Over the years, I have dealt with a family situation that is less than ideal. And, for a long time, I wasn't aware that my family was any different than any other family. Under the age of 5, my world was confined to my immediate family and my exposure to the outside world was very limited. It wasn't until I was placed in the social situation of school, that I started to see different families and recognized that my family was very different. Although I love my parents, they made it extremely difficult to like them. My father has struggled, battling the bottle for as long as I can remember and my mother had no coping skills often relying on medication to escape. Things were very volatile in my household and being an only child made an already awful situation, worse. As a child, I was very shy and introverted spending my days with my nose in a book. I never struggled to be heard, I never demanded their attention, I never felt that I was worthy, and I never thought it mattered. Through all of this, the one skill I did develop was the ability to avoid confrontation...no matter what. Even if something was important to me, I found it easier to give in and give up. When things became unpleasant, I would search for peace never considering that I could fight back. After years of therapy and life, I have learned to stand strong, speak up and demand nothing less than what is best for me. However, even with all this progress, I still have issues with confrontation.
Recently, a friend came to "confront" an issue. He is married to one of my best friends and has become a dear friend to me as well. His wife and I were friends for years and became very close following my separation and divorce from my husband. We were inseparable and took complete joy in each others company. I even introduced her to her husband. At the time, we had both met and fell in love with amazing men. As with any of us, when we fall in love and create a life with someone, our priorities shift and ultimately, things change. It would be impossible for us to retain the type of friendship we had before because we were both making room in our lives for others. I found myself continuing to call my friend but started to realize that I was calling more and she was calling less....based more on my perception and less on reality. To be honest, I came to the conclusion that she had less time and space for me in her life. I couldn't blame her, he made her so very happy and they wanted nothing less than to spend as much time with each other as possible. It was around this time that my mother's health took a turn for the worst and I found myself dealing with my father alcoholism as I tried to better the situation for my mother. Time started to pass and the communication between my friend and I became less and less frequent. I was slipping into old patterns and as more time passed, the more paralyzed I became to confront the situation between us. Eventually, I communicated mostly with her husband since he and I work together. I know someone was waiting to talk about the "pink elephant" in the room, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I feared the possible rejection...I missed her terribly and at a time in my life where our friendship could mean the difference between a good day and a bad day, I felt as though the time to say something had gone by and I could only blame myself.
It has been 3 years since the gulf started to spread and I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone to share a tidbit of gossip, a story, a laugh or even a good cry. Things have started to settle down again. After a long illness, my mother passed away last year and I can now focus on the things that I have procrastinated about. I still don't like confrontation, but I know that if someone is important enough to you, sometimes you have to stare down the beast. I don't want another day to go by with the knowledge that things could be different and that I did nothing to affect change. Of course, my confrontation of choice will most likely be a letter. Is it still confrontation if it's not done in person? I never said that I wouldn't "tweak" the idea of confrontation, did I?