A Letter to The Relationship Between Friendship and Mental Health

“I can’t begin to understand how you’re feeling. Quite honestly I don’t know if I want to because when I think about the times in my life where I didn’t want to deal with pain anymore, didn’t know how to pick myself up or how to fix or even try with my relationships I can’t see a turning point. I have no idea when things started to get better, at what break down I had let go finally of whatever piece of my life I was holding onto that anchored me to the bottom.

 I don’t think it was letting go at all, actually. The tides changed, and I was grounded instead of drowning and all that I had held on to became something to build from instead of something to try and get away from. And that’s the thing about life – you can’t get away from it. It keeps on so constantly it’s almost not there at all yet at the same time is completely inescapable.

 But it’s like that for all of us. And I think sometimes when we’re so focused on our own pain, and our own time that seems to be not moving or moving to quickly or just moving without purpose that we can forget how to empathize. And that’s okay. We can’t remember or be everything all the time. But we can also forget that even though our problems may run more deeply than others, we cannot compare other peoples perceived understanding and we cannot compare their pain either because it is all that each individual knows.

 Maybe the worst pain she knows is this heart break, maybe the worst pain I know is the death of my best friend, maybe the worst pain you know were your childhood experiences. Regardless, we all know what it’s like to hurt and we all relate because we have felt hurt. You don’t poke someones bruise and say “I know how this feels” because you don’t. We feel their skin, we see the trauma, but we don’t understand how much blood has seeped out or how much nerve has been damaged, or even how much pressure that other person can handle.

 Sometimes the hardest part about friendship is not being able to understand. There are times we don’t understand our own relationships. I don’t know if you’ve ever had people like this; had people who refuse to give up, who are open about their own hurts, but who also are all going through their own hurts. But these positions we put ourselves in are our choices and not our obligations. We CHOOSE to stand by you, by each other, by ourselves. And you need to choose to stand with us, too.

 You are not always going to invited out, you are going to need to invite yourself. We are not always going to be awake, or free, or unoccupied.  You cannot put anyone in the position to be a caregiver – whether or not those are your intentions. By jumping to conclusions, following how you feel, and letting that guide your thinking, you are making us responsible for you making how you feel your reality.  And it’s not your reality. Acknowledge these feelings, they are valid and there is still truth behind them – but that is YOUR truth and your truth only.

 How things are intended and how they are taken are not equal. Logic and emotion don’t go hand in hand; I truly do understand how hard it is to separate the two. I never want you to stop telling the world how you feel, or asking for help, or simply saying what’s on your mind. We are here to listen to you as best as we can. But you need to be your own friend too and be able to say to yourself “I deserve to keep the love that I am trying to give” instead of trying to give to receive.

 There is never going to be an equilibrium, there is no balance or way of being. Being a friend is as hard as being an individual and each relationship is as different. I don’t think friendship is hard because of who you are, it’s hard because it’s new to you. You need to stop blaming yourself for the difficulties in your life and the challenges in your relationships because they happen everywhere, all the time. There are rifts and tears and flaws in every individuals relationships – whether you see them or not – and you can never compare things that have been built over years and lifetimes to something that has been in the works for a few months, or days, or when two new souls have met because not all of us are soul mates as much as we are meant to be in this life together.

 Everyone is supportive of you in the best way we know how, and sometimes that’s in the admittance that there are times we don’t know how to support you. And that’s okay. We need to not take responsibility for what your reactions and emotions to what we say are. And you also need to not hold us responsible for your emotions either.

 I love you. We all love you. This is hard for everyone. We’re all learning – and every friendship is different and has to be learned over and over again. Have as much patience as you can. I’m so sorry this is hard, and I’m so sorry that you carry the weight of it all with you.”

An edited excerpt of something that I sent to a friend.

I think there are times we all become dependant in a way of those we surround ourselves with. We feel safe and comfortable and we rely on them at times to make us feel this way when other obstacles in life endanger the good. But your communities are there to support you not be your life support and some of us need to – or have needed to – find the difference.

Edgar Allan Foe

mostly poet / witch / do-er of art and magic / caffeine fiend Leo Sun / Cancer Rising / Aquarius Moon

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