One of my friends suddenly drew back, cutting off our contact. She lives quite far away, so it was per email; it made me uneasy and sad. I couldn't understand her silence, couldn't remember having said or done anything that might have hurt her. I asked what I had done, but she didn't want to take it up per email; we'd better meet. She was right, of course: words easily distort a message, and they can be misunderstood.
Months went by. It took half a year before we met again, over a cup of tea downtown. She told me I hadn't been there for her in difficult times, I had "shrugged off" her pain, changing the subject. This was hard for me to take in. I honestly didn't remember the examples, and this is really not how I want to act, or how I see myself: as somebody who floats on the sunny side, who turns away from hardship and pain. Someone who is not able to cope with "the dark sides of life".
I would have preferred not saying anything at all there and then. I would have preferred letting it sink in and reacting after a night's sleep. Now I felt that was impossible - we would not meet again for a while, and my friend expected a reaction.
In this situation I did what I've learnt over the years on how to deal with difficult situations with others: I stopped and breathed, pausing for a moment. Then I answered very carefully, neither turning to exaggerated excuses nor to strong reactions to the "accusations". I just tried to talk from my heart.
For me, this is essential in difficult situations: to Stop and Pause. I need to take some deep breaths, and relax. Look deeply and honestly at what is being said, and - absolutely crucial - leave the Ego out, and forget any (hurt) pride. Just talk from the heart - from one Friend to another.