I read a post over at Mumof4 ‘s blog this morning which essentially is about feeling let down by a friend. And it got me thinking about different perceptions of situations and how people can interpret things very differently from each other, which can lead to misunderstandings and, sometimes, to the end of friendships.
Mumof4’s post struck a particular chord with me, as I am currently in a situation which could potentially be suffering from this problem. I’ve written about my friend Jane before – her husband died recently from a brain tumour, and his funeral took place last week.
Jane and I worked together around 16 years ago, and became close friends for a period of two or three years – we lived in each other’s pockets and socialized together a lot.
But we were always ‘girly’ friends – we never did the couples thing very well together once we’d both got married, as our husbands didn’t really have anything in common (and her first husband was, quite frankly, a bit of an oddball!)
So gradually, over the years, we saw less of each other. Unfortunately, William didn’t get on well with Jane’s daughter, who was two or three years younger than him, so once we’d had kids, we saw even less of each other.
Jane subsequently divorced the oddball, met a new partner, moved further away and then remarried last summer. However, we have kept in touch over the years, and have met up for lunch or coffee two or three times a year to catch up on each other’s news.
In my previous post about Jane, I wrote about how her mother was diagnosed with cancer just after her husband’s terminal diagnosis last summer, and subsequently died last November. Paul, Jane’s husband, died three weeks ago.
I’m slowly getting to the point of this post – bear with me – which is that I haven’t actually spoken to Jane since before Paul’s terminal diagnosis. And Jane could have interpreted this as a horrific lack of support, failure of friendship, etc.
I sincerely hope she hasn’t, but I can see how this could be the case.
From my point of view, the situation is the following:
Jane and I have a friend in common, Anna, who we both see more often than we see each other. I have relied on Anna for news of Jane over the last year or so, rather than bothering Jane direct. I know Jane and Paul both have big families, and they also have a huge circle of friends and acquaintances, and I felt Jane would have enough to deal with, without me (a friend who she’s seen only a handful of times over the last few years) phoning for news – I thought it might be seen as pestering.
I have, however, text Jane on several occasions, telling her that I’m thinking about her and her family, and hoping she’s OK, etc etc. I also sent a sympathy card/letter when Paul died.
I didn’t go to his funeral, as I’d only actually met him once to speak to, and I didn’t feel that it was appropriate. Over 300 people attended, which is testament to what a popular and well-liked man he was.
So … what could be perceived by Jane as a lack of contact and support from me, has actually been for all the right reasons as far as I’m concerned – the course of action I’ve chosen to take has been taken with the very best of intentions.
However, I can see that it could be open to misinterpretation, and I really hope that this isn’t the case.
I am planning on phoning Jane later this week, to chat, offer my condolences now the funeral is over and the dust has settled a little, and see if she’d like to meet up for coffee. And I’ll be honest, I’m dreading it a little bit.
I really hope we haven’t got our friendship wires crossed.