Articles and exercises

Friendship

 

Friendship, what is true friendship? This issue has been brought to my notice recently in a number of cases. Over the past year my partner has been laid up with an injured back and then with flu and a bad cough. In all this time there was a noticeable lack of communication from the majority of those we considered to be friends. These were people who we had helped in the past and made an effort to keep in touch with. For some time my wife felt angry and saddened that no one wanted to contact her or call round to see how she was. These negative feelings were not beneficial to her recovery. I perhaps need to explain here that we live in a very small village in a quiet valley in southern Spain where everyone gets to know everything so we knew the word had got round about her injury.

It was sometime before we began to realise that we were not suddenly “out of favour” but that there was a different issue here and the issue was more about what ever was going on for our friends at that time and what they could or couldn’t cope with. Perhaps the lesson for us here was that we considered people to be friends when perhaps it was more a relationship of convenience on their part. Our negative issue was our feeling of rejection and our belief that we were not considered worthy of a visit. What we needed to consider was what may have been going on for the other people in their lives.

Another case in point is a friend/client of mine who is living with a disabling disease that puts her in great pain for much of the time. She lives with her mother who helps and supports her. Recently her mother was diagnosed with a form of lymphatic cancer and is now undergoing treatment. During a recent massage session I enquired as to her network of friends. Did she have friends to whom she could express how she felt about her situation? It was clear that there were obviously issues that would be difficult to talk about within the family. She told me that none of her friends could cope with hearing about her situation so she would stay cheerful and not talk about it; this is a very lonely and vulnerable place to be.

And then by pure accident I came across a blog where this man had suffered an arm injury and suddenly where were his friends? People he had helped in the past were now nowhere to be seen.

Real friendships, can include family members, aunts, uncles, grandparents, are they are very important to us. We all need to have our feelings acknowledged, however irrational they may be at the time. We all need unconditional positive regard. Part of our early development depended on mirroring. On adults reflecting back to us how they saw us. This helped us to develop, to understand ourselves. In times of stress and trauma we are vulnerable and often find ourselves lacking in confidence, and low in self esteem. What we need at this time is to access some inner strength. When others around us who we trust, acknowledge how we feel unconditionally, then we become empowered. Often by simply voicing our feelings and having them heard and accepted we are able to move through negative emotions to a more positive and empowered place. So when there are no friends, and I include relatives who can listen unconditionally here, are not available then it maybe time to seek help from a counsellor or therapist. There are times when we all need a little help to find our own route through the negative moments.

 So there are two lessons here. One is that when people who we believe to be friends seem to move away from us when we are in need then rather than being angry with them, which will have a negative effect on ourselves,  we can consider their situation and consider how that may influence their ability to be with us in the way we need. The other lesson is that it is also acceptable to be angry about that situation and to have that recognised, and to have your feelings acknowledged, whatever they may be. Not to be judged or to feel guilty or lacking in any way.  Seek a friend who can listen without the need to judge or try to sort you out. If there rally is no one then maybe it is time to call on professional help. There are many styles of therapy available so look for what feels right for you. If the first person you go to doesn’t feel right for you, try someone else. Go with your gut reactions, and don’t feel guilty about asking for help. The most important moment in making positive change is the moment when we make the decision to ask for help.