The other night something happened that caused me to really put my “work” to work. A virtual friend of several years reached out to me on my Facebook Wall about something she was going through, and I responded with some advice I thought would encourage her.
Unfortunately, something that I said must have been misinterpreted, and, what was originally a conversation between me and her on my Wall was taken public on Facebook, where she tagged me in a post that was about “losing friends” as a result of a choice she made. When I first saw my name on the post, I was confused, as our conversation had nothing to do with ending our friendship. In fact, I had told her that I loved her and how I had always seen her as a loving person.
Confused, I reiterated my love and support for her, only to have her son post a very crude and foul response questioning my sincerity, as well as calling my work as a relationship coach into question. I don’t know her son and had no idea where the anger was coming from. I chose to excuse myself from the thread, as this is not the type of conversation or interaction in which I choose to participate. In spite of this, I saw that there were still nasty things being said in my absence.
I reached out to my friend privately and suggested we speak so that we could clarify any misunderstandings, as I know that what is written can sometimes be misinterpreted. No response. I told her I had deleted the post that she had put on my Wall (in case something I had said had hurt or offended her) and waited to hear from her. Again, no response.
I did, however, get another nasty private message from her son. I explained that she and I had been having a private conversation that it was misinterpreted and taken public. And, again, apologized if I had said something to hurt his mom. No response.
I won’t pretend that I wasn’t angry. I was. And I was hurt, too. I’m human.
I tried to shake it off, reminding myself that what they were thinking and feeling probably had more to do with what my friend is going through than it had to do with me, and that the feelings I had expressed were authentic. Still, it hurt that someone would think that I was being anything but loving with them. And having my integrity called into question bothered me.
As a coach, I sometimes have to say things people don’t want to hear. I do it with no other intention than to share what I feel will make a difference for them. And I always remind my clients and friends that I am coming from a place of love and standing in my commitment to them and their happiness. While I may not agree with someone’s choices, disagreement does not equal judgment. I believe that we are each free to choose what we feel is the right choice for ourselves. So, while I may not agree with you, I will not judge you.
After about an hour of feeling bothered, I realized that a lot of what I was feeling had to do with my own ego – wanting to be liked; not wanting to be questioned or seen in a negative light. So I began to let that go.
I spoke to my husband about what was going on, and, as I spoke, the hurt turned to anger. My husband, who has much thicker skin and is a lot less emotional than I am, told me to de-friend her and call it a day. I, on the other hand, wanted to mend the relationship, if possible. He got a bit frustrated and told me I had no need for negative people and people who clearly don’t know me enough to know that I always try to come from a space of love.
In the past, this conversation would have turned into an argument between him and me about how he was being judgmental and unreasonable and just trying to step in and “fix it,” rather than just letting me vent. However, I’ve learned to listen to the message behind his words – his “heart message” – and what I heard loud and clear was: “I love you and I don’t want anyone to hurt you.” In his way, he was standing up and defending me. And I love him for it.
As soon as I got how much my husband loved and wanted to defend me, a space of compassion opened up for me regarding my friend’s son! For whatever reason, something I said had been misinterpreted and my friend was hurt. Perhaps she felt I was judging her. I hope not, but she mentioned feeling that she had to explain her choice in her post. So, perhaps she shared her hurt feelings with her son, and, because he loves her, he felt the need to defend and protect her, too. As much as I disagree with the way he went about doing so, by bringing compassion to the situation and to him, I was able to let go of the “residue” of resentment that was growing in my heart and hear his heart message for his mom.
I don’t know whether my friend and I will ever speak again. I hope we do. I pray that she is able to get through this part of her journey surrounded by those who love her. I’ve apologized. There’s nothing more I can do, except send love and light her way.
No matter what happens, I am so thankful for this lesson learned, this work, the skills and principles we teach, and that I was able to use them both within and outside the relationship with my husband to let go of pain and resentment and bring peace and love back into my heart.
Because, in the end, peace and love are what this work – our work – is all about!
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