Story on Confrontation

City: Los Angeles

Industry: Design

I needed to be by myself. She wasn't getting it.

A few months ago, I went on a solo road trip to learn more about myself and life, hang with friends and become one with nature. When I returned, I needed a lot of alone time to integrate the experience. My friend, S, really wanted to hang out and kept hitting me up, but I needed to be by myself. She wasn't picking up what I was putting down and continued trying to make plans. This pushed me further away.

S was hurt and wanted an explanation. I didn't want to give it to her; I just wanted my space. Feelings of anger arose ā€“ anger that my friend was trying to pin me down, anger that she needed more than what I wanted to give. I began to spin out. Isn't it nicer to have an invisible boundary than to confront the situation?

I traveled for the next month without talking to her. I kept getting the urge to call her but pushed it down. A week after I returned, I met with her. I told her everything I was feeling. She helped me understand what she was feeling too ā€” the more she felt me pull away, the tighter she held. The tighter she held, the more I pulled away. S told me it was an instinct, almost a primal one, to keep her tribe close. She began to explain things about herself with a level of self-awareness most therapists don't even have. I looked at her with so much love and admiration. I wished I'd come to her sooner. Why was I so hellbent on avoiding her?

I realized my fear for confrontation. Fear that my feelings would not be validated; that they'd be met with anger. That I'd be made to feel like a bad friend or crazy for needing my space, like I have in many past lovers' quarrels. If Iā€™d confronted her right away it wouldn't have festered though; I would have known quicker where our friendship stood. In this case with S, I would have realized the strength of it.