Are you a good friend?
I have always claimed that I do not need friends and that I purposely do not have many!
Our school years is the place we usually find a group of friends or friend that we share the best experiences of our lives with, as well as some of the worst. We have no judgments, we just enjoy being together, sing to our favourite songs and find our way in the world.
We gossip about boyfriends, try our first cigarettes, drink some bad cider and find our way. At school friends are the people we know we can rely on, they will soak up our tears and keep our secrets.
I hate looking back as the passed cannot be changed, we only have the now.
However, when I do spend time contemplating, I regret that I did not stay in touch with my friends from school. Nearly 20 years after leaving school, they are the only best and closest friends I have had.
As I sit writing this, I can safely say I have two friends who I know I could call at any time and they would be there for me; without question. I am not the kind of friend who is likely to do that, independence always shines through and I hate bothering people when I know they have their own life issues.
What does being a ‘good’ friend look like?
Of course, the expectation of friendship is different for everyone. I often see cute quotes on social media about friends and see how popular they are; to me this makes me think most people want the same thing from a friend.
Listen to you
Laugh with you
Cry with you
Be there for you
Do not judge you
Share secrets with you
Am I not THAT kind of friend.
If I really think about how my friends feel about me, I am pretty sure I would not be on the list of people they would call in a desperate situation – I am not THAT kind of friend.
Strangely, I have always felt like I was a good friend, loyal, kind and funny and I could never understand why I do not have more friends. I often put it down to the fact it’s actually my choice and nothing to do with the fact that I am not a ‘good’ friend to people.
When you are in the depths of a mental illness, you naturally become pretty selfish. It is not purposeful, it just happens. Let me remind you (I know I am a broken record) mental illnesses and eating disorders are notoriously secret and selfish diseases and will do anything to push people away, you do not even realise it’s happening and it is not a choice.
I used to also think I had ‘trust’ issues…..Hmm me and half the population! Sadly many people are out for themselves and it’s only when you accept this that you can forgive yourself for not trusting people.
I have come to notice I am the kind of person that desperately wants friends, I want someone I can chat with about pointless things and call a couple of times a week just to hear them complain about the kids or work.
Unfortunately I not only have an eating disorder, but I am also the kind of person who cancels dinner and drinks invitations, I am flakey, inconsistent and when I do meet with ‘friends’ I seem to just sit and listen and not actually ‘share’ anything.
Is it any surprise that I do not have more friends?!
Do I have High FRIEND expectations?
What do you expect from a friend?
Is a friend just someone you visit once or twice a year?
Is a friend someone you ask to do ‘something’ for you but you do not want them to bother you the rest of the year?
Are they someone you can share your worries with and they share your worries with you?
Do you want to share your time with them?
Are they at the end of the phone for you without questions or judgment?
I think I have watched too many films and read too many books and I have this romantic view of what a friend looks like. Think Sex & the city or ‘friends’ the sitcom. I want that kind of friend.
You know who your FRIENDS are?!
When I ‘outed’ myself with my eating disorder, I had lots of amazingly awesome and comforting comments from people on Facebook, some from people I have not seen since school or from people that I do not really ‘know’ but just exist on my Facebook page.
I felt totally overwhelmed and emotional – I felt like I had friends.
There were also people who I assumed were friends that did not bother to contact me, ask how I am or did I need anything?
For ages, it bothered me, but then I realised that I had not been there for them throughout their bad times or bothered to ask how they were, so why should they suddenly be there for me?!
This realisation was pretty hard to take and still is.
Get your HEAD out of your ass?!
WE ALL get caught up in our own daily existence and as I have started to take time and look at life from the outside of my own worries and issues, I suddenly realised we ALL just need to take the time to STOP and look around us and the people in our lives.
When was the last time you asked a ‘friend’ How are you? and really bothered to LISTEN to them!
If you have friends that drive you crazy or that are negative or poisonous, then do not complain and bitch about them – cut them out of your life OR show compassion and think about why they are acting the way they are.
Is there something you could do to help them feel better and be more positive?
We are naturally predisposed to bitch and be negative about people, but try and put yourselves in their shoes and think about why they are the way they are!
Of course, your family and own life are important, but just reaching out or stopping and taking the time to think about someone else will make you realise just how important friends are and will make you feel better too.
When LOVE comes first?
I am sooooo GUILTY of this. I have ALWAYS put relationships before friends.
All of what I have was given to my partners and still is. Friends have always come second place and I know this is the reason I can only count two friends in my life.
At school, boyfriends came first, as I grew older boyfriends came first.
In my late teens, I had the most amazing group of friends, I really felt like we were from the sitcom ‘friends’. We would all meet in the evenings, have dinner together, go on holiday together. Laugh, get drunk and share secrets.
My partner at the time and I were a part of this group and when we split up, slowly the tightly knitted friendships unraveled and I became withdrawn from them, finding it hard to continue as we were.
These were some of the best friends I had and I still miss them to this day. Most have moved on and are married with children, most of the group are still friends together and over the years I have seen pictures of them at parties and celebrations with them all smiling and laughing and it used to hurt!
I would say since this time I have not had friends like that again. I have met people, people who I LOVE and spend time with but not people who I feel I could cry and laugh and just be 100% myself with.
I have been in my current relationship for 16 years and I have always put US, first.
My partner is, without a doubt, my best friend and that is healthy and unhealthy in equal measure. He has to listen to all the ‘stuff’ a girlfriend would usually shoulder and I expect him to know what to say too!
Ever asked your boyfriend if you should wear the red or pink lipstick, only for him to look at you and think ‘I don’t care, just get ready’! Sometimes, I just want to message a girlfriend and ask the question….on many occasions it is just the small stuff!
I have SPACE for friends!
As I deal with my mental illness and open up to people a little more, I know I now have room for FRIENDS. I want to connect with people, I want a girlfriend I can message about something ridiculous and I want my partner and to meet people we can have dinner with.
We were recently invited to a quiz, we did not know anyone and we were both a little nervous about socialising. In the four months, we have been in Spain, we have been out no more than 4 – 5 times, so we were both looking forward to doing something different.
We met some amazing people at the quiz, people who we knew we could spend time with and genuinely interested in what we had to say and about our life experiences and we LAUGHED. Even though they are much older than us with grown up children, it did not matter as age did not even come into it.
We have made a conscious decision to make more friends this year, I am sure it will be trial and error…..BUT we know there are friends out there.
I am still not the easiest person to be around at times, but do you know what TOUGH as none of us are perfect!
We all need friends.
Embrace the friends you have, ask them how they are and really LISTEN when they respond. Have compassion and remember when you start to whine about a friend, think about what they are going through.
PS Having 1000 friends on Facebook just doesn’t count – sorry!!