Girl Drama and the power of Forgiveness
Conflict is inevitable, it happens for each of us daily, and whether we like it or not it can be a catalyst for long lasting change in our lives. Wouldn't it be great if we were able to be proactive and participate intentionally in that change? When we think of something as an opportunity, we get excited and hopeful. It makes it easier to move into a place of resolution through empathy and logic when we have a deeper understanding and our responses are not purely driven by our raw emotion. Emotional reactions alone tend to see rippling consequences: lost relationships and any number of missed opportunities for positive growth.
When I was in middle school I ended up being drawn quite deeply into what we called "Girl Drama". Through this experience I chose one friend over another. My friend, Niki, was who I rejected. We had been friends since kindergarten, and she had been one of the most important people in my life. In one moment of high conflict in my life, I made decisions that haunted me for years. It haunted her too, and our relationship became strained. We did later regain our friendship, though we ignored the rift that had been caused by our "Girl Drama" in middle school. It always haunted us in the back of our minds while we were carrying on with high school and college. When she was 26 years old, Niki was diagnosed with stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. It is an aggressive disease that she fought hard over the course of 2 years. During this time, we became even closer, and during one of my visits to her while she was in the hospital, I brought up the topic of our "girl drama" from middle school. We were both obviously uncomfortable talking about it again, and more regretful and hurt than we imagined that we would be, since, well, it had been 15 years! Nonetheless, I had my opportunity to apologize to her, and she was able to forgive me. It was a bigger weight than either of us thought it would be that had been lifted. And within that year, she died.
That I was able to have a final resolution and forgiveness from her was a valuable gift. I like to think that it was helpful for her too. I do know that we loved each other and felt good that we were able to say goodbye with more clarity about our love for each other. But we also lost some things in that 15 years of silence and avoidance. We lost the chance to know each other more deeply. To influence each other and be in community. I lost the opportunity to know her as an emerging artist, a fierce friend and vulnerable and genuine person. Not all was lost, we did reconnect. But I will never get back that time I lost with her because of a deeply and soley emotional reaction.
I began my career path working with teenagers, and when I became a mediator, I was again, drawn to working with teens and their peers. I did, in fact, become a professional in the world of "girl drama". It sounds funny to us as adults, but "Girl Drama" or any "teen drama" and how it's handled, creates deep beliefs and can have lasting impacts on our kids emotional growth and function in society. A big reason, that I realized later, for my draw to helping teens deal with their conflicts came from my own experience in middle school with Niki. If I had had the knowledge then that our conflict had been an opportunity to know each other more deeply, instead of being pulled apart, I would be an even more whole person today for knowing her.
Thank You Niki. I love you.