I’ve always had difficulty in understanding other people. I was never the popular girl at school, I never had loads of friends. As a young wife and mother, I never had neighbours around my house every day, chit chatting and gossiping away the hours between school runs.
As I got older I realised I never actually missed any of these friendships either.
I also realised that the friends I do have mean a lot to me. Sometimes we may not get in touch for ages, sometimes we only keep in touch on Facebook (or even e-mail.) Sometimes I realise that I haven’t thought about my friends as much as I should and I try to make up for that with a message to see if all is okay. Sometimes, I get in touch with them because I need to tell them something good, or offload my worries.
The friends I have, have been there for many years. Even though we don’t see each other as often as some friends do, they are my friends and I love them.
Sometimes, though, friendships end.
I find this hard to understand. Was I too needy, was I too boring, did I say something wrong?
Often, it’s just that the friendship has run it’s course. It’s okay, we can still message each other and there is always Facebook if we need to catch up and phone numbers have changed or been lost.
Other times, friends can turn and be nasty.
I recently had someone I considered a friend turn on me on Facebook. She said some really unkind things. She hurt me. I tried to reason with her but she wasn’t having any of it, once she’d started she didn’t stop.
She is going through a rough time at the moment and I really feel for her. But does that excuse her attack?
I must have said something that triggered her attack. I had noticed her little ‘digs’ at me in the previous weeks, so I had a feeling I’d upset her. But I thought that maybe I was reading it wrong, because she was a friend wasn’t she?
It affected me badly for a while, I even took a break from Facebook…yeah, it was that bad! (No, seriously, I think I’ve posted on FB nearly every day for eleven years!) I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone, that everyone was siding with her because what she’d said was true. Nasty and cruel, but true all the same. I felt so vulnerable. So hurt.
I do talk about myself a lot on Facebook. I talk about what I’m going through with my illness, I complain sometimes when the pain is too much to bear. I talk about my hospital visits and give updates on my condition. I do all this on MY Facebook page, and on other’s pages I offer support and kindness. I thought that was what Facebook was about. How silly of me.
I opened up, I let my feelings out. Maybe not all the time for everyone to see, but certainly for my friends. I trusted them wholeheartedly. I let them see parts of me that I normally hide away.
I am generally afraid of being vulnerable, I’m scared of what people think of me. I have many faults and I know about them. What I don’t like is others pointing them out, calling me out, telling everyone that I’m not perfect.
I KNOW I’m not PERFECT, but I don’t need my so called friends to shout about it. That’s not friendship. That’s not the kind of connection I crave.
Taking the Opportunity to Teach Myself
I’ve learnt something important. In fact I’ve learnt a lot of things.
My ‘friend’ is now gone, blocked and silenced. I didn’t want to do it, I thought she would need all her friends at this time. But it seems that she’s blocked and silenced a lot of our mutual friends too. She no longer wants to be part of our circle. Our group that has supported each other for so many years.
Lesson number one;
terminal illnesses can make people act strangely, turning away the people who care about them the most.
It’s not just when faced with something as awful as a terminal illness though. When you are feeling that you are in a bad place it’s natural to numb things, to dampen your emotions. The problem is, you can’t selectively numb your emotions, so when you want to forget about feeling angry or sad, you will also forget about feeling happy. This makes you feel uncomfortable and you actively seek ways of blaming others, or anything. Blaming gives you a sense of discharge of your emotions. The only problem is, it works on all your emotions, not just your bad ones.
Lesson number two;
I find it difficult to express my real feelings, I have trouble making myself vulnerable. I do overshare sometimes, but it’s because I don’t want to hide everything. It helps me to get through each day, and when I let my feelings out I get feedback from my friends and family that make me feel better. For the first time in my life I’ve started to open up. And since opening up my circle of friends has grown.
Vulnerability equals openness and connection.
Having someone turn on me and tell me that I only ever think of myself made me retract into my shell. For a while I felt so hurt, so betrayed, so angry. I’d made myself vulnerable and someone had come along and struck me down. The division of my remaining friends became very clear. Sides where taken. This lady was even more vulnerable than me so she needed the attention not me. She made me feel like I was wrong, I was the bad person.
Vulnerability equals being open to attack. But So long as you still have self worth then you ride it through. Yes, you can be hurt, but blocking it out means you block everything else, like joy and happiness.
Lesson Number three:
I don’t care what anyone thinks about me as long as I’m loved by those I love.
Yes, I am a loner without a huge group of friends. Yes, I find it difficult to make new friends. But, I am learning how to be more open with my feelings, how to allow myself to be vulnerable and open my heart. I don’t crave attention, but sometimes it makes me feel better. I need connection, I don’t want to be alone. I will always keep my loved ones close to my heart but I hope that my children learn to be less like the way I’ve always been. I want them to be open and face everything in life wholeheartedly. I want them to believe they are worthy of love and belonging. I will teach them to let themselves be seen and never numb their emotions. I want them to have the courage to be imperfect without shame and treat others with compassion and kindness.
I took the hurt and turned it into a learning opportunity, and now I feel grateful.
“A Warrior takes every opportunity to teach himself.” Paulo Cohelho
Here is a Ted Talk ‘The power of vulnerability’ by Brené Brown Well worth 20 minutes of your time.