“You need better friends”
“I know. My counselor said the same thing.”
“Uh. I was just kidding but well…oh gosh. I’m sorry.”
I was too tired to put on my polite filter. It had been a long week and it was only Thursday. While I wanted to cancel dinner and run to the arms of my bed I didn’t. I’d be canceling on what’s become somewhat of a tradition for me and a few friends, including the one who said I needed better friends. She was telling the truth whether she knew it or not. I knew it, my counselor knew it, and a couple of other people knew it. I thought I cleaned out the not so great friendship cupboard a few months ago, no longer putting in effort to maintain what had become abundantly clear one sided non life giving energy sucking relationships.
I’ve shared on the blog the importance of friendships and the role of friends in our lives. I believe friends are important. I believe they help us see our strengths and weaknesses that family members don’t and sometimes can’t, the way we sometimes don’t or can’t. I don’t believe you have to have a lot of them. I also don’t believe that in order to have friends you have to let them ride roughshod over your boundaries, disrespect you with a smile and a boat load of good intentions, or allow their choice to be unhealthy or engage in unhealthy behaviors spill over into the friendship dynamic.
I was just having trouble acting on my beliefs. It happens sometimes. Sometimes you, I, make allowances even when I believe different. Often it’s because I hope for different. I hope that people won’t continue to be grossly late, and by grossly I mean I have some friends who are on average 45 minutes late with all kinds of excuses. I hope that most of the conversation won’t be the same complaints although the person has decided to do nothing to change that which they are complaining about. I false hope for different when my friends really give me no concrete reason to sincerely hope for different. Then well I get really disappointed and it’s really because I either need better friends or I share with friends that my interactions with them will be limited until they can do better by me.
“But people are late Ahyana. Stuff happens. Get over yourself.” I agree. Stuff does happen, but with some of my friends it’s not the stuff, it’s them, and the choices they make, the choices that scream from the mountain top they don’t respect me or my time enough to keep the commitment they made.
“If you were a real friend, then you’d let your friends vent. Maybe you’re the only person they can really talk to.” Sometimes I think that’s the case. However, there comes a point when venting becomes plain old complaining. It is whining and futile. It’s negative and life sucking.
The point here isn’t to go on about late friends, negative complaining friends, friends who can show up or out as long as they have been in control of planning things but if I do they are consistently unavailable, friends. The point is a truth was spoken and it had been spoken before, years ago by family, months ago by my counselor, and I didn’t listen to it. Maybe I didn’t listen because it wasn’t coming from the people with whom I had the friendships with. maybe it’s because well if I tried to change the friendship dynamics and they didn’t bode well, I’d be alone.
However, when one of the friends, the constantly late time disrespecting friend said it, I heard it. I heard the truth when she told it. Not only did I hear it, I’m listening to it. There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Listening is the comprehension response inducing and in this case behavior changing part.
Now before yall think that my response and behavior change includes a mass separation and abrupt ending of friendships, it doesn’t. Instead it’s meant verbally redefining some things with friends. Things like”It’s going to be a while before we hang out because I don’t trust that you respect my time.” “If we agree to meet some place at a certain time and you are more than fifteen minutes late I will leave or go ahead without you.” As a side note-she was late one for a trip to NYC to see a play for free and I left without her. It’s meant clarifying when the negative whiney friends makes a choice and me saying “As long as we are both clear you are choosing to stay in this predicament I don’t want to talk about it again unless you are talking about change.” It’s meant me taking risk and attending things that I am interested alone and meeting new people who will be as human as my current friends are but hopefully…better. I mean that was the truth right. I need better friends.
Mostly this truth meant that better friends were going to be friends who weren’t, if I were honest, good clients. Better friends meant giving myself permission to accept the truth that I needed friends who wouldn’t tap into me as a counselor. I need friends that will allow me to be a good friend. Emphasis on friend. And that will sometimes mean the running late and the venting. I get that. Friendships are spaces for graciousness. However friend also means respect, taking some responsibility for the health and maintenance of the friendship and not just doing things out of personal convenience, and not taking people for granted. It means not using times to gather as times to dump, process, get feedback, and validation. That’s a counseling session.
This week I hope you listening for the truth. I hope that as you go throughout your week you are receptive to hearing truths that may mean you need better ________________. Furthermore I hope that you take the steps to get the better. I hope you take the time to have the conversations that may need to be had with others or yourself in order to create the change and experience the freedom that comes with the truth. The truth shall set you free and a simply LIVEd life is a free life.