Showing up for yourself includes letting a friend know when they have hurt you. Easier said than done. Difficult conversations can be anxiety-producing, leaving an unspoken hurt to chip away at the relationship. As hard as it is to accept, even your dearest friends can say or do something that hurts you.
While the incident is like a blinking neon sign for you, it may not be on their radar at all. As easy as it would be for you to ignore the gaffe, your friend can easily repeat their mistake if they are unaware of its impact on you. Eventually, this person moves further down your list of friends to communicate with, or you blow up at them when you reach your limit. When you have built trust and know this insensitivity is out of character for your friend, it is easier to address it. There is more uncertainty with newer relationships.
Unfortunately, a careless comment could derail a potentially great friendship.
I homeschool my children. It is not a choice I made lightly, nor one I feel the need to defend to others. Just like any other choice we make, there are positive and negative aspects associated with the decision. If I lament about a challenge, it does not mean that I regret my decision nor feel a need to change course. If a friend shared that they were having a challenging year because of a child or teacher in the school, I wouldn’t reply that school is the problem. When someone is curious about homeschooling or my decision, I do not mind engaging in a conversation to help them understand what homeschooling is and isn’t while dispelling myths. However, I do not engage in interrogations with someone who is closed-minded about homeschooling for argument's sake.
Someone who makes a casual remark disparaging homeschooling is not likely to be invited to my inner circle. However, if this person has an open mind, the possibility exists. It depends on how much time I am able to invest in that relationship at the moment.
Have the conversation. Tell your friend how their comment or action impacted you and potentially your friendship. Let them know what you need. Their response will dictate how your friendship evolves, which is good. If they take ownership, apologize, and use it as an opportunity to grow, this relationship has a path forward. However, if they blow you off, insist you are being too sensitive, or pretend they don’t remember what you’re talking about- you could save time, energy, money, and pain by not investing in that relationship.
Recently, a friend shared how a comment I made hurt her. At the time, I had no idea what I said negatively impacted her. After listening to her, I apologized and explained what I meant. Not to excuse my behavior but to clarify how I could have better communicated. Listening to the impact of my words on someone I care for so deeply wasn't easy. Likewise, being vulnerable and sharing how a friend hurt you is not easy. Both are required to heal and move on healthily. Here’s to healthier relationships- of all varieties!