Thursday, November 7, 2013

Friendship Struggle

"I didn't want to hear what you would say."
"I knew what you would say."
"I didn't want you to judge me."
"You would point out the red flags and all the warnings I should have caught."

I just got off the phone with one of my best friends. She was upset, hurting, crying. She told me...

"I haven't told you about this, because I knew what you would say. I know you would never and haven't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (she really did use that many "evers") rubbed it in my face or say 'I told you so'. But I always know it,  I always know that you're right, and I don't want to face it and I have to when I talk to you."

She isn't the only person to tell me this. So many people in my life (seriously, so many. I would venture to say well over 85% of the people in my life who we actually have a legit relationship) tell me these things.

Especially when it comes to relationships.
I don't know what to do about it, how I'm supposed to feel about this, if I'm supposed to change, what's the most right, if this is good, if this is bad, if this is helpful, if this is hurtful.

My friends are afraid to tell me things (bad).
My friends tell me I'm almost always right (good?)
My friends are afraid I'll judge them (bad).
My friends know and believe that I won't ever rub anything in their face (good).

I sometimes ask these questions, when my friends finally tell me whatever it was they were holding back:
What red flags would I have pointed out/why would I point out red flags?
Why do you think I would have thought this was a bad idea?
Why did you fear my reaction?
Why didn't you think I'd support this?
Why did you think I'd have that reaction?
What do you think my reasons are for cautioning you (or whatever)?
What do you think my "goals" are for you?
Do you think our goals are the same?

And always. Always. Always. They are able to answer those questions. The response has never been "I don't know, Ashley. I don't know why you would point out red flags, I think you're just a judgmental jerk. I don't think you care about my happiness. This was a good idea, I don't think it's right for you to think it's not. I think you want me to not do anything with my life. I don't think you want me to have a relationship."
Never have any of those things ever been said, hinted at, or thought.

My friends are always able to identify the red flags, the warnings. They know they exist.
My friends always respond to the fearing reaction question and why I wouldn't fully support something with "because I knew you'd be right"
My friends always say my reaction matches the situation.
My friends are always able to identify my reasons for cautioning them.
And they always answer the goals questions with "because you care about me".

Every single friend. Every single time. (And believe me, it's been A LOT of times with A LOT of friends. And a lot of times with the same friends. Almost every friendship, we've been through this conversation.)

So that still leaves me in the dark. I don't know what to do.
My friends don't think I judge them, but always fear I will.
My friends know I care about them.
My friends know I don't ever rub anything in their face.
My friends know I don't ever make them feel bad about their choices/decisions/actions.
My friends know I can identify when something may not be all rainbows and sunshines.
My friends know I can identify when someone may not treat them well.

But my friends are afraid to tell me things.
My friends don't want to tell me things.
My friends keep things from me.
My friends are afraid of my reactions.
My friends think I'll judge them.

Am I a good friend because of this.
Or am I bad friend because of this.

Am I thinking about this too black/white, pro/con (If you notice, those were all broken into pro/con lists), too either/or?

Do I need to change?
Am I supposed to change?
Am I helpful?
Is my process beneficial?

If you've been in this situation with me.

How many things have you decided not to tell me because you either feared my reaction, assumed my reaction, thought I'd be mad, thought I would judge you, etc?

Or, perhaps to make it more "strengths based"
How many times have you thought about what you assumed my response would be and took that into account and that changed your actions/made an impact?

You don't have to give details, I don't need/want an explanation, we don't need to discuss it. You can just say a lot, a few, never, almost everything, more so recently, more so in the past, whatever.

I asked someone this questions and they told me, "I don't think I have ever not told you anything but a few times I have procrastinated tell  you in fear of your reaction"

And then they said, "It is because you are so influential. I value your thoughts and opinions."
Another friend told me, "But I trust my relationship with you and what you have to say plays a big impact on what I think".

So maybe. I'm doing okay.

1 comment:

  1. STOP doubting yourself. Are we not in that same position as your friends are many times in our own lives? Your parents, close friends, and even God himself we are frightened to go to because we fear what may happen. Is that fear really rational half the time? Is God going to be ashamed of us or deny us? Will our parents disown us? Will our best friends turn against us? It is not rational to think those things, yet we still fear to go before them. Many times this feeling is because we know we did wrong or think we might hear something we don't want to hear. You are a voice of reason in a lot of ways. The very fact that people are scared of approaching you in these times show how much of an influence and how valued your relationship with them really is. If they were not moved by what you said, there would be no fear. Fear is a self inflicted thing, fear comes from our flesh, leads us to do things that are going to either not be right or delay it in situations like these. Fear can be a great powerful thing though as well. Fear can lead us to do the right thing. The fear of having to go before and tell you or your parents or God can be enough to make you change your actions. I lost track of where I was going with all of this, but there is some food for thought.