I’ve known my best friend for almost all of my life. She knows me better than my sisters do. My mother was her second mother as hers was mine. When her mother died, I stayed with my friend and looked after the basic things so that she had time to deal with what had to be done and to grieve. When my mother died, I stayed with her and she gave me the space I needed to grieve. When her last relative fell and broke her hip and my friend’s partner had a stroke, I stayed with her and looked after the dog and made meals and the like so she could travel from one hospital to another and look after her loved ones. When she was diagnosed with melanoma, I went to the hospital with her and kept her distracted as the surgeon removed the cancer under local anesthetic.
We’ve seen each other through moving, school [she earned my university degrees with me], relationships, illness, and death. And we’ve shared laughter and conversation and advice [mainly hers to me]. We may not see each other for months at a time and yet we each know that the other is there and that we can count on them.
I’ve learned through my friendship with her that I need to speak up. When my friend was diagnosed with cancer, I was angry. I had planned to spend a lot of time with her once I retired from teaching and now that was being threatened. We had both lost our parents to complications from cancer. And I didn’t know what to say to her or what to do. Finally, I sat down with her and asked her how she needed me to be for her — what could we talk about, how could I help? And she let me know what she needed.
In my choosing to talk to her about this, our relationship changed. For me, it became deeper and richer.
Recently, I visited my friend and her partner to celebrate Christmas in July, don’t you know. And I realized as I was driving to her apartment and was in sight of it, that I missed her. I missed seeing her. I missed our finishing each other’s sentences. I missed our conversations about anything and everything. I missed laughing with her. I missed just sharing space with her.
And I also realized that with each time that I’ve visited her, I’ve become wary about being an imposition on her time and space. While I’ve enjoyed the visit, I’ve also been vigilant. I haven’t felt a complete sense of ease. And, I’ve realized that feeling a great connection to her while being afraid of being an encumbrance to her just didn’t compute.
So, I chose to talk to her about how I was feeling. It was not comfortable to make that choice and still I did make that choice. When our conversation was finished, I was glad that I had spoken up. We had a chance to clear the air — to be open and direct and honest with each other; to own our feelings; to listen to each other. And, in the end, the rejection that I had feared didn’t happen. And now, for me, our relationship feels less cluttered. And I know that it has changed again and I’m okay with that.
The point I’m making is that we should say what needs to be said now and not wait. Don’t sit and hold your confusion or anger or fear inside. When I do that, these feelings only fester until I feel a sense of dis-ease with my life. Honour yourSelf and your significant others by being direct and open with them.
Don’t leave things unsaid or unacknowledged. Trust yourSelf and honour the truth of what you feel. In doing that, no matter what might happen, you won’t have any regrets.