Monday, February 10, 2014

Second Chances and Restoration

Today, something really, really awesome happened.  At least, it was really, really awesome for someone who values relationships as much as I do.

I am going to try to tell the story as clearly as I can without using names, because who is involved isn't important, and I don't want anyone to feel like they're being called out should they ever see this post.

There's this person that I was friends with back in spring 2012.  We'd known each other for a few months when that semester started, but that spring, things changed big time.  We were part of clubs, actually executive board members of them, led by people that really didn't get along with each other, yet we still tried to maintain the friendship we'd formed.  But it wasn't easy because our club-mates/other friends disliked each other so strongly.  So I was left with my club-mates, also people I considered friends, on one side telling me that this friend and the leader of his club were trying to divide us and separate me from my loyalty to the club, and I had my friend on the other side telling me that my club-mates were exploiting my loyalty to them to try to make me hate him just because they did.  After several months, and the mess of it all following me all the way to DC, I finally picked a side.  Because I had come to truly believe that my friend was the bad news my club-mates, one in particular, had been telling me that he was, I told that friend never to talk to me again.

Fall of 2012 was good...I didn't see that friend or any members of his club...until I got removed from my position as a leader of the club.  The executive board got completely changed, and the two that I had come to trust the most, the club president and VP, stopped really participating in the club, as well.  I saw the president in passing throughout 2013, and though I had one class with the VP, we rarely spoke (though when we did it was cordial), but I never saw my old friend at all.  Not once in the entire year of 2013.  The president, though, slowly became everything he once said he hated.  He's now practically best friends with the guy who ran my friend's club...who also played a big part in our friendship ending.  His cockiness and inability to listen to anyone, no matter how much they care about him, has completely turned me off to him.  I even deleted him from my Facebook and Twitter, which, if you know me, is a lot because I rarely do that to people I know.  In seeing how easily he blew me off as he got some statewide power, and began to only hang out with people who either boosted his ego or could help him get somewhere career-wise, I realized just how obvious it was that I'd made the wrong choice.

Fast forward to this semester, and my old friend showed up in one of my classes, adding it on the first day.  I didn't know how to respond or interact with him, simply because it'd been so long since we'd seen each other and things left off on such a bad note, so I just tried to play it by ear.  Nothing major happened, but something in me still assumed that that bridge was burned and I should just be thankful that we could be civil toward one another.

Last Monday, though, I had a seizure in the class that we have together.  It was about 15 minutes before the class started, so he was one of few in there.  I wasn't sure how he was going to react, quite honestly, because I had no idea what he thought about me after everything that had happened.  But he helped.  I knew I wanted to thank him, but Wednesday he came into class late.  Thursday evening at dinner, Summer and I talked about this guy and everything that had happened between us.  She told me that she thinks he's a much different/better person now, and Summer isn't the first person to have told me this.  I told her I wanted to apologize, but I wasn't sure how he would take it and if it would be a good idea or if it would just cause another issue.  She told me that it couldn't hurt for me to try, and she was right.  And I really did feel awful for all the stupid things I said to him and the mistakes I made, so I knew I needed to say something.  But Friday, I obviously wasn't there.  So Saturday, I sent him a message on Facebook (not how I wanted to do it, but I wanted to get it out there before I chickened out).  He still hadn't responded by class this morning, so I was a bit worried that he hadn't taken well to it or/nor believed me.

But here's what actually happened.  At the end of class, I stood up to grab my bookbag off the back of my chair, and since he only sits two seats over from me, he looked up and said, "Hey Mal, how's it goin'?"  I looked at him and just said, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"  He said sure, and we stepped out in the hall.  He told me that he had indeed read my message, but he hadn't responded because he was out of town, so it was just nuts, which I totally understood.  The conversation we had was just really, really sweet.  We sort of talked out how everything went wrong.  We both apologized for all the stupid things we said and did.  We discussed how much we've both changed since we got away from the "friendships" that actually turned out to be the toxic ones.  I could tell he is definitely a much more mature and levelheaded person than the guy that I knew two years ago, and I think that he could say the same for me.  I told him about what it felt like to have him on one side trying to convince me of one thing, and my club-mates on the other telling me the exact opposite, and that I had to make a choice, and I simply made the wrong one.  We both got played by the people we chose over each other.  And when I left to go to lunch, he gave me a hug and asked me if I was doing better.  Just like the friend I was used to just a couple years ago.

All of that is to get to the lesson I found in it.  Sometimes I think friendships are ruined, that the bridges are completely burned to ashes, but that isn't always the case.  Second chances are hiding in places I don't expect to find them, and awesome things can happen when I am willing to just step out, swallow my dang pride, and admit that I made a mistake.  That apology was long overdue, and I'm glad that I did it, even if he hadn't responded.  But I'm way more thankful for the redemption that comes with second chances.

And I'm really, REALLY thankful that a friendship the both of us missed seems to now be restored.

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