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Stand by your…friends

I know everyone is fighting some sort of battle in their life, big or small. And, no matter what your battles are, whether they involve an illness, relationships, an addiction, an accident, or simply something in your head, they most likely are having an effect on you. 

I had a conversation with a friend not long ago who was struggling with family problems. One day, she went on for a few minutes venting her frustrations and confiding in me her feelings, and then all of a sudden she stopped. She said, “I’m so sorry to go on and on about my family. I know it’s nothing compared to what you are going through.”

It didn’t take me but a second to think about her comment.

In the grand scheme of things she was absolutely correct. My husband having a rare cancer and facing mortality is a much bigger deal than her having a family squabble. That’s my perspective. However, in her world it looks like a mountain in front of her without a solution for getting to the other side, and it has been a battle.

Just because my problems may be more critical than someone else’s doesn’t mean they deserve to feel less than me. In my life right now, cancer, and the mounding stress that comes with it, is the biggest obstacle; in hers it just happens to be something else. It’s not that she has less stress, less importance, less urgency, or less anything….it simply means we all have a right to feel how we feel.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT trying to get caught up in a daily gripe session about the kids not putting their shoes away or cleaning up their dishes, or any of that petty stuff. Sometimes we need to vent about those moments, but get it out, move on and keep it positive. Many times we lose sight of the blessings we have right in front of us.

As a friend, I have an obligation to do my part in a “give and take” relationship. It’s a two way street. If I want to have a good friend, yes, I need to be a good friend in return. And, sometimes that means putting feelings and problems to the side for a moment in order to help someone else deal with theirs. Otherwise, friendships can become unhealthy for potentially both parties. 

It’s OK to have one sided relationships periodically, but it’s not OK to camp out and live there. We are not obligated to assume others’ worries all the time, nor should we expect others to take on ours. We as women, and even human beings, owe it to one another to be supportive; however, we are not expected to carry their weight all the time. We all bring admirable characteristics to our friendships, or at least we should. After all, a friendship involves mutual (involving two parties) trust and support.

I think the biggest misconception people have when someone is going through a life crisis is to assume they can’t be bothered by anything or anyone. Just because we are going through something major in life doesn’t mean we don’t want to lend an ear to a friend in need. I’m not referring to making your problems an encumbrance for someone else, but simply sharing what’s going on in your life or seeking advice.

For me, helping a friend solve a problem, being concerned about others and caring about what’s going on in their corner of the world is not only my duty, but also, a welcome distraction. Stand by your friends, pick them up when they fall, have their back. If you can help someone, then help them!