Disagreement Hurts Family Friendships
While Sallee and Ginny were sitting side by side on the sofa in the den one day looking at magazines and chatting Sallee asked, “Hey, Mom how come you never have Uncle James and Aunt ’Lizbeth over?” Only after the words were out of her mouth did she stop to hope that she hadn’t just asked a wrong question. “I don’t think I’ve seen Jilly in over a year.”
Before answering, Ginny pursed her lips together hard. Sallee flinched sure from her mother’s actions that she had asked a wrong question. Steeling herself for the rebuke she knew was coming, she got up from the sofa. “Where are you going? her mother asked patting the cushion where her daughter had sat. “Don’t you want to hear the answer?”
“Yeah, but— I thought maybe I shouldn’t have asked,” Sallee admitted as she sat back down.
Ginny smiled, “It’s a fair question. ‘Lizbeth and I had a disagreement. She was offended by something I did and told me so. I thought she overreacted and told her. Then, you know the rest.”
“That’s it? Because you didn’t agree on something?” Sallee asked while thinking, grown-ups are such babies. Then measuring her words precisely she asked, “It is okay to disagree with someone. Is it?”
“Absolutely, It depends on how, and how mature the people are who are disagreeing.”
Sallee shook her head, “Wait aren’t grown-ups mature? Isn’t that what it means.”
Ginny laughed, “What a wonderful world it would be if all grown-ups were mature. God knows, Sallee if you defined grown-up by the example I set you would hardly arrive at mature. Mature adults take responsibility for their actions. If they do something that hurts another person’s feelings they apologize. And they especially don’t hold grudges.”
“Didn’t you apologize?”
“I did. ‘Lizbeth seemed to have accepted it but has never spoken to me again. She probably doesn’t know what to say. I know I don’t know how to get beyond it since I can’t—”
“Have you tried to talk to her at all since?”
“I tried, but— you know friendship and conversation are alike in that they go both ways. You can’t be a friend to someone who doesn’t want to be, and you can’t talk with someone unless they reciprocate. I decided to let it be. Most of all, I’m sorry about Jilly, though.”
“How about Uncle James? He probably still talks to you, doesn’t he?”
“No, ’Lizbeth’s and my relationship was the only reason we ever saw James. I don’t think I’ll ever understand family. Even before, he was never very interested in me, or what went on in my life. Besides, I don’t think it helps that I don’t drink anymore. Since you know how much people hate change, right?” Sallee nodded thinking Boy, did I know!
“I hope that doesn’t happen with my sisters and brother. It would be sad.” Sallee mumbled while she contemplated how it could be possible that she and Gordy would not be life long friends.
“I hope it doesn’t either.” Ginny leaned over and gave her daughter a hug. I hope it doesn’t either; Ginny repeated silently as she wondered how she could make amends with ’Lizbeth.
Author Note: Do any of you have suggestions for how Ginny would or could help ‘Lizbeth let go of her hurt feelings? Do you have to let people work them out by themselves? Is there a way you help. In the novel I’m working on now, I have two characters who are working their way through hurt feelings due to circumstances beyond their control. Nevertheless, one character says she has forgiven her father but still nurses hurt feelings. Is that forgiveness? I would love some input on how that happens, what it looks like, and how it feels? How do you handle it when someone says they have forgiven you but won’t talk to you?