A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
We’re two months into the new year and I’ve noticed somewhat of a disturbing trend occurring in my life. Name calling.
High maintenance, control freak, peanut, lunatic, fussy, hard work, moron, banana, selfish.
Granted they are taken out of context here, and placed together in a line like that just make me sound like the ideal candidate for a mental asylum, however putting that fact aside, what really got me was the reaction that this continuous name calling prompted.
These things were said and at times reiterated by people I consider friends, good friends in many cases, and it hurt. But more than that, it prompted me to wonder if anyone actually knew me at all. And then I felt the full raft of emotion that comes with that question – doubt, displacement, loneliness, sadness and confusion.
I would never pretend that I’m Mother Teresa or walking in the same shoes as Mr Mandela, but I am a decent sort. A generous person, a loyal friend, a much frequented sounding board, a trusty ally and a happy and positive influence on the lives of those around me. I love frequently and generously and if anything have suffered a bit too much from constantly putting myself second. Yet somehow I found myself being called the names of a person who wouldn’t do any of those things.
I got myself into a quagmire about this. I huffed and puffed a little bit, I brought up some of these ideas in conversations with others to see if they agreed, I dropped these ‘descriptive words’ back to those who had given them to me when describing something I had done. Oh yes, I stewed over it, enough for it to become the big white elephant stew in the corner.
Finally I mentioned it to a friend and in the spirit of dishing out adjectives, this one is ‘wise and insightful’ pretty much all of the time, but in particular when it comes to me.
I commented on how I’d noticed this trend and lamented that I wasn’t sure if anyone really knew me at all. At that point I was on the verge of tears, I don’t even know where they came from, I just felt sad. And redundant. And unimportant. And insignificant. And lonely.
And then he said, in his simple matter of fact way, ‘It might not be that they don’t know you, it’s that they don’t understand you’.
And then I did cry.
Because for all of those friends we have who just know us, there are a rare few who understand us and I don’t think we ever give those ones enough credit. We’re so lucky when we find them and yet we often just pile them into the washing basket with all of our other friends – the going out friends, the weekend friends, the long distance friends, the coffee break friends, the footy friends, the work friends, the neighbour friends etc.
But the understanding friends, they are unique and irreplaceable. They’re the ones that see through all the bullshit you’re spinning, who walk through all the walls you’re building, who accept all the wonderful and the utterly terrible moments and ideas and representations of yourself that you conjure up and launch upon the world, to see who you actually are and who you’re meant to be.
They don’t ask questions because they don’t have to, they already know who you are at your core. They understand why you do the things you do, before you do yourself. They believe in the dreams and abilities you have, when you’re still too terrified to even acknowledge them. They touch your soul and they move in and find a spot to stay in your heart without you even noticing. Having them in your life makes you the best version of yourself, not because you know them; but because they see who you really want to be, they encourage, they believe, they accept, they understand.
And so in this moment, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have this friend. You can have friends who admire you, who humour you, who envy you, who laugh with you, who drink you under the table and who love you dearly. But to have a friend who understands you, that is truly one of life’s greatest gifts.