Oy Vey! Have I Got a Problem

Oy Vey! Have I Got a Problem

Rachel Stein offers advice to a reader whose friendship of 20 years is in jeopardy.

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

Dear Rachel,

My world just crashed, and I’m trying to make sense of the maelstrom that upended my life. As a mature adult, I thought I knew how to navigate relationships and their inevitable ups and downs. And although I’ve had my struggles with my nearest and dearest, I had one constant that was reliable, predictable and wonderful – my best friend of more than 20 years. Our friendship withstood the test of time and distance. She moved across the country, yet we still spent hours together on the phone every week. Our conversations were laced with depth and meaning, and there were no barriers between us. We shared our most intimate thoughts and issues, advised and empathized with each other, and laughed and cried together. The relationship was a two-way street. Sometimes she was up and at other times, I was. My daughter might not be speaking to me, my boss might have criticized me sharply, but I always knew that Melissa was there and I could count on her.

There were times when we couldn’t speak, like when we had visiting family or if one of us was traveling. But there was comfort in knowing that she was waiting for me, and we would catch up and slide right back to where we had been.

We had an honest relationship. Melissa told me when she thought I was making a mistake, and I did the same for her.

The other night, we had a text conversation, and she got insulted by something I wrote. She reacted sharply, and I completely misunderstood her connotation. She didn’t say outright that she was hurt; she simply rebuked me. Confused by her criticism when I had simply shared my feelings, I called her on it. And only later, when I was sitting in a class and unable to concentrate because our squabble was occupying center stage in my mind, I suddenly understood why my comment had offended her.

Even before I got home, I called and apologized profusely, explaining that I had never intended to hurt her and hadn’t realized I was stepping on a nerve or I would have never said what I did. I spoke to her voicemail; she would not pick up the phone. I tried calling again and apologized again with utmost sincerity, both on her answering machine and via text. I told her I misunderstood what she said and would never knowingly hurt her, and that I felt terrible for causing her pain. Her silence was long, loud and excruciating.

I’m turning to you, Rachel. Any advice?

Sincerely, I Lost My Best Friend


Dear ‘I Lost My Best Friend,’

I can only imagine the pain you’re feeling, and I’m so sorry. It sounds like an emotional earthquake. The ground was rock-solid beneath you, and suddenly, with an earsplitting crash, it cracked and destroyed your foundation.

How I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix the problem for you. I’m sure you wish you could retract your stinging comment, and that all would revert to the way it always was. Alas for texting; texting should be illegal when discussing real issues! There is so much room for misunderstanding. Had this been a real conversation, I imagine it could have been resolved so much easier.

It sounds to me like you’re on the right path. You’ve given a heartfelt apology. Maybe Melissa just needs time. Maybe she has other things going on that are contributing to her increased sensitivity.

Perhaps you can wait a few more days and try again. And if she is still unwilling to hear you, to forgive and resume your beautiful relationship, you may have to figure out how to move on. We all need that confidante; it makes life that much richer and more meaningful.

You’ve loved, you’ve trusted, and now you’re broken.

Turn to G-d and pour out your pain. He is your Father and He loves you. Turn to someone else you trust and share what you’re going through. Journal, walk, play soothing music, allow yourself to grieve.

Your relationship may fuse back together, and then you can move on. But if Melissa doesn’t accept your overtures, I wish you strength. May you discover other rich and satisfying relationships that will bring you lasting comfort, friendship, understanding, and love.

What a painful situation. I really hope it can be resolved and that ultimately, your friendship will become even stronger.

I will be thinking of you and praying for you.

All the best, Rachel Stein 

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