10/29/2012 10:54 am ET Updated Dec 29, 2012

Don't Let the Friendship Boil Over -- Talk It Out

I'm trying to soothe my soul. It's been deeply hurt. I've also inflicted tremendous hurt on a person whose response in a Dear John email is that we are no longer friends and I am not to reach out to her again. She has cut off our 40-year friendship like a branch snapped off from a tree.

Actually, we met some 45 years ago in school and were close friends for about seven years. She then moved to the other side of the world, and we were in touch periodically, and then about seven years ago we reestablished ties and resumed a very close relationship.

I am one to look at my part, at my responsibility. I make no excuses; I did her a terrible injustice. She published a book and presented me with one of the first copies, and I did not read it. It's been more than a year since I've had it, and it still sits on my night table unread. I had told her I would read it in the summer, as I had many books to read for my five book clubs I was leading at work last year. But no, I still didn't "get to it."

After reaching out to her a few times via phone and email, as I was going to Israel to visit my daughter and family and wanted to make plans to spend time together, as we always do, I got no response. I reached out one more time and finally got what I wished for: a response back with an explanation. But what I certainly did not wish for was the shocking final statement, that we've come to the end of our relationship.

No space left for apology, discussion, argument. A cold turkey ending. Whew, this hurts. This will obviously sit with me for a long time, this sadness, this loss. The loss of someone who knows me so well: the history, the future travel plans, the laughter, the appreciation and gift of a friendship reignited -- all gone so suddenly.

I am guilty of causing a dear friend pain by not making time for her most meaningful and important accomplishment. I hurt her to the core. I accept complete responsibility. No excuses; I am wrong.

There were some other itemized points of wrongdoing on my part, but this was the last and most comprehensive -- the one that cut to the core.

I am a straight shooter and prefer to be told straight on what the problem is. I don't like BS, and I'd rather hear the truth, even if it hurts, than some nonsense excuse. I like to know where I stand. I certainly heard the truth, but the sudden death of our long-term relationship has me shaken and reeling.

I want to offer this: We all let things go, small hurts or injustices to one another. We don't want to bring up every little thing. We look away in our attempts to be benevolent, knowing we all have flaws and limitations.

But when something is brewing and starts to get in the way of feeling good in a relationship, or resentment starts to build, that's the time to speak up and air the problem. It's obviously not a place we necessarily want to go -- to bring up a discomfort or bad feeling -- but it beats the alternative of having something blow up in one's face and end up with nothing at all.

If something is starting to bubble up inside and the relationship is important to you, bring it up. Talk about it, argue about it, do something about it. But don't let it die. Relationships are what life is all about.

Relationships are easy when everything is sailing along smoothly. The real test is when trouble sets in, when misunderstandings occur, when wrongdoings occur, when mistakes are made, when hurts are inflicted. How do we handle it? What do we do with those difficult feelings? We can't be mind readers and we don't always know how our actions and words affect another person. We need to be open to telling and open to receiving. That's what makes for the authentic, meaningful and deep connections.

So please go out and tell your friend/important person what's bugging you, if it's a relationship you want to preserve. You might be surprised; it can bring in a whole new level of connection. When we're able to grow in healing, we grow in closeness.

For more by Harriet Cabelly, click here.

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