The Balance of Friendship

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Relationships are not about balance. Unlike the scales of justice, when dealing with friends, family and loved ones the principle of forgiveness outweighs any sense of proportionate recompense. Our human weaknesses and fallibility often lead to the same quandary: is the transgression one we can forgive? Forgiveness and continued friendship cannot always be unconditional; it may require an understanding or a social contract to be fulfilled. Even the value of that restitution will rarely weigh sufficiently to set the scales right. The truth is that when we harm someone, they will have to heal the wound and bear the debt of forgiveness.

That debt is weighed against the worth of the offender. The emotional and personal value of your relationship is the only security you have. If you were wounded, you have to measure your compassion against that emotional value and decide how much debt your friendship can weather. It is not just the wound alone that must be borne by the people we hurt; we have to understand that in forgiveness they also carry another burden, which they undertake willingly, to preserve our relationships with them. That burden can be a painful one, often far harder to carry and much longer lived.

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.
— Elbert Hubbard

There can be no 'eye for an eye' amongst the people we love, and the ones we truly love are worth the weight they may ask us to carry even when it does hurt. If this need cannot be reconciled then we owe it to ourselves still to forgive, but also to try and cut that friend free. You should not hold on to the debt for a friendship that can never again hold the emotional equity on which it was previously founded; neither with animosity nor regret.

Clearing the Closet