Thursday, 19 September 2013

Its what a friend would do

My Myers-Briggs personality profile is ESFJ, and a big part of that 'style' is wanting harmony for myself and others. A less forgiving person once described me as a ''unity addict''. Once I got over the insult, I realised she was probably about right.

Many years ago, when my marriage was performing the dying swan, I did my best to keep it a secret.  It was only later, much later, that friends and family offered observations on what they had seen happening. Many commented on how sad they felt about what had happened, which was nice to hear, and how they ''didn't know what to do'' which was...unsurprising but also disappointing.  At the time, there wasn't a single person in my/our circle of friends who was separated or divorced, so I guess no one really had any experience of the demise of a relationship. On the other hand, I wonder if maybe one, just one, person had said, STOP! don't give up just yet!, maybe it might have made a difference. I'll never know.

Over the past few years, I've had the unfortunate experience of seeing many other relationships fail.  No matter what the circumstances, its always sad. But in particular, the ones who from the outside at least, appear to be strong and potential-filled, hold an extra dimension of sadness.  There are ALWAYS cases of friends who clearly were not right for each other, or had overwhelming odds. But even that, in my ''unity addict'' mind doesn't make it any happier or easier when the demise actually comes.

So, after hearing ''I didn't know what to do/I wish I had done something'' so many times, I made a promise to myself, that should I find myself on that side of the fence, I would do whatever I could to help the person who came to me.  This isn't about fixing someone Else's relationship. About interfering in their business.  But is IS about being proactively supportive, encouraging, and offering to do whatever the person needs. And by that I mean not just saying ''call me if you need me'', because it's likely that someone in crisis won't call.  It means really being there for them.  Including offering advice if it's asked for - and shutting up when it isn't., but also being sensitively honest when sharing my own thoughts, rather than just saying what I think someone might want to hear.

So this week, I had cause to be in this very situation. I could have said ''there there'', 'cos to be honest I really am not feeling like being a supportive friend for someone else right now.  But I didn't. I literally dropped everything. Sat and listened, cried with a friend.  When she asked for some advice I offered it. (Not sure that I am a good person to be asking for advice but anyway). And the advice I gave was this:  Take a breath. Talk to each other. Remember what you loved about him in the first place. It might feel squashed but that doesn't mean it's dead''.  I didn't say ''I think you're wrong'' or ''I think you're right'' or even ''far out that sounds impossible'', I just suggested she take some time before doing anything big. I wanted to say ''don't do it!'' and the time may come for me to say that - if I'm asked. Still, I reckon sometimes another persons perspective is what you need. Even if it isn't want you want - or even need - to hear.

Now, these guys will work it out for themselves, or not.  Who knows. I hope they do.  Its hard to put my own agenda aside of course (I want everyone to live happily ever after...), but I will not just sit by and do nothing, whilst people I care about are struggling. I never want to be the person that said ''oh I wish I'd said something''.

1 comment:

  1. A year on and they have worked it out. Stoked I am. Stoked.

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