My happiness is not just about me

Television shows and films are full of friendship groups. Whatever misadventures the protagonists must deal with, they will turn to their good friends for emotional support. Teenage girls will indulge in open and meaningful discussions as they lie around in each other’s bedrooms; women will sit down with close friends and a few bottles of wine to spill out their concerns for all to debate and put right; men will open up their hearts at a ball game or barbeque, sit down on a park bench with a long known mate at a key moment, or seek out a female friend and show an emotional side previously unknown. All can talk freely without fear of judgement. Does this ever happen in real life?

Perhaps there are plenty of people out there who can totally rely on a few individuals to always be there for them, however messed up they may be. These wonderful people will drop everything they may be involved with at any time, open their doors and their hearts to accept and forgive whatever behaviour has caused the grief. They will support without judgement, regularly and reliably wiping away the tears and helping the sufferer to move on. Whatever is happening in their personal space, they will put their own lives aside when needed.

I have and have had many, lovely friends over the years but the only person I have felt comfortable opening up entirely to is my sister. I would never expect her to drop everything in her life to support me though. I recognise that she has her own experiences to enjoy, issues to deal with and family to support. I really don’t know if I am unusual in being unable to expose my innermost feelings to friends or if this is typical. Perhaps the fictional portrayal is just another simplification for the sake of brevity and entertainment. Perhaps it is real and just beyond my ability to experience.

This past year has been challenging for me in terms of dealing with the way I am and the way I am thinking and feeling. I needed to put my thoughts in order but found when I tried to talk about what I was going through the listeners did not react as I needed. I turned to this blog instead; in writing it down I was able to understand myself a little better and the feedback I received was also helpful. In my experience, oversharing face to face causes embarrassment and the issues are too often misunderstood. I found it hard to be as open in conversation as I could be when I wrote.

During the worst days of my mini meltdown, other’s views did not penetrate. There were a few comments left that helped; these did not offer solutions but rather simple validation and support. I needed to know that I was not going mad, that I was not being unreasonable in wishing to be heard and my needs considered if not agreed with. I needed time to move on and experience the gradual improvement that, deep down, I knew would come. I was never anything like as bad as other friends are and have been. I came across this blog post on how a true depressive can feel:  http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.co.uk/, but it would be unhelpful to those who suffer to claim that I understand.

I value my friends highly; old, new, face to face and on line. I am grateful for their presence in my life; I hope that they will continue to be there. I also think that many of us live our lives hiding much of what we think or do from the world, even those we may feel close to. We wish to be well thought of and court good opinion. We choose to act the part we want to be, maintaining the illusion by never speaking of what goes on backstage.

Although I recognise that I am responsible for my own happiness, I would not be happy without others around. Man is a sociable creature and will thrive in a welcoming crowd. Whilst I have no wish to return to the large gatherings of cheerful, partying people that I once enjoyed; I still gain so much from meeting up with those I care about to chat and share. I may temper what I say and select topics carefully, but I still gain emotional nourishment from these encounters.

Are there people out there who can be totally open with a group of friends? Perhaps my problem is more one of feeling the need to be myself. Perhaps others get by just fine being the person that they allow the world to see.

It is unhelpful to suggest that we have failed at friendship if we have failed to find a group who live as closely together as those portrayed in fictional shows. Any friendship depends on the character of the individuals involved. In the ebb and flow of life, all are affected by their differing experiences and will react and change over time in ways unknown. True friends will weather the storms and accept the changes. How can they be there every step of the way though, when they have their own lives to live?

Friendship bracelet

2 comments on “My happiness is not just about me

  1. Mary Dodd says:

    In many instances, when I’ve shared my innermost thoughts, it’s only invited the listener to share theirs and then the conversation quickly turns to them and their needs. I don’t share very much any more. I just let people know briefly what I’m going through so they can understand my strange mood, but then leave it at that. Sadly.

  2. That last paragraph nailed it. I think friendship is portrayed in a way that’s so unrealistic. Communication is much more complicated.

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