I’ll try being nicer if you try being smarter!

On Friendship.

Friendship is a scary thing if you think about it.

You open yourself up to someone and tell them things that nobody else is allowed to know. Tell them things that you shouldn’t. Things you’ve done, thought, almost done, said, shouldn’t have said, places you went, places you shouldn’t have gone, places you should have. Dreams you’ve had, dreams you’ve achieved, dreams you’ve let go of. Failures, successes and all the complicated messes that make up the inbetween.

It can come back to you tenfold. Hopefully it won’t, and it’s a risk we all take for the sake of companionship and unconditional love. We need our friends, just like they need us.

Each friendship has a unique dynamic…….inexplicable, but there all the same. It’s just ‘known’ between the two who’s better at what, who’s responsibility it is to do certain things, to clean up certain messes, to deal with certain sticky situations. Who’s the stronger one in each case. In a real friendship, this is obvious from the get-go. It just IS. It always will be with a true friend, since you are being genuinely you and they are being genuinely them.

There is a woman in my life who’s friendship means the world to me. The world plus all the planets……..even Pluto, the little planet that couldn’t.

I’ve rarely mentioned her on here, but when I have I’ve referred to her as my Guardian Angel. She is that. She was put into my life at a time where I needed serious help. Her help, her listening, her support, her wisdom, her ability to never judge and to never expect and to never ask for anything……..she’s truly incredible. Without her, I do not know where I would be. And that includes wondering if I would even be alive.

In our relationship, the dynamic is that she’s the strong one. She’s the listener. She’s the one who knows what to do, who has the experience, who leads the way. She is 25 years my senior and in some ways, my mentor.

I got a call from her today, with bad news.

I listened to her break down. I listened to her deepest thoughts, her hidden secrets, the truths she’s now willing to acknowledge.

It killed me.

The worst thing, the thing that killed me the most…….I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. I knew that anything I said would pale in comparison to what she was going through. Anything I said wasn’t going to matter. But I had to say something. So I stuttered and stumbled around words that just didn’t cut it. I laid out the cliche sayings that you do when you’re at a loss. I felt awful.

What do you do when the dynamic is flipped so suddenly and so completely? When you are suddenly trying to help and give advice to the one who is always so strong? I can’t give advice to a woman who knows so much more than me.

All I can do is listen. I can’t help. It’s awful.

And since, for once, I couldn’t go to her with my worries, I place them here. To get them out of my head, so it is clear for her when she needs me. So that hopefully I have space in there that I can use to think of how I can make this easier for her.

I hate feeling helpless. I hate feeling useless. I feel both of those things right now. I cannot even offer her a simple hug or a cup of tea, she is two hours away from me.

And as a cruel joke from the cosmos, I was knitting her Christmas present when the phone rang, thinking of how amazing she is to me. Thinking of how lucky I am to have her. And now? I feel like I failed her. Le sigh.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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Comments on: "On Friendship." (9)

  1. You didn’t fail her. Just lending an ear can be such an amazing gift. A shoulder to cry on. A long distance hug. They all mean something. You were there for her. Friends don’t have to have all of the answers. Just being the crutch to hold you up is enough. 😉 You sound like an amazing friend to have. 🙂

  2. You did not fail her. Most of the time, people know exactly what to do in a situation (especially someone who you have described as so… together and a fine example to others) – but they need to verbalize it, they need to say it out loud, and she came to you because she loves you- you fill something in her heart as well. Just as she has filled in a lot of cracks in your heart, you have also in hers. Listening is soooo frickn’ underrated.

    Talea, I have a bad habit of wanting to fix things for others so when this one very good friend of mine came to me and was telling me her tale of woe, I was like, “Well, maybe blah-blah-blah” and she flat out told me, “Anne, I don’t always need you to tell me what to do or how to make it go away, sometimes I just need to fucking vent” and a big light came on for me. Listening is key. You are awesome, and dont cha ever doubt it!

  3. Like you said though, friends know each other. It sounds like she knows you enough to know that you aren’t going to have the answers for her. Most of the time, people don’t expect, or even want, answers; they just need need to be heard. You are a good friend.

  4. I just went through this last week with a friend of mine. Posted kind of on the same lines as you. Feel like a “FAIL”..need to “FIX”…need words of wisdom..etc. Everybody said sometimes we all just need someone who can listen. Sometimes all I want is for someone to sit there and listen to me. I’m kind of afraid of what your scenerio is here…just kind of reading between lines. But even then sometimes you are going to be the ears and the shoulder and not the advisor.

    Here for you! You didn’t fail anybody. You listened. You may not have to be her rock even though she sounds like yours. You can just be her shoulder.

  5. QueenBitch said:

    In no way have you failed your friend. You have listened! Listening can half the size of the problem. Granted I dont know what the problem is but I bet your friend is feeling better knowing someone has listened to her. Asking someone to listen is sometimes the hardest part of the problem.

    Keep listening, keep telling your friend you are there for her. Most importantly make sure you vent as well dont keep it all bottled up 🙂 even if you just write wordpress drafts or write in a diary get it out there.

    Hope your friend feels better soon 🙂

  6. I am going to echo everything said by everyone above me in that listening is often enough. You were there for her when she turned the tables and reached out and that is what matters most.

    The only other thing I want to add – and it really just pulls right out of how you started this whole post in the first place – is that the truth is often the most beautiful part of a friendship.

    You can probably say to this woman, “You must realize I am not as good at this as you are, I am afraid I can’t do enough to help — BUT — I am here, I am listening. I WANT TO HEAR IT ALL FOR AS LONG AS YOU WANT TO TALK. I’m not going anywhere and I will do whatever I can because I love you.” If it were me and there were even the tiniest bit of room for humour I might add “so there, nanny nanny poo poo”… But I am gauche at the best of times…

    Anyhoo— Don’t waste time feeling inadequate. It doesn’t help you and it doesn’t help her is what I’m thinking. Plus, the fact that you stepped up and were there for her means that you already are in NONE OF THE WAYS THAT MATTER — inadequate.

    So there. Nanny nanny poo poo.

    (wink)

  7. You gave her just what she needed and if she needed more from you she would have let you know. Now the only thing you can do is just let her know that you will continue to be there for her. I think the feeling of helplessness may just be the fact that you can’t solve all her problems and make her happy, which is what we all want for those we care about. So it’s natural to feel like that. You done good though.

    As for knitting on the plane, I’ve seen them let knitting needles through and I always thought that was weird. But good for you! 😉

  8. True friends are there for each other, even when they are at a loss for words. She knows you tried your best. Keep knitting her present, both of you will appreciate it.

  9. Apparently your current banner art is a big fat lie. Obviously you DO give a fuck. I have learned that what a lot of the comments above state is very true. Just to be listened to is what one expects from one’s true friends.

    Nice heartfelt post Talea.

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