Thursday, March 04, 2010

Choices and friendship

(Editors Note: This is an old post I started in 2007 and never finished because I never really knew where I was going with it. I still don't, but I'm going to post it anyway because it seems like an appropriate time for me.)

Choices. We all have them. We all make them. Some good. Some bad. Some indifferent, like choosing what to have for lunch. No one really cares, but they're choices nonetheless. I have no doubt in my mind that every single one of us have somewhere down the line made a choice that has been considered a bad one. As a person who has made quite a few bad choices, life changing ones at that, I understand fully that there are many consequences that come along with these bad choices. All of which I've had to face. I've found that it's helped the most when people were supportive during this time and didn't find the need to say, "I told you so", "That's what you get" or "You deserve to be miserable when this turns out bad again" etc.

Sometimes we continue to make the same bad choice over and over again, each time expecting a different, better result. Most of the times we know that the choice we're making probably isn't the best one, but we try. We try for hope, love, happiness, second chances, whatever the reason we put our heart and soul into the situation and we try. This is where friendship comes in.

As a friend, sitting back and watching someone you care about continue to make choices that you think are bad for them is very hard. It's hard not to say everything that's on your mind for fear of not sounding supportive. But being supportive is what a good friend does. Because it's not your life and they're not your choices. Sure the outcome may seem inevitable to you, but you never know. Most importantly, your friend needs to realize on his/her own that the choice is wrong.

You don't need to lie or be mean. You can always say, "I don't think you're making the right decision." But if you truly value your friendship with someone, you stick by their side no matter what. You'll be there when they fall, pick them up, dust them off, and offer an ear or shoulder. If they turn right around and go back into the situation that made them fall, just shake your head, say what you need, and be ready for the next fall yet hope for a better outcome. After a while that falling is going to start making an impact. A big enough impact to cause reconsideration the next time they think about heading back into that situation. And hopefully, you'll still be by their side no matter what. Because that's what a good friend does.

I know when I continued to stay in my domestic violence filled marriage, I needed my good friends to be there for me. I know they hated that I stayed with him, but they stuck by me and my choices. When I finally realized that loving someone wasn't enough to keep getting beaten, I left. And my friends were still there, offering their hands to pick me up.

In other news, my buddy Hubman is the proud owner of his own web domain. If you have him on your blogroll, don't forget to update it to the new addy. If you don't have him, well why not? Get on it!

Deep Throat of the Day: Do you hear the Golden Girls theme song too? Thank you for being a friend....traveled down the road and back again...


R said...

I had a very good friend in college who used to get beaten up regularly by her boyfriend.

I didn't realize this right away. How I ever missed the signs is beyond me, but I did.

Anyway, one night I was out at a bar and she happened to be there while we were waiting for a classmate to perform his usual Thursday night set. We were just chatting; nothing serious, just talk. Then her boyfriend showed up. He took one look at me, accused her of cheating on him, and she moved in quickly to calm him down. I tried to intervene, but she gave me one of those looks that told me to mind my own business or I'd wind up getting hurt too.

After that, I started to actually NOTICE the long-sleeved shirts in the summertime. The nervous jumps when people walked in to where we worked. It was creepy. We never really talked about it directly, but she made a LOT of excuses for him.

I have no idea why she kept going back to him. If you'd asked me at the time, I'd have said she was nuts, and she should have just walked away from that relationship because it was CLEARLY toxic.

But I don't know the full story. She may have felt threatened. She may have had other reasons to stay that I can't possibly fathom. All I know is that I tried my best to be a good friend without ever getting in her face and telling her to leave because I know it would have been met with extreme resistance, for whatever reason.

I was also once a part of a quasi-intervention with a friend who was in a horribly toxic relationship, and our circle chose me as the spokesperson for our concerns that "Jim" was getting involved in a very harmful relationship. When I tried to calmly talk to him, he literally attacked me, and it took three people to pull him off me.

I learned my lesson. You're right, April...being supportive is what a good friend does. Say what you think--politely--and then stand back. It's good advice, and I wish I'd learned it before I got all those bruises!

Hubman said...

Those friends who stick with you thru thick and thin are the best ones to have! I'm glad you have friends like that.

Thanks for the shout-out about my new home on the blogosphere!

Anonymous said...

I needta change my man's hubs link i reckon.

sunshine it is never OK for a guy to hit a chick, ever. Or a kid for that matter. I see it a little bit different. I call them out. I am there for them and I am the "rock" for them but I tell everyone the truth and I tell them straight up if they should leave or whatever.

Great post though. I hope way way more people read it than commented on it.