We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together
or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.
– Eleanor Roosevelt, The New York Times, October 15, 1960.
William O. Foss, First Ladies Quotations Book
It seems to me that one of the first things I lose in a relationship is talking to the other person. It doesn’t matter whether that person is family or a friend or significant other – the talking goes first.
Case in point, virtually every friendship I have ever had (and destroyed) has gone down the same path – we are the best of friends, do stuff together, talk on the phone often, sit around and talk, go to dinner and talk, talk, talk, talk. Then one day the other person does something or says something that hurts my feelings. Or, I say or do something that hurts the other person’s feelings. And instead of coming forward with the truth and tell the friend that I was hurt by what he or she said or to ask why that person is no longer talking to me, I, at first, ignore it – maybe it will go away. Sometimes the silence does and we go back to being besties.
But the silence between us that wasn’t explained never really goes away. It just gets buried under the desperate need to be loved regardless of the cost. And then one day, it happens all over again. Only this time the bitterness from the previous silence surfaces and we don’t come back together as friends so easily, if at all. Another relationship is thrown on the pyre and is sacrificed to self-preservation and silence.
But what would have happened if I had broken the silence with a question, “why are we not speaking?” What would have happened if I had been brave enough to confront my fear of rejection and ask my loved one what was the reason for the silence between us?
I can only ask the question for I have no answers. I can’t go back and fix what has been broken. I can make attempts to repair but do I want to? I was a different person then, so was my friend. Perhaps it was the cycle of our relationship and we simply grew apart. Perhaps it was the silence.
All I can do is take care with the relationships I have today – to not let silence intrude; to make sure the talking continues, no matter what. Have I grown enough, healed enough to risk being rejected? I hope so, but only time will tell.