Dear Vicki: I’m having a difficult time with one of my best friends. Gail and I have been very close for several years now, ever since we met working at our community garden. She is usually a caring and thoughtful person and we have a lot in common, especially our love of gardening and our children. I read your blog and know a little about the elemental personalities, so have assumed that Gail is an Earth personality, like me. But lately I think she might be a Fire personality because she does everything fast—eats fast, walks fast, talks over you when you try to say something, and finishes your sentences. She’s also been impulsive and acts without thinking things through. Anyway, the reason I’m writing is that my husband and I welcomed our first grandchild a year ago. While Gail was initially enthused about Robby, for the past six months she’s seemed really uninterested. She never asks about him anymore and I’ve stopped mentioning him. It’s gotten to where I can’t be myself around her and it’s ruining our friendship. What can I do? Signed, Grandma
Dear Grandma: The birth of children and grandchildren are some of the deepest changes we can experience in our lives. They can reorder our priorities and affect everything, including our relationships. Your assessment that Gail has a primary Earth personality is likely correct given that she loves gardening and children so much. But Earth people usually love talking about all children, including grandchildren. Something must be going on for Gail that’s affecting her Earth energy. To look at this, I’d like to consider Gail’s “secondary” elemental personality.
You suggest that in addition to Earth, Gail has a lot of Fire in her personality and on the surface that could be true. But the traits you mention can also describe someone with out of balance Wood energy. Doing things too fast frequently happens with a poorly focused Wood person. Finishing people’s sentences and interrupting are rude manifestations of an impatient Wood person. And impulsiveness is often the result of a frustrated Wood person. Honestly, it sounds to me like Gail’s personality is more Earth and out of balance Wood than it is Earth and Fire.
You don’t mention if anything occured in Gail’s life six months ago that cause her to change, but I can’t help wondering if something happened that required her Wood energy to come to the forefront more strongly than usual. Wood energy is about making things happen, so could Gail have had a difficult situation arise that she had to manage? Something she really had to step up and push through? This would have called for an abundance of the Wood “make it happen” energy and could also have caused her to be preoccupied with the issue. Preoccupation and disinterest often look a lot alike. If so, I think it’s this excess Wood energy that’s the problem for both of you right now.
In the Five Elements model, Wood and Earth relate on the Controlling Cycle, with Wood controlling Earth. Being around someone with too much Wood energy could definitely suppress your ability to express your Earth joy at being a grandmother. Too much Wood energy could also be suppressing the Earth part of Gail’s personality, too, making her seem less interested in children and grandchildren than she might normally be. Also, because Wood personalities usually need to appear in control (or really, not out of control), she may have chosen not to mentioned anything to you. Wood people are usually pretty private about their problems.
Right now, you feel uncomfortable sharing with Gail the part of your life that involves Robby because you think she just doesn’t want to talk about him. But before you assume this is true, I suggest you talk with Gail and gently point out what you’re feeling. The Earth part of her personality (even suppressed) will respond to your heartfelt attempt to connect, and the Wood part (even if out of balance) will appreciate you not judging her, but instead giving her a chance to explain herself. Fairness really matters to Wood people. And the best part of this is that clarity and rationality are very good at pruning excess Wood energy.
There’s no telling what Gail will say when you speak with her. She may be jealous that she doesn’t have grandchildren yet; out of balance Wood personalities can go to jealously rather easily. She may truly not be interested in grandchildren, but this is rather unlikely since she has so much Earth in her personality. She may miss what you two used to talk about before Robby came alone. But if she’s been your friend for a long time, she should still be interested in you and what’s going on in your life, even if that means including talk and photos of grandchildren. You two used to connect as Earths, so if you speak with her sincerely and from your heart, you should be able to recapture that relationship. Earth bonds run deep.
Whatever is going on, your friendship deserves clear communication about this shift; it is dangerous to make assumptions that could be incorrect. And bravo to you for even bringing this up. Your Earth personality will not relish the possibility of confronting Gail, even in a kind way. But your friendship is worth it. Once you understand and address what’s going on, I truly believe it won’t be long before you can be yourself again (and a grandmother!) and enjoy your best friend. Blessings to you!