I remember when my friends first began dating. Everything was so exciting. We’d talk all the time, analyze every comment and gesture. I felt central to the drama, so involved.
And then, the relationship would steady. And all of the sudden I wasn’t needed, to analyze, to talk things out with, to cheerlead. In fact, I was barely talked to at all. Even in group settings, I was ignored by that friend.
Of course, all of that would change when the relationship grew rocky – typically under 3 months in – oh, the joys of high school.
Then I was needed. Then my company was sought out. Then we were close again, like nothing had happened.
But sometimes, too much time had passed. Sometimes, that friend wouldn’t come to me, or I wouldn’t go to them. Sometimes we simply drifted apart.
That situation doesn’t happen much anymore. Occasionally, and often for the first few weeks of dating it does still occur, but friendship is generally viewed as much more special, much more valuable, much easier to lose, than it was in those teenage years.
It is acknowledged as being a priority.
We know that it’s important to be there for the good times as well as the bad. We know that there is value both in excitement and normalcy. We know that maintenance is key to any kind of relationship. We know that we have to invest effort. We have learned this the hard way.
And yet, it is so easy to forget.
I have to say, I have some of the greatest friends in the world. They truly are spectacular human beings. The friends I have today have stuck with me across the country, through times when I have been unable to stand up and give them a hug. I have friends who have cooked me dinner in my own kitchen, because I was simply too tired. Friends who have picked me up from my apartment and driven me around, just for a change of scenery and some time together. Friends who have sent me beautiful care packages. Friends who can, with one conversation, make me smile for an entire week.
I love my friends. And I would hope, that if anything was wrong, that they would tell me. Even if there was nothing I could do, I would want them to let me share a bit of the burden, to let me sit on the phone with them, silent if necessary, just to be there.
I feel that with 100% certainty. In fact, I would be extremely upset if there were something wrong that a friend felt they couldn’t tell me. I want to know the good and bad news, and all the bits in the middle. More than to know, I want to experience it along with them. To me, that’s what friendship is.
And yet, I am a hypocrite. A complete and utter hypocrite.
I don’t lie to my friends. But I do avoid telling them the truth.
Lately I have been having a really terrible time medically. I went through over a week being unable to sit upright for more than 20 minutes at a time. I was, and still am, experiencing sleep disturbances, or hallucinations- events which terrify me. I had been getting worse, day by day, and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed.
I am pleased to say that this past week has been a little better. I’m still in a scary place, but the downwards trajectory seems to have been halted. I have a list of possible investigations to be done. I have plans to latch on to.
Overall, however, things have been rough. I have felt scared and adrift.
And yet, I have not reached out to a single friend. Not only have I not reached out, but I have avoided social contact, not replying to messages and emails. I have retreated, hunkering down, with the mindset that I just have to get through this, and then I’ll deal with everything else. This just have to get figured out first.
It makes sense. There are so many reasons why I have isolated myself. I mean, it’s not like this is the first time that things have gotten scary, nor do I believe it will be the last. Why burden my friends when there is nothing at all that they can do? Especially around exams, when they really don’t have time to talk anyways? Why make them upset or uncomfortable? And on a whole other note, I have been struggling to keep up a conversation, both in focus and speech. I would be a mess on the phone or Skype, a side that I never enjoy portraying. Furthermore, it feels so wrong to contact someone for the sole purpose of them making me feel better. It feels presumptuous and unfair.
My reasoning makes sense. It’s entirely rational. And yet it holds no weight.
Because I wouldn’t think it presumptuous or unfair for a friend to call because they were upset. I haven’t. I don’t.
I would not feel it as a burden.
I would be glad that they called.
I might feel helpless, and I might feel upset. It might even come at a bad time.
But I would feel honoured, to be trusted.
I want those calls. I expect those calls.
I want and expect to be leant on, once in a while, by the people in my life.
And I would feel terrible, to know that someone was rationalizing not calling me. That someone was, perhaps, avoiding me, because they felt they weren’t at their best.
No one is always at their best. No one has only good news to share.
Positivity is important. It is important personally, in life, and in friendships. It keeps us going, it allows us to hope and dream, and it draws us to each other.
But honestly is also important.
And, above all that, maintenance is key.
Of all the various friendships that have passed through my life, few have ended in a dramatic fight. The rest have faded, drifting apart through lack of contact, lack of care.
What we say is certainly important. How we see each other, how we treat each other, that all matters a great deal.
But first we have to speak.