|Friendship Village (Photo credit: NYC-MetroCard)|
The newspaper I received daily is “News & Observer“, a local publication, in which there is a column called “Tell me about it“, where people ask a therapist Carolyn Hax for help with their personal affairs. The one I read yesterday was called “Some friends failed in a crisis“. The person who asks for help was in cancer treatment during which she/he found that suddenly most of her/his “best friends” failed to show up to offer support, which she/he certainly expected. Carolyn’s response is wonderful. First she congratulates the person for her/his not holding grudge, then she suggests that she/he better to express her feeling openly, in case she/he is with those friends again. This is the beginning paragraph of Carolyn’s response:
“Welcome to the weirdness of crisis, where your besties can vanish while casual pals surprise and sustain you.”
This case certainly rings a bell to me. During the past several years (5 or 6), when my physical condition stayed desperate and chronic, when my financial situation and other aspects of my life seemed to collapse, I found I was left alone by almost all my several friends who had been hitherto keeping close relation with me. They all estranged away by different reasons. It was one of the hardest things in my life for me to ponder. However, after carefully “examining” those friendships, I believe I found answers, at least for my case.
I was an extremely popular personal during my teenage years and my 20s. I never intentionally chose friends because I was always surrounded by “friends”. I think the reason for this was that I was an extremely agreeable person, and always put others’ needs before my own. I was also a person who was fun to be with. I made people laugh all the time. It’s a good thing, I suppose. But now I realized the negative side of it, that is, I was very passive in “choosing” my own friends. I simply let people choose me. I trusted everyone, I believe they treated me kindly, so they must be my friends. Upon the time I was ready to come abroad, there were a few people who made me their best friend. The consequence of this situation is, that after all these years, gradually, as our personalities and intelligence develop, I found I did not have much in common with most of my “besties”. No doubt, as time went by, there was less and less for us to share. Plus my extremely health condition, which was hard for anybody to comprehend. So eventually, they chose to drop me off.
Humans are conscious animals. We better do things with consciousness, or so called “conscious choice”. If we let others decide for us, we give others the power to judge us, to control us, or, to “trash” us. Of course, we should not judge others (By writing this post, I also do not mean to judge my old friends. As contrary, I respect their choice), but we do have right, and we should, make conscious choice to who we would remain contact with, or stay close. So this is the lesson I learned. I will certainly try to do better in future.
(I also have thoughts on why I was such a passive person in terms of relationship, but that would be another day’s work.)