For Better or for Worse: A Heartfelt Letter to A. Friend
Dear A. Friend,
How are you?
I’ve spent so much time thinking about you recently. More time, actually, than I should. More time, actually, than is healthy.
I know you’re going through a lot right now, whatever it might happen to be, but I have to tell you, so many other people are too. You have no idea of the turmoil several of my friends are struggling with at the moment, just like you are. And the reason you don’t know what they’re going through is because I haven’t shared their stories with you since they aren’t my stories to share.
It seems to me that friendship, like marriage, includes the “for better or for worse” clause. Or if it doesn’t, the contract should be amended post haste, to tack that on. It’s not just about sharing when things are all hunky dory. It’s also about sharing, and shoulder-leaning, and snuffly-nosed-tear-dabbing when things are rough and frankly, life sucks sour lemon drops.
I share those times with you. The times when I feel like a chump, a loser, and like Job all rolled up into one very, very sorry human being: when I feel as if my heart has shattered into a million pieces and can’t possibly be mended.
And then you, along with other cherished friends, give me a hug and tell me I’m not alone, and that it will get better . . . and then, eventually, it does.
It always does.
I can tell that you feel good when you’re able to console me. That’s only natural. It’s one of the joys of friendship: the ability to help alleviate distress and revel in the warm contentment and closeness that helping in the healing process brings.
When you’re hurting and put on your impenetrable armor, however, and walk around crying all alone inside of your protective bubble, it makes me feel crazy with worry, helpless, useless, untrusted, and unworthy of being your friend. Selfishly, it robs me of the joy of making you feel even the littlest bit better, just as you rejoice when you’re able to ease my woes. It also makes me think that you’re unwilling to air your dirty laundry, while the rest of us are unfailingly forthright, scrubbing our families’ skid-marked Jockies in a communal washbasin for all to see.
There is no valor in serial stoicism.
We have the right to determine how much we want to share with others, yes, but a lack of willingness to share the bad along with the good comes with consequences. It erects an insurmountable wall in a friendship, stopping it from expanding.
Friendship is about give and take, not take and take or give and give. Sometimes you have to take a little in order to give, especially when dealing with a giver.
The thing is, we’re all human. We all have serious flaws. We all navigate through horrifying landmines from time to time, as well as skip through glorious flower fields. It’s called life. And it’s so much more bearable and enjoyable and somehow more honest if you hold your friends’ hands along the way.
I love you and miss you and will continue to hold out my hand as long as I can.
Beyond the point of painful pins and needles.
Even after my muscles start to quiver.
And then, eventually, I’ll have to let it drop wearily by my side . . .
. . . where it will remain if you ever decide to reach down and pick it up to hold.