She is one of those unique and very special people. You know the ones I’m talking about. One of those women who pleasantly surprises you with their warm and open nature. Nicole and I go way back. We met before Facebook, husbands, and children. I was a hair stylist at the time and she walked into my salon to get her hair done. It was an instant connection. She sat in my chair and as I worked on her locks, we belly laughed, we cried and by the time she left I was convinced that I had met my twin sister from another mister.
Years went by, she made the invitations for my wedding. I did the hair for hers. Babies were born and coincidently, we both gave birth to spontaneous boy/girl twins just one year apart. What are the odds? I moved away to Northern Virginia, and when we came back to Southern California, we happened to buy a house a few streets away from hers. Our lives seem to overlap without effort. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Nicole is the type of person that is just so incredibly brave. She lays her emotions on the table like she’s serving up a meal, and all at the risk of someone not liking it, but she does it anyway. I find that incredibly gutsy. She laughs at the darkness of life and trust me it has been pitch black for her at times. She is passionate, hilarious, and has a heart bigger than the ocean.
We are very close, but there was a time when we were not. Life was so ugly for both of us, that we had a major falling out. It was a few years ago, and honestly, I can’t remember what we were both so upset over, but we were. Looking back, it was never what we were fighting about that was the problem, it was that the two of us were simultaneously experiencing full blown anxiety. It was horrible. We both suffered and there were many ugly words exchanged. It was so bad that we removed any all traces of each other’s lives that we could.
There was one problem, though: our kids attended the same school. We were forced to see each other almost every day. We would avoid eye contact and honestly, dodge each other as much as we could, but it was near impossible. So many times I just wanted to call her and say, “please let’s just forget our past,” but I was convinced that she hated my guts and that we would never speak again. I was scared to approach her after all of the hurtful things that were said, but I never stopped thinking that it was possible one day.
Then that day came, quite unexpectedly. Let me back up a little, Nicole’s son suffered from cancer for many years. He is in remission, but for obvious reasons the topic of childhood cancer is not only important to her but also stirs up deep and dark emotions, so when another child at our school died of brain cancer, we were all devastated beyond anything you can imagine. It was a loss so deep that it shook us all to the core.
When you go to a child’s funeral, it will change you forever. Seeing a mother weep next to her child’s small casket is an image that will never leave me. I’m even finding it difficult to type this without a tremendous amount of sadness. Nicole and I sat near each other at the funeral and as the tiny casket came down the aisle, no words were necessary, our hands reached out for each other, and we wept. We hugged and sobbed. We forgave and understood. We connected with no words, simply love and emotion. When someone you love leaves this earth, the little things in life become completely insignificant. You realize what is important and the only thing we have is love and each other. Life becomes crystal clear.
Since that day, Nicole has bravely reached out to me many times. We have texted and reconnected on Facebook. We talk and laugh. We plan coffee dates and are coming around in each other lives again. The funny thing is, what I have noticed more than anything since reconnecting is how alike we are. How we laugh at the same things, how deeply we both feel the emotions of life, how our lives have overlapped in such an odd way. Sometimes when we have an argument we think we are so different from that person, when in fact, we are more alike than we care to admit.
It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. This year has been full of ups and downs, but one of the greatest “ups” was reopening my heart to my dear friend. Nicole has been an extraordinary gift this year. I know that not every split can be repaired, so I feel profoundly grateful that somehow, someway a little angel boy brought us back together again, but I do think with some effort it is very possible, so here is my advice if you’d like to try and repair friendship that has gone south.
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WRITE – The Holidays are the perfect time to make amends with loved ones, put the past behind us, and start anew. Sometimes the first step is the hardest. Pick up some pen and paper and write a heartfelt letter to your friend. Maybe you don’t send it right away, or maybe you quickly put in the mailbox before you change your mind, but there is something very therapeutic about writing down your thoughts and feelings. Tell the people you love how you feel.
TAKE A BREAK – “Everybody needs a little time away, I heard her say, from each other” -Chicago. I live my life in song lyrics, what can I say?! No, really, taking some time to let things cool off is a very good idea. For Nicole and I, that was two years. Sometimes, you need a LONG time, and that is perfectly fine. Other times, maybe just a few weeks or months.
IT TAKES TWO – You can reach out to someone, but if they are unwilling to do the same, then you may not be able to repair the friendship. I’m no expert, but I do know that it takes two to tango and if someone isn’t in the right place to forgive, then they won’t, plain and simple.
TAKE A RISK – Even though it takes two, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Like I said, write something from your heart, say you’re sorry even if you feel like you were right. Ask yourself this: “do you want to be right, or do you want your friendship back?” What’s more important, a friend or your ego? If the person means enough to you, then you can swallow your pride.
BE BOLD – Reconnecting might be very scary for you. You may think, “What if they reject me?” or “They probably hate me”? Well, they might, but better to have tried then to do nothing at all. If you write them a letter and they never answer it or write something horrible back, at least you know you’ve forgiven them and yourself for the past. If they do respond in a positive way, you are on the road to recovering your relationship.
TIME – Once you have reconnected, it might take some time for both of you to trust each other again. Take it slow and be willing to make yourself vulnerable. Be brave and put yourself out there. Forgive often and remember what is important.
DON’T MISTAKE A KITTEN FOR A LION – Now that you have a falling out in your history, you may overreact to things. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, so be willing to let go of the small stuff. Your friend is not there to make you happy and fulfill your every need, you are responsible for yourself. Just love her for who she is and, more importantly, love her for who she isn’t. Focus on what she DOES do for you not for what she DOESN’T. In Nicole’s case, she just needs to stop mistaking kittens for kittens… she has three. I joke.
HAVE FUN – If she’s the type of friend you can do this with… LAUGH. One of the things that I missed so deeply was the way Nicole could make me laugh. She is hilarious, makes fun of herself, has fun with me, and can totally take a joke. I need to laugh like some people need coffee. “Nic” is my morning cup of coffee with her witty banter.
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Have you ever had a falling out with a friend? Were you able to repair it?