Unnecessary Mediating

I wasn't going to admit the following, but you all love me, right? This post was inspired by my watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta. This isn't the first otime, but you know... sometimes you have to ask yourself why what inspires you, inspires you... that's another post.

Nene and Sheree and Nene and Kim aren't friends anymore. They used to be, but after a fight between them (one with Nene and Kim, the other with Nene and Sheree), they no longer see the point in direct association (hard to do when you're on the same tv show, but not my problem). If you don't watch the show, that's ok, this is all you need to know to understand where I'm going.

At dinner a well-intentioned, but nevertheless annoying, Mama Joyce (a pseudo-cast mate, mother to a real cast mate) first lectured the ladies about their continuing to not speak, and then insisted that they each speak to each other. I assume Mama Joyce has to at least know what I know about why these women are no longer friends, but I'm willing to bet she knows even more information than I, the casual viewer, does. So it begs the question: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU WOMAN?

I have so been here before. Both places, actually. The well-intended mediator and one of the parties needing mediation. I can say, with relative ease, that a good general rule of thumb is to just mind your own business. I'm reading a book right now called Odd Girl Out which examines the ways girls bully each other and the role popularity can play into it. According to this book (and as I know from my own life and observations) being the middle girl can actually be a pretty powerful spot and I think sometimes when we aim to be in the middle it's partly a power play. We want to be able to say we fixed this hole; but what if the hole is actually a crater?

In high school I had 2 good friends. Sometime early in our senior year, one friend decided she no longer had use for the other friend. It was actually relatively bloodless. There was no fight, no rumor-mill, no drama. Friend 1 just decided, on her own, that she no longer would speak to Friend 2.

This was fine, except the three of us, nicknamed the Three Musketeers by our friends and teachers, almost literally spent every free moment together, especially at school and we even had a class together. The tension of them not speaking, mixed with the pressure of Friend 2 wanting me to get intel on what was going on caused me to first withdraw from them. In the class we shared, while normally I would cycle between them at the adjacent tables they'd chosen as "theirs" early in the year, after this impromptu dismissal, I took to sitting in the back of the room by myself or up at the teacher's desk (I'm a liberty taker...)

That worked fine for about a week, but after a week, I'd had enough and I wanted some answers, too. I kept telling Friend 2 that we would get it figured out -- I had hoped time would shake loose the issue but when it became apparent that wouldn't work, I got active. First I asked Friend 1 to stick around after school one day and showed up with Friend 2 hoping I could leave them alone and let them talk. When I returned 20 minutes later, I found Friend 2 alone. She said Friend 1 had been fairly short with her saying she had nothing to say and then left.

About a week after that, I tried again, having Friend 2 call me while I was at Friend 1's house and then handing Friend 1 the phone. Friend 1 stepped into another room, took the call and less than 5 minutes later returned. When I spoke to Friend 2 she said that again Friend 1 said she didn't have anything to say, there was no beef and hung up.

I had some business in this relationship, as it effected my own with each of them, but I really shouldn't have stuck my nose so far into it. Friend 1 was a major asshat for how she went about the whole thing, but I put Friend 2 in several really awkward situations without a real plan. Much like Mama Joyce, I unintentionally made things worse when no one really asked me for my help. I guess I was too afraid to confront Friend 1 about the issue, but either way I needed a stadium of seats. Who was I to dictate who needed to be friends and how a friendship could end? The largest of missteps I made was making it about me. I was uncomfortable, I wanted things like they were, I wanted everyone to get along and not one time did I actually ask either girl what she wanted. In the end, Friend 2 didn't really want to be friends again as much as she just wanted to know what happened. All of my efforts were truly in futility.

During her nose-shoving, Mama Joyce told the women several times that she wished they'd just go back to how they used to be. Oh how that grinds my gears.

I immediately went back to the summer after I graduated from high school. Much like she summarily dismissed Friend 2 the previous year, Friend 1 summarily dismissed my ass after we graduated. I would tell many people, that summer and into the first year of college, that I don't know why I watched her do this to Friend 2 and never considered she'd do it to me, but I did. Call it being young and stupid, or maybe being overconfident, I don't know, but there I was, the summer after high school when I thought I'd be living up the last few months of not-adulthood with my closest friends from high school, only to actually spend a lot of time alone. Sure, I had other friends and I definitely saw them, but many of my close friends, the ones with whom I wanted to reminisce on high school with, the ones I'd spent so much time with the previous 9 months, if not 5 years, felt sides had to be chosen and they chose her side. Even the friends I brought to our friendship. It hurt.

And on top of all that, dealing with what it means to lose a friend so suddenly and without warning, and worrying about how I would adjust to college, the ones who WOULD talk to me only wanted to talk to me about what I needed to do to make it right. "Why can't you guys just go back to the way things were?" I never asked anyone what it was she was saying about me -- part of me didn't want to know, and part of me knew it didn't matter. But whatever they were being told made them believe that I had the power to fix it. I had no power. She had determined when our friendship began and then she decided when it ended. I wanted us to go back to how we were, but why was it my responsibility to get that ball rolling?

What probably aggravated me most was that whether these individuals had been told what happened, or not, they didn't think enough of the situation to ask me what my side of it was. No one asked me "what happened" everyone just said some version of "fix it" or "go back to the way things were..." as if our beef -- if you can call it that -- had some long term effect on their lives. I was dealing with the loss of what I thought had been a pretty good friendship, only to find out that it had never been a real two-way friendship to begin with.

All this ranting begs the question though: if you've got two friends fighting, don't you owe it to them to try to mend broken relationships? Yes. Yes you do. If you think it's reparable and you think you're the one to get that done, get in there. But I caution you to be sure that you're not wanting them to mend the relationship for you -- it sure is a lot nicer for you when your two friends aren't beefing, or are still friends, but if that's not what's best for them, you can be sure it won't be what's best for you in the long run.

Plus, people change. They really do. And sometimes the changing leaves one or both parties confused about how to move forward and the lack of social skill or knowledge causes one to just drop it. If you're not really talking to them about what's going on in their head, there's no way you can know how reparable a situation is. If they've both become people the other doesn't want to be around, then you can't force that. It's tantamount to trying to force two magnets of the same charge to be anywhere near each other: a true effort in futility.

And as for situations you're not even in? Honey, leave that be. Especially if you're talking about grown folks. For two people to repair their relationship, there has to be two willing parties and if you don't even have any skin in that game, you will most likely NOT be the impetus for that willingness.

I have, since high school, had a couple of other friendships between two people I was close to end (that is, they weren't friends, but I continued to be friends with both). Continues to be an awkward situation, especially if one of them pretends like nothing has changed. The one thing I've stopped doing is even wishing in my own head that things would go back to they way they were. Everything isn't meant to be stagnant and that's ok.

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