The Day I Felt Like a Shitty Human
We all have them (well, most of us); the friends that NEED support from you. They need to bounce ideas and feelings off of you, and they need you to listen intently to them.
I have always been the “listener’, the “support system” and the ONE to go to in a crisis. I have always had the ability to take a step back and allow my friends to tell me about their situations, from beginning to end, all the while ticking through possible solutions in my head.
In some cases, a few of my friends will actually rely HEAVILY on my advice or feedback on situations and drama. I am one of the first people they text or call to go for wine, or coffee, just to vent. There have been times when I listen to them for hours and multiple glasses of wine. I leave my car parked and take a taxi home and my friend feels better the next day (except for the wine induced headache). But, this is/was typically my “role” as a friend. I am the problem solver and feedback provider. Sometimes I don’t even give them the answer, but help them to conjure it up on their own, just through venting. Is it a gift? Maybe. Is it a curse? At times, very much so.
Closing in on 50 years old, I have more experiences than most of my 40 something friends. My daughter is an adult with a good head on her shoulders, I live in an upper scale neighborhood and have a good career. I live with someone who provides for me and we have an overall content life. I am sure that the reason that most of my tribe comes to me, is because I am older and portray as being confidant and successful. In some ways I am, but in many ways, i am just like them.
We all have our shit to deal with. We all have skeletons and drama and other taxing choke holds in our day to day life. I have high anxiety and some odd type of depression that has been a souvenir from health struggles this year. It’s okay though. I feel great physically now, and am functioning at a mostly normal level now. I am back to work outs and eating right again and going to work daily. I take medication for the anxiety and commit myself to making each day a great one. Lately I have been making an attempt to wean myself off the anxiety pill in the mornings, and most days, I don’t even notice.
The other day, was the exception. That was the day I became a shitty human:
One of my dearest friends was popping over for a visit and I was so excited to see her. She has had a rough year of going through a break up with a psychotic man. I mean, for REAL psychotic. He is currently in a mental institute under 24 hour surveillance.
I was one of 5 people who helped her pack her stuff up and escape from the condo she shared with this man while she was at work. I have only seen her or spoken to her a few times since October, when she made this big move, as I was giving her some space to settle in to her new place.
During this time, I had a major cancer scare, and my hubby had it at the same time. We were diagnosed 17 hours apart. Long story short, we both had surgery, we are both cancer free and we are both still alive.
The thing I noticed after our scares, though, is that I don’t really have a friend like ME. I don’t have anyone who I can call or text and say “Can I vent for a bit? Let’s have a glass of wine or coffee”. I have been in my role of “helper” and “adviser” for so long. I never realized until I needed someone, that the only someone I know is Me.
This changed everything.
I did send messages to my girlfriends who rely on me. Basically the advice I received was “Awww that sucks. Get Better!” with heart emojis . or, “Yea we should try and get together soon”, with no ensuing “get together’.
So, back to the other day. My friend pops over for a visit, I made us both a coffee and we sat on my deck to catch up. The minute she sat down, she started to sob and tell me in between stutter sniffs, how horrible she feels that her ex boyfriend is in the mental ward. She went on to tell me, that she feels bad for his children, and how he was such an ass but she wanted to love him unconditionally…..and then my brain went elsewhere. Instead of ticking through possible solutions, it began tallying up all of the things that I had to get done that day. I hadn’t taken any anxiety meds that morning and an overwhelming sensation started taking over me.
Suddenly, I wasn’t interested in the story she was telling me, or the feelings she was having. I couldn’t zero in on what she was trying to say, and found myself nodding often in ‘faked interest”.
After about an hour, the unthinkable followed my distraction from her tales.
I told her I had stuff to do and had to get busy. I actually cut her off during a 4th round of sobs and said, “Okay, well I have a ton of things to get done, so I should get busy”. I stood up casually and watched her walk off of my deck, looking sidelong at me, as if I had beat her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.
WHAT KIND OF PERSON DOES THAT! I AM A HORRIBLE PERSON AND FRIEND!
As she sulked her way out of my yard, I felt my heart sink with guilt and sadness for her. I almost chased her down to tell her to come back, but my feet wouldn’t move from under me. I watched sadly as she drove away and I reached to my hubby for a hug. He looked at me confused, as he was busy trying to move some items out of the garage at the time. He dismissed my reach for him with a “what?” and wouldn’t return it. I felt like that was Karma speaking to me. I felt like the worst friend ever and didn’t deserve a hug.
As I went back into the house and slumped onto the sofa, feeling awful and rejected, I thought about the morning with my friend. I went back in my mind to her teary arrival and mentally recounted the visit with her.
THEN IT CAME TO ME.
The anxiety in me was probably maxed out for the day. I hadn’t taken a dose of meds that may have helped me to focus more effectively on my friend’s issues. Perhaps I was having an off day and her continually unhappiness just made me uncomfortable and impatient feeling. I have heard so many stories and struggles of her and this guy, that I have grown tired of giving advice, over and over to her.
But, mostly, I think I need to just NOT be the ONE anymore. I feel as though I have absorbed and listened to so many problems and frustrations and challenges from my friends that I am just full. I need an extended break from giving support and feedback and opinions, and my own experiences, away. I need to ease out of the tribe who have these expectations of me. The time has come, perhaps, for me to step away from this role, and hope that I still have these friends when I do. If they choose to longer call me their friends, I suppose it will answer all of my questions.
I am and always have been, so thankful for my friends. However, in light of this new realization, it make me wonder if the love I have for them is truly reciprocated or if I am merely a big sister/mother figure for them, who is good enough to help, but not important enough for their help.
Perhaps, I need to find a new version of myself. Maybe that version of me could be my new best friend.