Stuck in the middle of my two best friends
My sister and my cousin are my two best friends. We've been close for over 30 years now, since we were small, and the three of us have been inseparable until recently, when the two of them had a major falling out. I'm stuck in the middle and don't know what to do - each is saying that they are "done" with the other and that the relationship is irreparable. It would be bad enough if these were just two friends of mine, but because we are family, this is affecting a lot of people, including our kids (I'm due to have a daughter in August, who will join my three nieces and my cousin's daughter as the newest generation!)
Here is what happened: My sister had her second child in November and just had her baptized last weekend. She chose my sister-in-law as the baby's godmother, for reasons known only to her (my cousin and I had both assumed she'd be chosen, since I was the godmother for my sister's first child). My sister didn't tell my cousin about her decision - instead, she found out through the grapevine. My sister says she didn't think my cousin would mind all that much, because she didn't have her own daughter baptized. However, this has apparently affected my cousin very deeply to the point where she believes their relationship can never be the same.
I don't understand why my sister decided what she did, but she has the right to decide whatever she wants. This isn't to say that I fully agree with her, though - I do think that she owed it to my cousin to discuss it with her beforehand so that she understood why my sister-in-law was chosen. Instead, having found out through a third party, my cousin immediately went on the defensive and said some things which made it sound like she thought she was somehow entitled to being named godmother because she planned the baby shower and was in the delivery room all night when the baby was born (as was I - I don't feel like I deserve anything special because of it!)
She then refused to come to the baptism, which cast a pall over the whole affair. The rest of her family (parents, siblings) did come but things were noticeably strained between our families that day. I tried to reason with her and tell her that it would only make things worse if she didn't come and that she should come for the baby's sake, not my sister's, but she (selfishly, in my opinion) refused. I tried so hard, and was so sure that she'd see reason at the last minute. I was so unbelievably disappointed when that didn't happen.
The thing is that neither one of them will talk openly and honestly to the other about the motivations behind their actions or how they feel about the whole thing - my sister just shuts down and says nothing, while my cousin shoots her mouth off and says horribly hurtful things and makes accusations that have little to no basis in fact (such as that my sister dislikes her (my cousin's) daughter). I have my theories as to what the real root issues are, but it's not my place to bring them up - such as that my cousin might feel left out because both my sister and sister-in-law work full time and breastfeed while she is a stay-at-home mom who was unable to breastfeed due to a traumatic birth experience. These things have made my sister and sister-in-law grow closer in the recent past, so that's why I think that.
Anyway, how can I help my two best friends in the entire world, whom I cannot live without and desperately want involved in my daughter's life once she is born, get over this hurdle and talk to one another civilly in order to resolve their differences? I'm at my wit's end.
I think you are trying to bring these two people together, I like to bring people together, also, although I don't do that as well as you, but I know what you are saying here.
I hope they get back together also.
Here are my thoughts: One, be positive that you can do this. You might think about the problem and come up with a possible idea as to how it might be made better.
You might also not think about the problem, walk away from it, and let your unconscious work on it, and believe that you can solve this, and be ready to accept ideas that you come up with. It might take some time, but have your mind open to that.
I think the key person here is the one, "Debbie," who named someone else as the godmother.
I think you need to talk to her and ask her about that. I think you need to say to her, "Please talk to `Jane' about this."
Have her give Jane her best explanation as to what was going on with that decision.
"I didn't mean to hurt you...."
Please have her give her best effort to patch things up. I know there are things going on that I don't know about. I know it is easier for me to say this than for them to do this. I know when you are upset with someone you don't want to talk to them. I know sometimes there is "good reason" for a division. I know sometimes you need time to let things calm down.
Maybe you could tell Debbie what you think the reason is for the breakup, for getting closer to the new friend. Tell, Debbie, "Jane feels left out. Is there anyway you can find it in your heart to bring her back into the circle? She is hurt." Debbie is the key person, and you need to assist her.
Debbie is the strong one in this. She needs to find it in her heart to reach out to Jane, and use her strength to bring her back. The one who is hurt and was pushed to the outside does not have such strength.
She cannot bring this back together. She is the one who had the difficult pregnancy, who did not get to breast feed, you said, and then, she was the one who got pushed out of the circle. She has been triple whamied. No wonder she's upset.
It's up to Debbie. Work with her. She won by pushing Jane away. Now tell her to be human enough to un-win by bringing Jane back into the fold.
For your sake if nothing else. Put it on you.
But at a time when you think it might be right, maybe you could say to Jane, why don't you and Debbie get together for lunch with me, it will be my treat? If it doesn't work, maybe bring it up again in another month or two.
Or, you could get a little crazy and tell one or both, "how can I help my two best friends in the entire world, whom I cannot live without and desperately want involved in my daughter's life once she is born, get over this hurdle and talk to one another civilly in order to resolve their differences? I'm at my wit's end."
Put it on you. Tell them, well tell them what you just told us. Let them know that it's hurting you. Deep down they want to get back together as friends. Give them a good excuse: you.
Thank you, PJVL9 - you seem to get what I'm saying. Your reply made me tear up because it is so spot-on.
I agree that getting my sister to open up about her reasons for not choosing my cousin and talking to her honestly about it is the key.
Thanks again for your input.
You're not going to make me tear up. You're not going to make me make a complete fool out of myself.
But you got close.