I didn’t know what to say to my friends about what happened. So I told them little pieces, bit by bit. For a while, some thought I’d been assaulted by a stranger instead of someone I knew. Some people I didn’t tell at all, til way after the fact.
Very quickly it became clear whom amongst my friends it was easiest to talk to. As the cliché goes, I found out who my friends are – or rather, what sort of stuff they are made of.
Some people clearly didn’t want to know. They might have appeared sympathetic, but it was simply lip service. Or they would talk to me about anything except how I was doing. Others wanted to be there… but didn’t have the wherewithal to cope. There was a small number of people who simply disappeared from my life. I’m fairly certain that an even tinier number of my friends judged me for what happened in some way…
Thankfully, there was a handful or two who could be there in some capacity – I’m grateful for them all! What I found however, was the enquiries into how I was lessened over time. Really, they just wanted me to ‘get better’ and as fast as possible.
You see, no one really wants to deal with trauma over an extended period of time. This is one of the reasons I think a lot of people end up suffering in silence.
The friends who helped the most were those who didn’t wait to find out how I was. They would ring me, they’d proactively focus on the topic and when I talked, they listened with their ears and their hearts wide open. When they did have something to say, it was always heartfelt and insightful.
J & CB, you gals know who you are. Kudos also to a male buddy P. I’m so incredibly blessed to have you in my life.
Another good pal who couldn’t be there at the time, but who also falls into this category is LittleBigGirl – almost all of my friendship with this awesome chick has been conducted whilst she’s been living in London. We met not long before she was going overseas and in the ensuing years we’ve caught up a handful of times and emailed a lot!
But I wanted to say this – I don’t think less of those who were unable to be as supportive as I would have liked. I don’t judge them or think less of them in any way. Why?
Well, not everyone has the emotional strength to deal with someone else’s trauma and depression. It’s a lot. It is dark and its heavy going. And for a long time I wasn’t sure I was coming out the other side.
And there are those, like my mother, who are full to the brim with their own long-term and un-dealt with trauma. Or my father, who grew up in an emotionally defective home, and simply doesn’t know how to handle emotions very well.
Sure it can be disappointing to find out how things really are with your friends, but if they love you they’ll do what they can. And if they don’t, then it’s a great time to clear out those friends who are more work than anything else.
It’s liberating actually, to know the measure of your friends. To know which ones you can truly rely on for the hard stuff.
Ultimately, this experience has taught me that more than anything, the work that’s required to heal, is my own. A million heart-to-hearts with your friends will never get you there – not with something this serious.
It’s also not fair to over-burden your friends. The darkest stuff needs to be dealt with by a therapist or other professional healer. And eventually that’s what I did.