A Good Listener Does Not Equal A Good Friend
I’ve always considered myself a reasonably good friend. I’m thoughtful and give great, generous gifts; I make adequate time for each person in a group and one-on-one; I give good, philosophical advice; I am always there for people and put them before me; I offer a good amount of ‘mothering’ in terms of cooking, cleaning and darning ruined items of clothing; and most importantly I am a top-notch listener.
Best friends, close friends, friends and acquaintances tell me everything. I am one of those people who will sit down with someone I haven’t seen for 5 years and in ten minutes I will discover she has had an abortion, been cheated on, battled with an eating disorder and has gone through the breakdown of her parents marriage. Yep, FOUR life-altering issues before I’ve even received my mai tai. But I love it. I love that I am the person that people turn to, I love that I receive the tearful phone-calls, and that I shamelessly get to agree and enthusiastically nod my head over dinner that “yes in fact your boyfriend is a dick and you would be better of without him”. (No wonder my girlfriends BF’s despise me.) I love knowing when something is wrong with one of my friends before they have even started talking and I love that I can generally cheer them up. Even if at a last resort I need to whip off my clothes bar undies and do an exaggerated rendition of ‘I Like Big Butts’ as I shimmy my own ass in their now laughing/horrified faces.
But I’ve come to realise that I actually suck as a friend. Last night I sat down across from one of my best friends and she told me I had an ‘I’m about to drop a bomb’ face on my mug. This is the face I apparently get when I’m finally going to tell her something that she had absolutely no idea I was even thinking about let alone putting into action. The problem lies within the fact that I don’t tell people things. It hit home a while back when my other best friend stood across the room from me in nothing but a towel, tears rolling down her cheeks and a wobbling lower lip as I had just slipped out something that had happened to me the month earlier. I told her in a tone as cavalier as if I was discussing what fruit I felt like purchasing. I really didn’t get the big deal that I hadn’t told her all this until she proclaimed (with a warbling voice as she tried to manoeuvre her mascara wand around the tears) that part of friendship is giving as well as receiving.
She then turned angrily to me and asked if I thought she liked talking about her parents divorce and if she liked discussing her impending move at the end of this year. She does tell me things because that’s what best friends do – they keep each other informed about their lives.
I’ve been pondering over this for a while now and come to realise that indeed I don’t give much thus I must be a sucky friend.
Although I will gladly discuss with anyone how many bowel movements I think is normal and what colour and consistency constitutes healthiness, I won’t actually tell anyone when I am really sick.
And though I will happily and heatedly discuss the pros and cons of doggie style with the girls, any more serious questions about my relationship generally see’s my lips tightly pursed and my attention diverted to the cute cater waiter.
You see I am actually an Emu. I like to stick my head in the sand and completely ignore all of my problems and anything that makes me ‘feel’. Talking makes me think about serious stuff and I don’t really like to do that. So I stick my head in the sand and shake my booty until my friends start giggling and forget that they asked me something I’ve ignored.
I then will most likely find myself on a lonely night in sobbing and cursing the fact that ‘nobody cares’. Nobody bloody knows you idiot! Stupid girl.
The thing that makes my predicament fundamentally easy MOST of the time is that people like to talk about themselves; mid chat with a friend as I listen about her life the enviable question ‘so what’s new with you’ can often be diverted with an ‘oh not much SO tell me about….’ from me. And off she will go just as I like it!
But as my 23rd birthday comes closer I think it’s high time I grew up a little bit and started sharing more. Oh and I also need to pull my head out of the sand as lovely and warm and exfoliating as it is in there, even if it is just for one night per week.
Sharing is caring Kelly. And dear friends, I vow to continue having open ears and a secret keeping mouth (but remember you need to specify exactly what secrets need to be kept) but I also vow to talk more. And not about my bodily functions. Although, admit it you love my dirty talk as much as you love my bum dance.