I'm feeling very sad because my dear friend "J." and I are on the outs again. A couple months ago she did something that made me angry, disappointed and deeply hurt. She posted something on facebook that was against my favorite presidential candidate. I didn't like it, but would have shrugged it off as just her opinion, had she not tagged me in a comment in a very hurtful way that implied that now I was going to have to admit she is right and to hate my candidate like she does. I thought that was very underhanded and dishonest, and told her that if she has an issue with me like that she should just address it to me personally, in private message, on the phone or whatever. It was embarrassing to me to be tagged like that in a "gotcha now!" way. I told her I was very disappointed and no longer felt I could trust her to be respectful of my boundaries, my right to be a separate person and have different opinions from hers. That as of that moment we were no longer friends and would have to start over from square one. I asked her not to call me or come over to my place, and to return my key, and that I needed some distance until we had things sorted out.
She apologized saying she didn't mean it to be personal (so why did she tag me like that?) and seemed very contrite. Said she was done with politics, candidates and the election because it was not worth it. I told her that it really isn't about politics, which is just the topic that triggered the incident, but about the issue of boundaries, and that I hoped she would not continue to feel she could not talk about politics on facebook.
We have been communicating by fb messenger and things seemed to be getting better, but I was still wary and not sure she "got it" why I felt as strongly as I did. Back when this all started I realized that there was something else, also involving boundaries, that I had needed to say for a long time, but had avoided because I was afraid it would start a fight (meaning that she would rant and rave while I clammed up, just like it was with my ex, and my mother before that). She does not like immigrants or Somalis or Muslims especially ,and is often very angry at them because she has to deal with some at work (customer service) who think they should be able to order women around. I understand the anger at bad behavior of individuals, but it offends me when she makes it about their religion or nationality or immigrant status or the fact that they don't know much English. So I decided that if we are to be friends again that I would at some point tell her how I feel about her saying those things and ask her to please not do it in my presence anymore.
Anyway things seemed to be getting better and J. has been very worried about her (adult) daughter's illness that could be very serious. She said she really needed to talk to her friend, meaning me. So I said why don't you call me tomorrow, because it was late. Then I got to thinking about something else she said that I had thought was about dealing with these difficult customers, so I thought that topic might come up, and I needed to set that boundary before that happened. So I messaged her this morning and told her how I felt and that I did not want to hear about that anymore, that it is bigotry and offends my sensibilities (thanks Dr. Phil for that one!). I was very careful how I said it, did not ask her to change her opinions or to change her behavior when I am not around. I thought I did a good job of standing up for myself while staying respectful (maintaining the boundaries, in other words) and I felt good about it.
Well she really let loose on me. Accused me of calling her a racist and a bigot, which I did not, of being PC and a bleeding-heart liberal and all that. She acted insulted that I would presume that she would ever bring the subject up because she said she wouldn't and that we had an agreement not to. I was really surprised by that because I had never agreed to anything, it was just she who said she was "done with it." The way she said it, I believed she was talking about electoral politics and not including her feelings about immigrants, etc. She continued to insist that we had and agreement, etc.
Obviously it was a misunderstanding so probably I should have let it go at that. Actually, looking back I think my biggest mistake was trying to reason with her when she was so angry. I have had to deal with rageful people all my life, literally, starting with both my parents and then my ex and a few others along the way. I have come to realize that while one can be very angry yet respectful, rage is anger that has no boundaries, that crosses over into disrespect and abuse, caring more about the rage in the moment than about other peoples feelings and boundaries. A person in a rage is no more rational than a person who is drunk, and you don't try to reason with a drunk. But I got hooked into the old pattern of trying to explain myself over and over, as if she would understand if only I could say it right.
So I am sorry that I did not just say maybe we should give ourselves some time to cool down before we discuss this. I can apologize for that, and for her hurt feelings, but I refuse to apologize for how I feel or for my very simple and reasonable request, which she is free to refuse in any case.
So that's where it stands. I would appreciate any observations or similar experiences that anyone else has, but please try to not give advice. Thanks for listening, I'm so grateful for this group and everyone in it. Looking forward to hearing from any of you.