People say that the closer the relationship, the greater the hurt. About one week ago, I had a tiff with a colleague. I used to be able to describe her as one of my closest friends at work, but as of last weekend, we are no longer comfortable acknowledging each other as friends. The last time I had a huge argument with a person I stopped speaking to for days was…. so far behind in the past I cannot remember. I had assumed all along that tiffs between friends were what happened between secondary school teenagers, not matured fully-grown adults. I now realised that I was wrong. 

I understand that my actions, a bad call of judgment, may have been hurtful, maybe more than I expected. But after apologising and explaining the intentions behind my actions, I had expected her to be gracious and accept that apology. It hurts that she values our friendship and shared memories as colleagues in the first 3 years of being official education officers so little. It hurts that she would rather harbor the hate and anger, instead of be upfront about it, clear the air, and preserve our friendship. It hurts that she would be okay with talking to the colleagues whom she was upset about before, but she would ignore me completely. 

And then the hurt I felt became anger. I was angry at being treated this way because I did not understand why she would get so mad. Could it be a misunderstanding? Could it be jealousy? Could it be that I made a daft suggestion? Could it be a mistake I made? All the infinite possibilities I keep replaying in my mind does not seem to match up to this five-day cold war she is waging against me. I was angry that she would compromise on professionalism and our working relationship by refusing to talk to me upfront about what I need to do on her team. I was angry that she would choose to pull out of plans a group of our mutual friends had for a staycation, without giving any reason for it, or letting me know that she did not feel up for it. 

And above all, I think I feel speechless and bewildered, at how this is going on for five days, and no one is relenting. It is embarrassing because I thought only children have arguments like that. 

I question a lot more after this incident. I question the durability of friendships. I realised that you can be best buddies with one person, and the next moment, circumstances and/or people change. Trust is only as reliable as … nothing. How about when it is a marriage in question – can you trust your partner then? Or will arguments threaten to drive a wedge through your marriage as well? Life, and all its little bits, are just more tenuous and unreliable. 

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