Monday, December 06, 2004

feeling small

I think I had a fight with my best friend. I'm not entirely sure, though. There was no yelling or screaming involved, no insults hurled, no slamming down of the phone. But things feel very strange to me, and I haven't called her and she hasn't called me, so I think we must have had a fight.

I love my best friend. We've been friends for 10 years. Like everyone else on this planet, we each have our faults. We accept those faults, help each other work on them, and try to overlook them as much as possible. But sometimes I can't. Or won't.

Best friend has a low frustration threshold. That means that she can go from hunky-dory to pissed off in about two seconds. This can happen in all sorts of situations. The most recent occurance was Friday night. We went out for dinner together and then headed back to my house. My husband and I had inherited a fake Christmas tree that was too big for our house, so we were passing it along. She was happy to get it, we were happy to get rid of it, everything was great.

So the three of us are out in the driveway trying to fit this very large box into her small car. We put the back seats down and tried to jam it in the trunk and through the small opening. There was just one corner that kept gumming up the works, no matter how we angled the box. I can see best friend starting to get ticked off.

"Maybe, " I venture, "we could put down the front passenger seat and..."

She cuts me off testily.

"That won't work... blah blah blah."

I don't even remember what she said after "that won't work." It felt like she had slapped me.

If it had been just the two of us, I would have said something. In an angry tone, no doubt. But because my husband was there, I didn't want to embarass her. So I did what any normal person would do and reverted to passive-agression.

I took a vow of silence and did not offer further help. I simply watched them struggle, and when best friend seemed to have recognized her rudeness, she asked, "So what was that you were saying about the front seat?"

Me: (silence)

I was really mad! I mean, I understand that people get upset. But letting your frustration and annoyance spill over onto other people is for toddlers, right? Mature people should deal with their frustration and not take it out on others. Especially when "others" includes her oldest friend, her friend's husband, and a Christmas tree that she was getting for free.

But maybe that's just me.

We all went back in the house. It was a while before I could even look at her. Later, when she said she had to go, I hugged her and told her to drive safely. But I couldn't fall asleep. I kept thinking about the way she'd snapped at me and I kept getting all riled up. So I crept downstairs to call her.

I was hoping to speak to her, but fully expecting to get voice mail on her cell phone. I thought she'd be asleep, so it surprised me when she answered.

I told her what had upset me, and she didn't seem to remember the incident at all. Which further upset me. Now, this is not the first time I've brought something like this to her attention. I have confronted her about it before. Sometimes she's recounted stories about workplace and family interactions, describing the "unbelievable" attitudes of these people. When appropriate, I've called her on that, too. "You know, if you hadn't said it like that, maybe she wouldn't have gotten so angry...", and so on. I guess I am just trying to explain that this wasn't an isolated incident that drove me to insanity.

So I gravely recounted what had happened.

Me: ...and before I could get five words out of my mouth, you cut me off and snapped that it wouldn't work.

Her: Um... okay...

Me: Do you not remember doing that?

Her: I guess I don't remember it like that... I mean, I think we were all frustrated...

(Not true. Hubby and I were merrily plugging along. In fact, hubby delights in trying to fit awkward things into cars.)

Me: When you talk to me that way... I really hate that.

Ever have that experience where you feel like you're observing yourself? If you watched the first season of The Appentice, I imagine I looked like crazy Sam when he got fired. Head bowed, eyes smoldering. And I'm not an angry, aggressive person, so I was surprised by the sound of my voice. Kind of strangled. And when it was apparent that she didn't have anything else to say, I said, "Okay then. Goonight." It was a strange experience.

I thought just getting it off my chest would make me feel better, but it didn't, really. I feel small. As a generally happy person, I prefer a world in which everything rolls along in relative peace and harmony. A rift with a friend or family member feels like a giant gash.

I debated with myself about this "fight". Is my anger less justified if she doesn't see what she did wrong? Or is it more justified?

I guess it doesn't matter if the end result is feeling




Anonymous jenny-bean said...

sorry to hear about your fight... fighting sucks. but hey, it has to happen sometimes. :-(

6:53 PM  

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