Following on from my post about ''getting involved'' a couple of weeks ago, I am pretty stoked to learn that (in part) as a result of my sticking my nose in, the couple I talked about are getting themselves on track. How awesome is that!
I've had cause to talk about that particular post with a number of people, and almost without exception they have agreed that whilst the ideal is to be brave enough to have an opinion, most don't do it. There's a variety of reasons, but largely it's simply that - and no one would actually admit to it - most people are pretty busy with their own lives and really don't have the time, or inclination to get involved with someone Else's. It involves risk, it involves commitment, and it also just might mean some inconvenience where you really don't want or need it.
But here's the thing. Experience tells me that one of the perils of social and electronic media (and I've written about this before) is how easy it is to offer the commitment of non commitment. Things like ''well come and visit me sometime'', or ''you know I'm here at the end of the phone if you need me''. It invites the troubled person to make the first move...to be supportive without actually giving real support. Not always a bad thing, granted, as there are plenty of times that a person hurting just needs to know that there is someone there if they need them.
But, and for me this is a BIG but...for the person who is hurting, especially when it is as a result of a problem in a relationship (IE the person you are closest to is now no longer the one you can call on for support), there can be a real reluctance to actually ask for help or support from outside. Fear of what you might be told, fear of having to talk about something painful, whatever, its really easy for the hurting person to retreat within themselves. I know, I've done it.
I've read a number of things that describe love as an action. That it's about ''showing up'' emotionally, not just going along for the ride.
Well, actually I think it's also as much about showing up physically. I was told recently by someone newly separated that I was the only person who had actually checked in regularly -the only one who had actually ''turned up'' physically in this persons life. That both shocked and saddened me. Where were the friends? They had offered support, absolutely - call me, text me, visit me. But none had actually got on the phone, or in the car, and showed up. I even asked a couple of them...did you call yet? Visit? And if not why not? And I got the same response...oh well, it's not really my journey...they know where I am...I don't really know what to do/say (as per http://single-minded-endeavours.blogspot.co.nz/2013/09/its-what-friend-would-do.html)
Yes there's a risk. There's a huge risk that the person you doorstep will tell you to go away. The person you phone will say ''I don't want to talk about it''. The opinion you give (if asked for it or not) will be rejected or denied. You might even find yourself being rejected in the moment - for whatever reason, your presence, at that time, is not welcome or needed. Maybe you represent something the hurting person doesn't want to see or feel. Maybe they are talked out.
Frankly, I don't give a damn. People who are hurting need people to show up. Regardless of the ending and who did it, someone who has just left a relationship is sore - they are probably feeling unloved or unlovable. As the supportive friend, you're probably not the one they want to feel loved by but that doesn't mean you shouldn't love them anyway. They might not appreciate it at the time - you might not be the right person, and the timing might really really suck - but at least they need to know that someone - maybe more than just one - actually cares about them. Sometimes it means giving an unpopular opinion - sometimes it means just listening (personally I'm in favour of the unpopular opinion, because I reckon 99% of the time, that's the truth. Listening and empathising does little more than make a hurt person feel better about their hurt - often necessary, sometimes the easy option ).
Yes, I've been told I'm unwelcome. Yes it hurts. And I know when to take my leave. But in my world, it is about showing up. Putting your money where your mouth is, and actually being there for someone when they need you, even if they don't admit to it.