The day after New Year's Day, I received an email from a friend of mine. It contained a picture of a woman and a couple of sentences including, "Just heard from her yesterday. I'm trying to wrap my head around this. It was tragic. I don't feel like talking right now. Maybe later."
Very long story short, the day before, she received a "Happy New Year" text from a very dear friend of hers right before 1pm. By 4pm, that same friend became the victim of a murder-suicide at the hands of her husband.
Unless you've experienced someone close to you (who lives in another state or country) dying unexpectedly before, you have no idea the kind of stress and strain it can put on you. Not only are you dealing with the shock and immense grief that you're feeling, but a lot of us don't have $1,000+ lying around to buy a last-minute round-trip plane ticket to attend the funeral. Knowing that you might not be able to say goodbye to your loved one? That makes the pain just that much worse. In a nutshell, that's how my friend has been feeling ever since she received the news.
My friend is a giver. No doubt about it. Even though she's married with children and is also a caregiver, she has sat on the phone with me all night during a devastating heartbreak. She's sent money to help cover an unexpected bill. She makes sure to acknowledge the special days in my life. And so, as she was talking to me about how much she wanted to attend her friend's send-off, I was trying to figure out how to financially assist her. Not because I just have money lying around (not at all); it's because she's my friend. Simple as that. I told her that I had a couple hundred dollars waiting for her if she needed it; all she had to do was let me know.
Again, not because I exactly had it, but because she's my friend.
Literally, just a few days before the funeral, I got an email from her right around midnight. Although it's always been hard for her to ask for anything, she indeed did need the cash. While she was talking about how she could understand if I couldn't help, I sent $200 through Cash app. It was as good as done. How it would affect me, I'd figure that out later. This was more important.
As she then went on to say that if she could find a way to pay me back because she knew I had some travel plans myself, I told her how offended I was by that.
"You got me. I got you. Friendships are sometimes inconvenient."
And you know what, y'all? They are.
It took me a significant amount of time, a ton of money, and a lot of hurt feelings to come to the conclusion of what I'm about to say, but listen — if your friends are only available when it's convenient for them, if you can't recall the last time they made a true sacrifice on your behalf, if your friends aren't the kind of people who you can call at 3 AM or will come and get you off the side of the road when you get a flat (even if it means that it's during their lunch hour) without a lot of hemming and hawing — love yourself enough to get some new ones.
Here's why I say that. Life coach Tony Robbins once said, "Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something — they're trying to find someone who's going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take."
If there was a quote that properly described my journey towards defining what true friendship is, this would be on my Top 5 list. Only, my struggle hasn't been that I don't give enough. My struggle has been finding people who are willing to give in return.
This article isn't about the PTSD that comes from an abusive childhood and how that can often set the tone for how you relate to others as an adult. However, I will say that due to so much upheaval in my own household, I realize that whether a home is healthy or not, a part of what a child does is try and make others feel loved (innocence does that); even when they aren't getting the love that they deserve in return. If an abused child grows up without healing from the imbalance and toxicity of what transpired (which sometimes requires therapy) they — or in this case, "we" — become codependent.
Yeah, I know that's a word that tends to be tossed around a lot, so if you're thinking to yourself, "What exactly does codependent mean?", Mental Health America provides a pretty spot-on definition:
"It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual's ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as 'relationship addiction' because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive."
Rinse and repeat. When you are codependent, you tend to form or maintain one-sided relationships. You think that it's normal to be the one giving and doing most of the work. But the word "relationship" is a dead giveaway that it's not. For a relationship to be functional rather than dysfunctional, two people need to relate to one another. They need to be connected and bonded. They need to be able to trust and rely on each other — not just when it's comfortable but also when it's inconvenient.
Yeah, I know. This way of thinking can be so foreign that it might take a while to let it really sink in. But ask a couple who's been married 20 years about how many times they were "inconvenienced" in order to make their union work. Ask a single mother how many times she's been "inconvenienced" in order for her children's needs to be met.
The commonality in both scenarios is when you really and truly love someone, you'll do all that you can — sometimes if that means moving heaven and Earth by doing what is challenging or difficult — in order to hold them down. When the relationship is healthy, you don't give doing it a second thought; you already know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they'd do the same for you. That's how much you both value the relationship.
No one said that love or friendship was easy. Sometimes it's totally inconvenient.
But if you and your friends accept that as a part of your relationships' reality, count yourself lucky. No, blessed.
Inconvenient friendships are some of the very best ones on planet earth. You'd better believe it.
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