TRUE FRIENDSHIP PART II
I'm re-running this post because the comments were so awesome. I've been thinking about this question of true friendship all week, and your thoughtful comments have helped me hone in on my "answer." It's part of a bigger theory I've been working on: some things just need to crash. I think for me, personally, the tendency is so great to "help" that I may not see the widescreen view - the one that shows the need for things to get worse, before they can start to get better.
And isn't any advice I would give just that, advice? What the hell do I know? I don't know what the greater plan is for any given person's life. I don't know if the "wrong" choices they are making are leading to something greater. I. Don't. Know.
I like what Wanda said about advice vs. support: "Support always has the highest good of the person as a goal. It isn't advice per se. It could be observations, concerns, or even questions that allow the person to see or wonder for herself where this path leads. One thing is certain, support is not support if it is capricious or randomly pulled away. It is constant."
St. Teresa of Avila said, "Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love."
So it's back to love. I can "hold space" with another in crisis. I can listen. When asked, I can offer that I'm concerned. But really, all I can do is love. And that's enough. And everything.
Got an e-mail this morning from a friend that is at Medugorje. She visited a community that is devoted to healing those suffering from addictions (but remember, I only have a "dependency.") She said, "They focus on spiritual healing, and true friendship. Their kind of friendship was about being real and being true to one another, not just saying what one wants to hear."
Reminded me of a dear friend of mine who each week trudges her brave soul to 1:1 therapy to excavate deep childhood trauma, then she trudges back again later in the week for "group" where a room full of trauma survivors hold each other's feet to the fire, while loving and supporting each other every step of the way.
Asked another friend recently what she does when someone she loves is making what she considers to be a poor choice, does she tell them? Does she pretend to support it? She said she tells them she'll pray for them, which seems both kind and wise.
Lady at the hairdresser's yesterday was getting her perm cut off - had been getting her hair permed for over 20 years until a friend one day innocently asked, "Have you ever thought of not perming your hair?" She'd never thought about it.
Now it's one thing to talk about perms and a whole other thing to talk about major life decisions.
When is support, support, and when is it not, and how do you "know" the difference?
*Photo from www.medjugorje-online.com
Is 'friend' SP? As for the question.....still trying to fathom that one myself.
Tough question. My first instinct is to say that when the 'support' is pure and benevolent, without any intent to tear down the other person or build up yourself, then it's support. I tend to avoid giving 'advice' until I really know the person well, though, so that I don't stick my nose in where it doesn't belong.
Thanks for the food for thought today.
After a while, you being to trust your instincts and faith, and probably make some mistakes along the way, but sooner or later you acquire the tools to tell them apart.
i struggled with this issue with a dear friend not long ago. i decided to tell her that i didn't think that the decisions she was making would serve her well - that i didn't think that she was ultimately going to make herself happy on that particular path. i then told her that as her friend, i hoped that i was wrong. and that having said what i'd said, i'd be there for her every step of the way.
unfortunately, i was not wrong. she found herself heartbroken and angry. but she also had a friend to turn to when it fell apart.
your heart will tell you what your friend can or can't hear. you'll know.
Michelle O'Neil said...
Support is seeing who someone really is, and holding that vision of them, even if they are not acting like "who they really are" in the moment.
Support always comes from a place of connectedness. If you think you are supporting someone, but feel diminished after offering said support, that is martyrdom, not support.
Support is also the elusive perfectly fitting bra.
Ooooh! I love what Michelle said. I'm going to have to write that down.
Good food for thought.
Tanya @ TeenAutism said...
Good question - I think it's difficult to tell the difference. Sometimes when someone who is connected to me appears to be offering support, it feels more like unwarranted criticism. But it could just be my dynamic with that particular person. Tough one!
Support always has the highest good of the person as a goal. It isn't advice per se. It could be observations, concerns, or even questions that allow the person to see or wonder for herself where this path leads. One thing is certain, support is not support if it is capricious or randomly pulled away. It is constant.
And it is what Michelle said about the bra.
support without judgement is support...:) ANd often it's not what you say but HOW you say it:)
Interesting. I thought the image was of Quan Yin, but I see the townsfolk expect it to be the Blessed Virgin. Some might think them different incarnations of the same being.
I too have been grappling with this issue of support and how best to be in compassion for another who seems determined to destroy all that is good in her life. I love your friend's response to pray. Send love. Pray. Send love.
Then of course, some of us may have residual feelings of betrayal, anger, impatience--all the uncompassionate feelings that arise when a loved one is in crisis and making choices with which we don't agree. That's when I try to remind myself in time--before I say or do something harmful--that I am the only one responsible for what I am feeling and so must send love. Pray. Send love.
Thank you for this thought-provoking post. It helps me immensely to see others faced with similar situations and learn of their process.
Angie Ledbetter said...
Tough, especially when it's someone you love dearly. I try to support whatever is best for the soul of that person...whether they know it or want it or not.
Thanks for posting that picture. New to me, and lovely as your post.
Deb Shucka said...
It's that still small voice of love from your heart that gives you the right words, or no words.
Enough but not too much.
Hardest damn thing in the world.
I am reading a book on personal growth and one of the ideas is that we should always be struggling or working on something. The authors believe we should have a small group in which we can ask and be honestly answered, what could I do to be a better person? Wow, I don't know that I am ready for that honesty and then sometimes I think how freeing it could be. Because with with "advice" has to come total acceptance -- first.
In other words, I have no wisdom to offer on this subject, but I love to hear your thoughts.