Fresh starts. September is a time of new beginnings with school and crisp weather, January with New Years, the month of April welcomes spring. New beginnings in friendship can happen at any time of year, in any season. Our last few posts have dealt with elements of a friendship that might call for a fresh beginning, including a wrongdoing or hurt feelings that call for forgiveness and moving forward. There are a few ways that we might make fresh starts in friendships:
- after a wrongdoing or betrayal
- making a new friend
- making a new friend after losing a friend
- learning to trust again
- breaking out of the same ‘ole, same ‘ole
As I began writing this post, the “learning to trust again” line stuck out to me. Whether this is with a new friend or an old friend, trust is an element that softens a relationship. Without trust, interactions and words seem to collide in both small and big ways, sort of banging together while one or both people try to protect themselves.
No Stranger To Pain
We have all been hurt. We have all hurt someone else. At times we focus more on how others have hurt us, and gear up for protecting ourselves from others in a “once bitten twice shy” manner. As Jonalyn described in her vows post, we sometimes plant ourselves firmly in a determined place, declaring “that” will never happen again!
In the book Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No to Take Control Of Your Life, Cloud and Townsend compare emotional and relational boundaries to a fence. There are all types of fences – scary barbed wire ones, chain link, white-picket, stone walls…. As women we learn different ways to build protection around us, and some of us end up with heavily guarded fortresses signaling “Enter at Your Own Risk” or run-down yards with an “All Are Welcome” feel.
Is there a way to balance a new beginning to find a way to border your “property” with appropriate fencing, allowing you to let trustworthy friends in and keep more difficult relationships in their proper location, further away from the sweet spots of your life.
Reconciliation & Trust
Reconciliation in a relationship has a lot to do with trust. In relationships, we might decide to reconcile with someone who has hurt us (or whom we have hurt), or we might decide that the relationship is better if over. In one of my favorite books about health and relationships, Everett Worthington notes about forgiveness and reconciliation that “Reconciliation is restoring trust in a relationship in which trust has been damaged. Reconciliation requires both people to be trustworthy…Reconciliation is interpersonal. It is not granted but earned.”
Learning to trust in a relationship requires the knowledge that “The other person can talk back, bring up times when you inflicted hurt, push your buttons and provoke you to a blind rage. But the other person can also be accommodating, contrite, remorseful and loving. How you both act will determine the future of the relationship.”
How to rebuild trust with a friend or in women in general?
- Work through steps of forgiveness where necessary
- Decide whether this is a relationship to reconcile
- Watch the clock (not moving too fast, not waiting too long) – allow for healing but not hardness
Ways to Reconcile:
- Stop hostilities – decide to move forward and put the decision into action (e.g. bury the hatchet, agree to disagree)
- Come together – get together, plan an activity, enjoy a meal together that includes good conversation
- Keep Forgiveness As An Option (sometimes we have to “re-forgive” if old hurts come up…forgiveness can be a process!)
- Be positive – most hurt people have a wounded ego or wounded pride (that is what most of our energies go toward protecting)…smooth wounds with positive words (e.g. I really love that you…It means a lot to me that you are the type of friend that…You are so great at…)
Building A Bridge
Rebuilding trust between two people is a process; most of us are familiar with the phrase “trust is earned”. Working toward reconnection through building trust allows two people meet in the middle. In other words, if one person does all the work, it is not much of a relationship.
- Decide to reconcile
- Discuss what has happened
- Detoxify (work through negative feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment)
- Devote yourself to valuing the new beginning (e.g. not having one foot in the past while trying to move forward)
Whether starting fresh with a new friend, adjusting to the loss of a friend that moved or changed, or reorienting to life after the let down of a break-up ,there is a place for your love and devotion with another friend, space for you to let someone in and give trust another go-around.