Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

The Angry Friend

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 22, 2011

Claire, sixty, calls her girlfriend Shai, opening the conversation with “you didn’t call me back.” Shai did not know that she owed Claire a phone call and besides that, she was annoyed at the hostility directed at her. They had a short conversation, followed by Shai calling Claire back and opened the conversation with  “I felt like you scolded me.” Claire, completely taken aback, says “what are you talking about? I thought you were going to call me back and you did not and so I called you.” Shai, knowing that she did not say she would call Claire back said “well, first of all you did not listen to me when I told you I was not going to call you back. Second, it is hard on me when you start a conversation in such a hostile tone.” Claire, again, shocked by this discussion continues to be defensive, “gee, I don’t know how else to put it. You did not call me back and I thought you would.” Shai, amazed at Claire’s lack of social skills, says “the problem is your tone is very hostile.” The conversation took a major shift. Claire replied, “I do feel angry that people don’t respond to me, but I did not know I was expressing that in the phone conversation.” Shai, immediately warmed up to Claire. “I can certainly understand how bad it feels not to be responded to.” Shai has now changed from feeling contempt for Claire, to very bonded with her feeling that she is dangling in the world without a feeling of being important to someone. By the end of the conversation, Shai and Claire were really glad they were friends. Shai ended the conversation by saying “it is so nice to be able to be real with someone. Most of the time, I just suck it up when someone hurts me, but you and I have been friends so long, I did not want to carry around this resentment. I am really glad I called you back.” Claire agreed heartily. Once again, anger was a passing stage from a bond almost breaking to a bond deepening.

2 Responses to “The Angry Friend”

  1. Shelly said

    If Claire and Shai didn’t have such a deep, understanding relationship, their friendship could have ended quickly based on this phone call. We are very quick to dismiss each other and judge based on how other people make us feel. It is rare to take the time or trouble to discuss what is really going on in a relationship and make it last. When people have long-lasting friendships, they are worth the fight.

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