I have at least one friend from long ago who dislikes and disapproves of the way I am handling life. She was incredible in the first few weeks, then disappeared for months, only to call on the actual anniversary date to scold me for not being a better friend to her. I am thankful that when we did talk, she used incredible grown-up skills, showed beautiful compassion and understanding, and was all-around lovely. We aren't really friends anymore. We haven't said it, we didn't say it, but I have the sense that she respects my truth and my choices, even though she thoroughly disagrees, and wants it to be different. She wants a different me, and she can't have it. It's weird, because randomly thinking about who I would want at my "deathbed," I thought of her. Even though we aren't actively friends, and hadn't been for a few years before this Event, either. Something about someone who can use grown-up words, though, makes me like them forever, even when our paths divulge and we disappoint each other in pretty major ways.
A couple of years ago, I ghostwrote a couples counseling workbook. One of the best things I got out of the whole experience was language for desire and disappointment:
It is okay to want something from a friend or love that they are not currently giving. It is okay to express your grief about said shortfall or disappointment. It is okay to ask them if they would be willing to give what you are asking. However. If they are not willing, or simply cannot give you what you are asking, it is not okay to shame, harass, manipulate, judge, correct, and/or constantly try to change that person into the person you want them to be. If they can give what you ask, great. If they can't, and that disappointment is more than you can bear, bow out gracefully and Leave.
I know I used to have such skills; I used to be able to tolerate such discussions. Matt and I were doing awesome with this stuff. We were kicking love butt with our discussions of disappointment and needs. It was easy, and fun, and when it wasn't, we were massively brave anyway. The current me will get the heck out of such discussions quite quickly these days; I will wiggle out quite uncomfortably. It is different trying to be a grown-up with someone I don't know and trust as I do matt. But I can still imagine what a grown-up set of skills might be. If I ever have need of them again.
On other peoples' behalf, though, I am all about respectful and truthful communication. When I hear of someone being less-than-respectful to one one my widow people, I want to (aggressively, protectively) hand that person a little prompt card, suggesting a wee better way of communicating their needs...
"The reality of your life right now is painful/overwhelming/weird/boring/not fun and I am just not digging it. Can you please go back to the life I enjoyed more? Can you please experiment with subject matter I find more interesting? Can you please change the way you are responding to this whole thing? No? Well then I will be self-responsible AND respectful enough to bow out gracefully at this time. Self-responsible, in that I will not continue something that is not feeding me, and respectful in that I honor your path even as it takes you away from me. "
That would be so cool ~ for those people I know who have un-graceful people they know, making judgments and demands on their lives. Not exactly fair that I would expect direct communication in others but not be able to tolerate receiving it myself, but there you go. You can't take the counselor out of me, apparently. I want other people to have the skills, I want the people I know to hear respectful, truthful, honest things. I just don't currently want anyone using those skills on me.