(I usually try to put in a picture or song that fits the post. This time, I just really like this song. Please listen to it if you need a cool song as background for your reading.)
Next weekend, Jennifer and I are attending a conference through The Voices and Faces Project. We are excited to go and bring back all the useful information we can. We are also excited because we get to spend time together, as friends and as business partners and work on next steps and planning for the year.
In order to go to the conference and not come home immediately after, I had to do some juggling. I also had to ask for help from a friend. That was not easy for me. At all. I’m not used to having to ask for help. My friend, being the amazing person she is, did not bat an eye. She said, “Yes, of course.” I started to cry. Then she told me not to cry so she didn’t start crying.
It is was in part that I’m not used to asking for help, but a large part of it was that I don’t like to bother people. I don’t like my need to infringe on plans they had, or that they might just not want to help me with what I need.
This, I know, is not a healthy attitude. I have learned that friends, true friends are the ones willing to reciprocate. If they need help, they ask. If I need help, it’s okay to ask for that too. It is also okay for the other person to say no. It is also okay for me to say no.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and as a born-people pleaser, I’m not used to enforcing the boundary to say no. I have gotten better at it, but it is still hard. What if the person is mad that I said no? What if they have no other options? What if. What if. What if.
None of that does me any good. It does not do my friend any good either. It isn’t healthy for our friendship. It might seem like it is healthy to them, but in the long run, it isn’t.
I have learned that I do not need to chase people. If they never call me back or only text me when they need something, that is not a very equal relationship. It is not life-giving or nurturing.
Quite frankly, it’s really, really draining.
If I give all my energy to someone else, there isn’t any left for me and my family. There isn’t enough left to go do things I enjoy or that Jeff and I enjoy doing together.
My friend, in his or her need, may feel better. He or she may feel great. She just got everything she needed and got to dump all her concern on someone else. I end up feeling terrible and drained.
My friend reminded me of a very important lesson I sometimes try to forget. I have helped her. She has helped me. Most of the time, though, we are just friends. We have lunch or coffee, or go to a flower show. We enjoy each other’s company and the relationship is based on friendship and trust. It isn’t needy or draining for either of us.
The same is true with an intimate relationship. If one person is doing everything and the other person is taking everything, it isn’t very stable or mutually respectful. Mostly, it’s just draining. I have been in those relationships before. I did not find them any fun at all.
So thank you to my friend for being genuine and kind. I needed the help; and the reminder.
How have your relationships evolved to be more mutual?
What ways do you still need to work on boundaries and not be drained?