Unforeseen Consequences

Related to last month’s lesson about apprehension (the anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen) I wanted to write about another useless concern that most of us, including myself, hold on to at some point: fear of the unknown. I believe that this might be my lesson for this month.

Fear of the unknow can make us do crazy things as I have recently witnessed. My current roommate is a friend of mine who, having had to move out of her sub-let accommodation in a haste, needed a place to stay in a hurry. The length of stay was defined as ‘temporary’ as she has a part-time (shared custody) 7-year-old; who though I like immensely; I did not want to live with on any long-term basis. That was five months ago.

When my Korean friend, let’s call him Chan-neul (as I have in the book that I am writing about our meeting and development of our relationship) made the decision to come to Australia I asked my current roommate, if it was okay. She said “yes”. What I have discovered is that she meant “no”. Why she felt that she couldn’t say what she really felt I will never know, but I am guessing that it was the fear of my response, something that she had no idea about and probably expected the worst, and it was this fear of the unknown that constrained her.

In point of fact, if she had told me that she was uncomfortable about Chan-neul coming to stay at the time, I could have easily been able to arrange another solution for his accommodation. Instead she decided to blow up at me, (about a variety of unrelated issues which were more her stuff than mine) the day before his arrival with shouting and door-slamming (which I never respond well to – but then again who does?) I was particularly proud of myself that at the time, I didn’t say anything that I might later regret and managed to politely ask her to move out as soon as possible.

I am a particularly WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) person. My “yes” means “yes” my “no” means “no” and my “I’m not sure” is “let me think about that.” So, this has been an interesting lesson for me, reminding me that on matters such as these, I might investigate further and truly ascertain (as I am perfectly able to) whether yes really means yes. Interestingly I would note that we are all much more comfortable to challenge a ‘no’ to discover whether it really means no.

Though I am sad that both our living situation and our friendship have disintegrated past the point of repair, I am also strangely at peace with the situation. I do not want people in my life who can neither be honest with me, nor say the things that my former friend decided to tell me in the most non-constructive way.

When I used to tell her how sad I was when I lost touch with people, my grandmother used tell me that we have “friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime and never to mistake one for another.” I have been very blessed with many good ‘life-time’ friends, more than most people have. Part of my learnings this month has been to hold less tightly to all friends – the lifetime ones will stick around anyway.

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