is just one of those things that happens when you're too busy bitching. I can say I have had one of those rare moments of maturity over the weekend.

I had a friend that three years ago was one of my closest friends. My relationship with her caused me a lot of grief in nearly every area of my life, but I was still willing to be friends with her until one night over too many Crown and waters, she called me a murderer. See, I had told her about an abortion I had in law school. It had happened roughly 8 years earlier and was the best decision I could have made for a myriad of reasons. I managed to handle the situation with a great deal of maturity at the time and I have never regretted my decision. It was an imformed decision and was (and is) the best decision I could have made under the circumstances. I understand how some people might feel differently, but they're not me and this is not their body. I don't feel guilty about it and never have and that's saying something because I feel guilty if it rains. But this friend did her damnedest to make me feel guilty.

Anyhow, I told this friend and she (in my mind) committed the unforgiveable sin: she passed judgment on me. In all fairness, her little sister had just had one a couple of weeks earlier and she was upset. She's also a mother of two, it doesn't excuse her reaction. We're adults we're supposed to be able to check ourselves. All in all, we have completely different outlooks on things even if our backgrounds are fairly similar, but because of this one issue and the ensuing spat, we did not talk for almost three full years.

That was three years of dirty looks, rumor mongering and generally making all of our mutual friends and acquaintances feel like shit being around either of us either alone or in the same place. That was wrong. Of both of us.

Neither of us had a right to do that to the other and to innocent bystanders (like her kids, and our husbands). I had demanded an apology at the time and she refused. I guess it was the heat of the situation and the fact that neither of us is known for exactly backing down. In the end, she was the one to end the stalemate. She came up to me in a crowded bar one Saturday evening a few months back, drunk off her ass and feeling a bit nostalgic and plainly admitted she missed me. For me it was outta the blue because when I walked in, there was a moment of eye contact and then the angry, awkward, dismissive head turn as though the other person doesn't exist. I admit I was floored. I was floored because I missed our friendship too and because she was the bigger person to say something first. My only response was that it wasn't the time nor the place to hash shit out and I gave her my cell number to call me for a meeting.

Schedules being what they are in this day and age, we have only run into each other a couple of times for drinks with other people and had a couple of e-mails and calls mostly over her case against her ex. We hadn't had one of those down and dirty "let's get the shit out there and deal with it" kind of talks. We managed to have that talk Saturday night as our dogs sniffed each other's asses and my dog tried to be nice about her dog trying to mount him (Don't be gay, Sparky!).

The talk was nice because we were both pretty honest. I told her how badly she had hurt me with her comment and she tried to deny what and how it was actually said (different recollections due to too much booze I'm sure). She told me how hurt she had been at me for reacting the way I did (I didn't even try to kick her ass at the time but I spoke very angrily). And just as we were about to bury the hatchet completely, the old fight started to rear its head in the new form of who was right and who was wrong. So I had to do something to salvage the good will that results from multiple Tuaca and Yeager Blaster shots.

I said "Let's stop." Then I told her that I forgave her for hurting my feelings and that I understood why she was so upset at the time and that she was entitled to her feelings on the subject. Further, I told her although we might disagree, I respected her having the feelings she did and that I didn't have the right to make her feel bad even if I had the right to be angry by what I perceived as an attack on me. Her opinion deserved respect and I was sorry for not giving her (and her opinion) that respect three years earlier.

And I really meant it. WTF???

She does have a right to her heartfelt opinions. She has a right to express sadness and dismay at an unfortunate episode in my life. She just didn't have the right to do it in a way designed to inflict pain on me. And I didn't have the right, no matter how much hurt I felt, to spend three years talking trash, slighting her, destroying her social network and generally being an asshole.

There are a lot of things for me to be angry at her for, but for me that was the most serious offense. The rest of the shit, we'll just work out. But that big hurdle had to be met head on. I'm glad I didn't wuss out and avoid the conversation.

So that was my mature moment of the month (or year). They don't happen often, but I'm glad this one did even if for the moment.


Blogger Emptyman said...

If courage is "grace under pressure" then maturity is "equanimity about the shortcomings of ourselves and others."

(Yes, Hemingway's is better, but fuck, he's Hemingway.)

1:24 PM  
Blogger helen said...

With friends like that, who needs enemies??

8:04 AM  

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