Can you be them all? It’s a question I’ve struggled with for quite a while.
Perhaps my wondering started when a drunken Romanian woman, free of polite inhibitions, declared that the reason American women need more psychologists is because their American friendships are too superficial. According to her, we restrict ourselves to niceties, avoiding blunt or painful truths. As a result, we need outside help to deal with our problems.
In her home village, friends were resigned to each other. Friendships endured over generations, through rifts and spats. Good advice was always given, even when it made the giver massively unpopular.
She might have a point. When a friend asked me if she was right to get a divorce, I demurred. I wasn’t at all sure she was right. I told her that it was too big of a personal decision for me to weigh in with my opinion. I would (and did) support her, whatever she decided.
In that case, I was perhaps a supportive friend, a loyal friend. I wasn’t a totally honest friend. In the end, I’m not sure where that leaves me on the “good friend” scale.
We often don’t “speak our truths,” to our friends. Sometimes we are simply chicken. Many times, it’s because we are sure that they don’t want to hear it. Honesty, even tactful, loving honesty, can cut and hurt. It can feel judgmental. It can end relationships. If we’re the “honest” one, chances are we’re not going to be around (or welcome) to be the supportive one.
My truths: I want everyone to like me—all the time. I’m slow on the uptake. I miss opportunities to say something meaningful. Instead of “Are you sure that’s how you want to handle the situation?” I say, “uh-huh….” I want to do it all—be honest, loving, supportive, forgiving, and good.
My bigger truth: I don’t know where or when to draw the line when honest and supportive are mutually exclusive.
What do you think? Please comment, I’d love to cogitate on others’ points of view.
© Laura Hedgecock 2013
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