I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
One of the biggest mistakes people do when attempting to console a friend after a break-up is to tell them their options. Understandably, you want to give them hope. To remind them it won’t always be as bleak as it feels. Oh, because it feels like the pain will never end and that you very well might die from the deep ache of loneliness. We have all been there. But as I was listening to her voice crack while mascara tears ran down her cheeks, I felt compelled to use everything in my arsenal – everything I had learned about patching holes in hearts to help hold her together. And that’s what good friends do, they try to help. To be there as a shoulder and a voice of reason. That’s why we keep them around and why we are kept around – because we enhance each other with our positivity. We give hope by being an example of compassion and empathy.
Since I was 12, it seems I have spent so much of my life holding someone’s hand while they cried, or hugging my dudes in a moment of weakness, or telling people their options. Because reminding them of their options, I believed that if they knew they could quickly fill that hole in their heart with someone new, well, I always thought that would make things easier for them. I would tell them that they were brilliant and intelligent and attractive and a new person would eventually come along and treat them with the respect and care that they have earned. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a lie – but it wasn’t what they needed to hear. They also didn’t need to hear me immediately start in on trashing their ex, which is a huge mistake. I mean, just because I ended things with my girlfriend, doesn’t mean that I want you calling her names and telling me that she was never good enough for me in the first place. Like, hey! I was just in love with her like 15 minutes ago. I still have deeply rooted love for her no matter what our future looks like.
I guess what I didn’t learn from my relationship spectator seats is that, you can’t drop a bomb on a person’s house then immediately show up and say, “Well, now that everything is wrecked… this would be a great place to build a new house! And we could put a garden here and a garage here!”
People in pain need to deal with the wreckage first. They need your help with the clean up and to know that they’re okay and that they can survive this blast. Well-intentioned or not, your job as a good and effective friend, is to make them feel whole. To hug them and hold their insides together. To make them feel loved and cared for and that they are good people who will eventually have the ability to build again. Because they can. And they will. Because you have. And you did.
Because none of you have ever died from a break-up. If you are reading this right now, somehow, you managed to find the strength it took to trudge through the sobbing late-nights and the grim mornings where it took everything you had to pull yourself from your bed. You did it. And while you might not be exactly where you want to be, you at least have the knowledge that you made it and that you’re going to survive – even if someone decides to drop bombs on your house again.
And hopefully, because someone held you together like you mattered.
And hopefully, so you can be that person for your friends.
Because the world needs more people like that.
We need more people like that.