Hard times reveal your true friends

What is it really thats going on when friends (or family) don’t don’t show up at the tough times?

When tough times come up in someone’s life the needs of that person tend to grow – a lot. Tough times don’t either have a time limit, they can be recurring over a long period, getting better, then worse again many times over.

The best of friends and relatives show up, they show up to help fix dinner, to get you out of the house, to be a shoulder to cry on and a friend to laugh with. They don’t always need asking. The best of friends are thinking of you and gladly offer their friendship in any way they can. The best of friends also set healthy boundaries. They give appropriate space for you to find your way of healing and to forge your own path forward.

But even through your tough time your friends lives are continuing too, with their ups and downs, their needs, their other friends and family who need their support too. There are many times when a friend or relative just hasn’t got the resources, emotional or physical, to show up for you in your tough time. Perhaps they show up in the beginning, then trail off, or maybe they show up sporadically, or maybe they are actually showing up regularly but during the tough time our needs and expectations are so enormous we are left disappointed and feeling abandoned anyway.

If you have a ‘wonder-friend’ (or family member) who turns up for all your needs it is quite likely they are trampling all over their own boundaries, this is a toxic situation for your friend in the long run, and for you. At a true crisis for a short period of time I think this level of support can be good and healthy, but during an extended period it is not at all good. Guilt can often be the driving force behind the ‘super-friend’ who finds themselves consumed by helping and struggle with setting boundaries.

During extended droughts in our lives we need to learn the art of self soothing and taking care of our own tough feelings. That said, no man is an island and expecting ourselves not to need friends at all is also a recipe for emotional dis-ease. This balance, like all good balances, is one we all have to take time and patience to explore.

So what about the friends or family who don’t show up at all?  I believe this has a lot to do with fear.

Fear of the feelings they will be faced with when they meet someone whose emotions are raw, shredded and out there. Even more scared to dare to meet the feelings that might arise in themselves in such a meeting. They may simply not have the emotional energy to meet those feelings. They can be scared to offer any support for the fear that they wont be able to set the appropriate limits when they can give no more. Guilt may rear it’s ugly head for the friend who doesn’t show up or who shows up and has to set boundaries. This guilt can act as a painful barrier for showing up again or at all.

But sadly, what ever the reason behind the absence of a friend or family member during a tough time, it usually frays the delicate bonds of the relationship and a crack appears. It throws into question what the relationship is, or will be, it brings up questions of trust, trust that a friend can be counted on when you are in trouble. Also what might be expected of yourself when someone else is in trouble.

I will be investigating this further in my next blog ‘Needs and expectations, giving and taking’.


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