“Our story is never written in isolation. We do not act in a one-man play. We can do nothing that does not affect other people, no matter how loudly we say, “It’s my own business.”
Lately I’ve been tired of some of my friends. Not all of them, mind you. Just a growing handful, and I can tell you exactly why.
Their feelings are destroying our friendship.
Well, their feelings and then my cynicism in response. But let’s not talk about me, let’s just focus on other people for a minute.
A couple months ago, my grandma died. I never publicly told anybody because even though she was family, we weren’t close and I didn’t want unnecessary pity. Death is an encounter with the Divine regardless of your religious beliefs, and with it comes a lot of weight. I was walking by the river at night, crying for no apparent reason and felt stuck.
Luckily, I had a weekend full of plans with my friends to look forward to. Friends I’d not told about my grandmother because I figured it would naturally come up in conversation.
Except that one by one, every last one of them (we are talking 3 days in a row and 6 plans) bailed on me. Some of the reasons were.. well.. reasonable. But for the most part, they were just excuses. It was “I don’t really feel like it.”
Deep within me something switched. I didn’t really feel like dragging around heavy thought bricks, but God kind of dumped those in the wagon I keep my emotional crap in. There was no “I don’t feel like dealing with this,” I just had to do it. So I did what I am the best at doing: I got really mad.
Had I told my friends that my grandma died and I just needed to be around people, I truly believe they would have rushed to be with me. I never thought I should have to do that.
Because my friends “didn’t feel like” hanging out, I carried a burden that should have been shared for a little longer than I should have had to.
We sometimes get so caught up in what we feel, what we want, what we think is best, that we forget to seriously consider how our decisions affect those around us.
Once when he was younger, Graham got really upset at us. I can’t remember why. But I remember sitting in his and Lauren’s room, and telling him about how his actions were like dropping a rock in a pond. His actions created a ripple, and he had the choice over what kind of ripple he started. When he was mean to Lauren, she was mean to me and I was mean to Emily who was mean to Graham, who was mean to Lauren… and suddenly that one solitary action created a sour, bitter wave in all of us.
Stacy told me once that shortly after we’d had that conversation, Graham was starting to get angry. Lauren looked at him and asked him “How’s your ripple?”
So in the realm of friendship:
How’s your ripple?