Friends are the family we choose. We pick them, we stand by them, and when needful, we change them. Challenges can make or break any friendship or relationship. The general assumption being that it was never meant to be. But what of situations where both parties were not ready to let go?
I have lost friends because of crisis happening in either our lives. I have pushed people away and people have pushed me away. It’s a normal human reaction during stress. I’ve had cases where I felt relieved talking to a stranger and the familiarity of my friends brought fear of judgement and criticism. I also happen to be someone afraid of criticism even though I still take it. As comforting as the idea is to push everyone away and try to “solve it on your own’, I’m here to remind you that it is not the best approach. Being in college can be difficult especially if you have to juggle all your responsibilities with any kind of struggle outside of your academics. Friends tend to be a good support for anyone in stress. The worst kind of situation to be in is when you and all your friends happen to be in the same dilemma at the same time.
There was a time I and my girlfriend were going through a breakup,emotional crisis at the exact same time. We would come to school and sit on the bench, stare into the nothingness and just sigh all day. The silence was painful but comfortable at the same time. On some days, when we felt like talking or we reached a new low, we would speak, usually with the other doing only listening with no contribution whatsoever. Why this system worked for us was that we had come to a very good understanding of each other. We knew each other’s reaction to such situations so it was relatively easy. It only took three years and a lot of awkward silences.Now that I think of it I’m very grateful to God that I met her. She’s one person but she’s all the trouble and support I need at the same time.IT became even funnier when we both had money issues, emotional stress and spiritual breakdown at the same time. I guess not only your cycles align when you hang around someone too much.
My other friend who reads a lot of psychology says you should not expect anyone to behave rationally when going through stress or grief but somewhere deep down, beneath the chaos that we might be experiencing, we still know what we’re doing wrong and why our behavior is unacceptable. We expect that our friends, if not anyone else should be understanding and patient as we feel we would do the same for them. Truth is, it gets tiring and exhausting and some days, even you would want to throw in the towel.
COMMUNICATION is all that is necessary. A second just to say “I know I must be difficult to deal with but thank you for hanging in there” could save a friendship from unnecessary death. A friend once said to me when he was having really difficult times “My priorities are right here”, he said, gesturing to the level of his chin, “and you’re right here”, he said pointing to the level of his knee. “If I ever get to you, then we can talk, but for now I have too many things on my mind”. Words cannot describe how much pain I felt in my heart then. Even in the pain I managed to understand that he had his whole world falling apart and there was nothing he could do to help it so he was feeling very frustrated and helpless but those were harsh words for someone who was quite close to him.
Needless to say, he never got to me, we don’t speak anymore despite my failed attempts at starting conversations and that friendship came to an abrupt end. It took months to gain closure because somehow I believed my approach warranted the response I got. I felt like it was my fault but it wasn’t. We have mutual friends and he still talks to all of them but me. I guess because I cared too much he decided to blame me for everything and I received his wrath which again is quite normal from a psychological perspective, it still hurt.
I realize that talking about issues is probably not a guy thing and I also realize that not talking doesn’t help the situation. I’ve read books that say guys need to go into hibernation to come up with a solution to the problem but none said what happens when for you, they never come out from that cave. As much as I respect how the human mind works, with a little practice and conscious effort, almost anything can be learned. TO my guys out there, while we ladies learn to understand your thought process, a one-liner summarizing the problem could save you a lot of drama and this is in a platonic relationship. “I feel overwhelmed right now but I’ll be okay, I just need a little time to myself” would save you drama from your mother, sister and even your girlfriend.
Pushing away is easy,coming back is not, especially if the other party concluded that you needed time and decided to give you space. They’d probably be waiting for you to show signs that you’re back from your retreat and then you realize that a rift exists and you’d be too scared to make the first move. While ideally a “good” friend should understand you and ‘be there’ for you, the reality of life is when you abandon people, they won’t be standing in the spot waiting for you. Life happens and time still exists.
Whatever hardships and crises you may be going through, don’t put friends through more than they have to go through. Even if they want to be there, life may not let them. When life gets hard hold onto friends tight, they might be hurting almost as much as you are and just want you to feel better.Value your friends and go easy on them.
I hope reading this helps save a friendship. Have you lost any friends because of hardship or crisis, personal or otherwise? Sound off in the comments.