26 December 2011

Forgive and Forget

A few months back, a good friend said something that really offended me - it was a general statement based on her experience, but it is one of those things that when anybody heard it, they would think "how small minded of her".  What made that generalization even worse is that the group of people she generalized about was a group that I directly belong in - female managers.  When she said "I don't think women are good managers", I was so angry/shocked/hurt that I had to cut her off as she tried to explain why she felt this way.  I think that was wrong of me but I was on the edge of a) telling her off or b) storming out of the restaurant.

We haven't seen each other much since she made that statement, mostly because I have been avoiding her.  But I have been thinking about it a lot - why did she say this?  What made her say it again (since she had said this to me once about 5 years ago)?  How could she say this and think that I would not be offended?  Why had she not got past her bad feelings towards female managers after all these years?  It really was baffling.

We finally got together the other day for brunch.  I approached her to get together because I knew I didn't want to start 2012 with feelings of resentment towards anyone without them knowing it at least.  Things started off fine - we caught up on general things and by the time the food arrived I thought, ok, time to approach the subject.  I told her how hurt I was by what she said and how I could not understand why she would still think that way.  She apologized, but defended herself, saying that she always gives everyone an equal chance to make an impression and would never think that way without a good reason.  I said, regardless it isn't fair to lump everyone together and how can you know if you are giving someone a fair chance when you are coming into the relationship with that mindset?

Long story short...she apologized but was firm to point out that this is her experience. I appreciate the apology (and I told her this), but there are still lingering feelings of resentment there.  I'm finding it hard to let go of those feelings and move on.  Part of me thinks that perhaps we are just too different now to really understand each other's perspective anymore. I used to be able to give her the benefit of the doubt, but now it is getting much harder to understand why she feels the way she does about this, and lots of other things.

I suppose the best thing in this situation is to continue to remind myself that I have forgiven her for what she said and that isn't dependent on whether or not I understand or agree with her.  It is difficult but it is needed if I do want to salvage our friendship...which I guess is the next big question here.  Like anything in life, I suppose if our friendship is meant to be, it will last the test of disagreements and hurt feelings over time.  We will see what happens next.

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