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“The Truth About Friendships”

5 minute read

 

“If just one person had stopped to ask me if I was okay then I wouldn’t have jumped.”

This heartbreaking sentence was spoken by a young man who had been interviewed for a television documentary about male suicide.

Speaking to the interviewer, he talked about a dark and bleak day where he’d gone as far as he could go, having suffered as much as he could suffer. Finding himself high upon a bridge and pacing backwards and forwards, he was building up the courage to jump, whilst also hoping, deep inside, that somebody would intervene.

He felt invisible, he felt desperate, and he felt completely alone.

But just as he was walking towards the railings and preparing to jump, a young lady approached him.

“Excuse me?” She said.

He turned to face her, perhaps expecting her to be the intervention that he’d hoped for. Instead she was holding out a camera to him.

“Would you take my picture please?”

And he did. He took her photo and then handed the camera back, and then she turned around and walked away, leaving him feeling more alone than ever.

That said it all. That was the final straw.

He turned around, climbed upon the railings, and then he jumped.

 

The young man survived his suicide attempt, despite the injuries that he sustained, and he recalled feeling like he’d made a mistake the second he’d stepped off the bridge. But by that point it was too late. And that’s when he spoke those words that I opened this article with.

The difference between jumping and not jumping hinged upon his need to feel heard, to feel like his life mattered.

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This is not an article about male suicide, but it is an article about compassion, about support, and more than anything, it’s about friendship.

True friendship.

 

Good times and bad times, we all have them. But what we ultimately find is that these experiences act as a filter in our lives, in the sense that they allow us to see things in a new way.

When everything is going well and we’re all about partying, having fun, and laughing, it can appear that we have friends by the bucket load. There’s a real sense of abundance.

But when times turn bad and you feel you’ve reached the end of your rope, and when things become so bleak that even the daylight appears dark; when all you really need is to feel the slightest hint of compassion and to know that somebody cares, that bucket load of friends suddenly feels like a thimble full.

Sometimes we can be surrounded by people and yet feel more alone than we’ve ever felt in our lives.

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This can be a truly painful experience to go through when it first happens, particularly if you find that the people who said they’d be there for you are suddenly nowhere to be found. It can be easy to make claims of deep friendships, to tell somebody that you care, but it’s another thing entirely when the depth of that friendship is called upon. I’ve been there myself and the feeling is devastating.

But try not to get angry with those friends and instead just accept that you cannot make somebody be something that they’re not. You can choose to accept them for their limitations and understand where the new boundaries of the friendship are, and then just enjoy what’s good. But in future, remember them for what they are, and for what they’re not.

It’s about new perspectives, new perceptions.

Understand where your energy should be focused, and understand who you should let in.

I’ve lived this. I’ve learned from it. And believe me when I tell you that it is something that you will benefit from in the long run.

 

On the flipside of all this can be another, more welcome, surprise. Because sometimes it can be the people that you didn’t realize cared who actually care the most. Sometimes it’s those friends that usually sit quietly on the outside who suddenly step up when you need them. It can come out of nowhere, completely unexpected.

It’s a wonderful feeling when this happens, yet at the same time it can be crushing to know that the person now stood before you, asking if you’re okay, is a completely different person to the one you thought would be there.

And this is that filtering process that I’m talking about; understanding which friends you can laugh with, and which friends you can cry with.

 

It’s not easy to find people that will truly listen. It’s not easy to find people that take a genuine interest. Most times when people appear to be listening they’re actually just waiting patiently for their turn to talk.

People can talk. They can talk a lot.

Yet very few know how to listen. Or perhaps the reality is that they’re just not actually bothered about listening.

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How many times each day does somebody ask you how you are and then actually wait for an answer? How many people ask you about what’s happening in your life? How many people each day come to ask you about something that they know matters to you? In fact, how many people actually know what matters to you?

Finding a person who truly cares, who listens fully, and who is genuinely interested, is much more difficult than you’d think.

To have these kinds of friendships is actually much rarer than it should be.

 

Sometimes we don’t need answers.

Sometimes all we need is to be listened to.

And sometimes we don’t even need that; sometimes all we need is for somebody to sit beside us and to share the darkness.

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We all have friends. Some of us have many friends. If you measure a person’s popularity by their Facebook pages then you’ll see people with several hundred friends, perhaps even thousands.

But when all’s said and done, most of us have maybe two or three close friends who truly know us, perhaps even just one or two. And it is these friends, the ‘2am phone-call friends’, who will be there for us through thick and thin.

They’re the friends who accept us for our flaws, and they’re the friends who still love us at our worst. They’re the friends that know us both inside and out, and they’re the friends that are there for us at any given time, and on any given day.

And they’re the friends who get exactly the same in return.

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The purpose of this article is not to dwell upon the darkness, but rather to bask in the light of your truest friendships.

I know who my ‘2am phone-call friends’ are, and for all of you that have these kinds of friends too; make sure that you cherish them with all your heart.

Give them the time, the love, and the attention that they deserve.

And don’t ever take them for granted.

 

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Did this short article resonate with you and do you know of anybody that could benefit from reading it? If so then please do feel free to share this article wherever you can.

Do you have any thoughts or opinions on anything you’ve just read? Do you have any experiences to draw upon, either good or bad, that others could learn from? What did you learn from your own experience? Do you have any thoughts about friendships that you’d like to share with the readers? Or do you have any questions of your own to ask that either myself or my readers can share an opinion on? Please feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll begin a conversation.

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