Love Doesn’t Cure Mental Illness

This week, not surprisingly, there has been a whole lot of talk on our screens about mental illness and suicide.  Having those subjects ‘out there‘ is a good thing, but I can’t deny that unwise words and ill-formed arguments have not helped anyone, most especially those personally affected by the tragic death of Robin Williams, and also importantly, those people struggling with their own mental illness battles and suicidal thoughts.

I read a lot that I really wish I hadn’t read, but one article I came across perhaps summed up the issues for me more than ever.  I have shared that article in several places but if you haven’t seen it I urge you to read the wise writings of Molly Pohlig:

When the Illness You Live With Becomes Breaking News
(I Bet Robin Williams Knew He Was Loved. Unfortunately, Love Doesn’t Cure Mental Illness)
http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/08/12/robin_williams_and_mental_illness_when_depression_is_breaking_news.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_bot

One thing we perhaps know from this week, is that fame, fortune, a great sense of humour, laughter, family and perhaps above all, love does not cure mental illness.  Robin Williams appeared to have all these things.  Depression is not magically spirited away by the possession of such things, and the struggle with suicidal thoughts is not relieved.  Oh, that it could be.  Wouldn’t it be great if mental illness was so easy?

If love were enough, my depression would have been cured years ago.

If love were enough, along with maybe a plate of my favourite food of course,  then perhaps my Anorexia would never have got the dangerous point it did, not to mention halting the permanent damage it did to my body.

If love were enough, I wouldn’t have struggled with chronic suicidal ideation for so long, several times plunging my body close to death.

If love were enough just maybe Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) would never have become the major stumbling block in my life that it is.

And perhaps finally, if love were enough then Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) would have been cured.  But then for me PTSD was triggered into a perhaps worse state by the presence of love in my life.  Now that’s confusing if you believe love will solve all.

Love certainly made the last 20 years of my life better than it would have been without it, but only because in spite of the pain I was in, I knew someone cared and perhaps I wasn’t quite as alone as I felt.

But love didn’t fix the pain for me.  It didn’t cure my mental illness.  I had a family surrounding me who loved me.   It was hard for them to know that their love couldn’t fix me.  I guess that hurt like hell.

As I have said before (An Apple Never Falls Far From The Tree), I tried very hard to prove for myself that my family didn’t really love me.  They did.  I can’t deny that.  Some of them (at least) probably thought they could help me if they could just love me a bit more and provide for the needs I had.  Maybe to sit down with me and watch a Robin Williams’ movie to make me laugh for a while.  I should say that just because I might laugh, doesn’t mean I am cured either.

I had friends who loved me, and though I tried very hard to push them away, some of those people are still my friends today.  No, they didn’t cure me, but they’ve stayed in for the long haul.  Mostly they simply kept being there.  But that didn’t cure me.

And then there was my marriage where for years a dedicated and caring husband tried harder than you could imagine to love my suffering away.  No one could fault him for the effort he made during what were the worst years of my suffering.  Strangely, the more he loved me, the more I kicked up my heels and pushed him away.  He loved me so much yet it wasn’t enough to save or cure me.  In the end was a broken marriage and still a mentally ill woman.

Why?  Obviously this is just my opinion but I think the reason my ex-husband’s and others’ love, weren’t enough to cure my mental illness was because:

I knew that I was unlovable

It wasn’t that I felt unlovable, but that I knew I was unlovable.  It is that certain.  I knew in my heart.  From my earliest days I knew I was unlovable, and actually I would go so far as to say that I knew this before I was born.  That might seem extreme and you’ll have to do without the reasons this time.  Some things are too private.

All the love around me meant nothing to me because I knew that it couldn’t be real, and I knew that eventually I would prove it to be false.  There was no way (in my mind) that those people really could love me like they said.  It just wasn’t possible.  I knew.

It’s certainly not the fault of the people who tried to love my mental illness away.  They didn’t understand that their love meant little because I was unlovable.  I couldn’t have explained it if I tried and so instead, the more they loved me the more of a fake I felt.  The more guilty I felt for not getting well.  This was not something any of them could fix.  It just was.

While I needed the love they were offering,  it was never going to be enough to cure my mental illness.  I can’t speak for others and I don’t pretend to.  This post is about me, and not the thousands who suffer from mental illness.  I can’t say if more love would have saved Robin Williams’ life.  In spite of many contrary opinions voiced this week, I believe that only he could have said what, if anything, could save his life.  And I suspect that he, like me, didn’t know if anything could cure us.

Mental illness affects different people differently.  And what is needed to cure it, if indeed that is possible, varies. To generalize simply isn’t fair on anyone.  I simply know that love was never going to cure me.

Thank you to those who tried to make love enough.  I am lucky to have you on my side and I’m sorry if I disappointed you.  There was nothing wrong with your love, it just was never going to be enough.

I saw a meme yesterday which said that love can cure everything.  I don’t believe that.  If only it were so easy.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”

― Elizabeth Wurtzel

 

Honouring The Silly In Other People

When someone takes the chance, and shows us their silly side, we are indeed honoured.  We all have silly in us, but it’s not that easy to let it out, especially when we’ve been hurt badly in the past.  When we feel vulnerable in other aspects of our lives we become even more vulnerable to let someone in and see silly.

Silly is not about immaturity.  Actually I think the people who ‘do’ silly the best are usually very mature people who see the value in letting go of those inhibitions once in a while and being silly.  That said, I know very mature people who would never be seen dead doing silly, but I am sure that they would be better off if they tried it once in a while.

Dictionaries tend to define silly as foolish, lacking common sense, frivolous, stupid or childish… but that’s not what I am talking about.  Silly is not a negative thing in my mind, but rather something that is very good for our mental health.  It’s about letting out that child inside of us to have fun.  Silly is a little bit crazy, but in a good way.

The Urban Dictionary provides a multitude of definitions but I like this one:

“The most awesome compliment you can give a person! It is cooler than cool or even ice-cold. Silly is the epitome of greatness, and a term used only to describe the greatest human beings on the planet”

I can be silly with two (almost three) year old L.  It’s easy to be silly with a two-year old.  To let go of adult inhibitions and answer her toy mobile phone as I would my own real phone, drink pretend cups of tea, not to mention lots of other interactions which I probably wouldn’t have with most adults.

But it’s good to know who you can be silly with as an adult.  Those people really matter, because they are the people with whom you can be yourself.  If you can be yourself in silly moments with them, you also know you can be yourself in the moments when you are struggling.  And for those of us with mental illnesses, it’s good to know who those people are in advance.

I really value the people around me who I know I can be silly with, mostly because I know they accept me for exactly who I am.  I also feel extremely honoured when others feel they can be silly with me, because it tells me they trust me.

Recently someone in my life stomped fiercely on my silliness.  Actually it wasn’t the only thing they stomped on, but the silly Cate is the matter for today.  It’s interesting because the stomping on the silly me is perhaps the most hurtful of all, and I keep surprising myself with that one.  I literally cringe when I stop to think about it, because I know how vulnerable I was in letting that person see that side of me.  I’m not talking about the fun, silly but the most sensitive two-year old who dares to let you into their world.  Who dares to let you into their imagination and fantasy.  Who trusts you to show you the real them.

Having that stomped on hurt like hell, but it reminds me to value moments of silliness with people in my life.  It reminds me to honour that part of them, by not only enjoying it, but by treasuring it.  I can tell you, and you probably can too, once silliness is stomped on it’s almost impossible to win that trust back.

If nothing else makes sense in what I have said today, remember that.  And honour silly.  Value the trust being placed in your heart.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 

― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

This Warrior Princess

Xena: Warrior Princess

Xena: Warrior Princess (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember Xena, Warrior Princess?  The television series ran from 1995 to 2001 and while I don’t admit to having been an avid follower, just sometimes I wished I was a Warrior Princess like Xena, played by Kiwi Lucy Lawless.  She seemed fearless.  She could take on any battle.  Oh, and while in the middle of battle she always looked damn sexy and gorgeous.

This Warrior Princess has been fighting this week, to stay afloat.  And it didn’t look pretty.  A fibromyalgia flare stayed firmly with me for the entire week.  I am just starting to feel vaguely human again, but only just.  That’s why I can finally write again.  I spent a fair amount of the week in bed.  When I wasn’t trying to sleep it off I wished I were suspended somehow mid-air.  With absolutely nothing touching me the nerve pain might have been livable.  As such means has yet to be developed, I’m offering someone the opportunity to put all us fibro-ites out of our misery and create such a thing.

To be honest though, I can be a Warrior Princess when it comes to physical pain… if I must.  Fibro pain doesn’t always make sense but it makes more sense than mental pain.  To me anyway.  I know there are people who will disagree with me, and that’s okay.  Just for me?  I’d rather have physical pain than mental pain.

Along with the fibro flare I have been dealing with the realities of having lost some friends.  Whatever happened to Queen’s lyrics

“Friends will be friends

Right to the end”

It’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t always happen like that.  Lately I’ve lost a number of friends.  People who said they’d be there right to the end, and others who I always thought would be there right to the end.  But they’ve gone.  And try as I might to be Warrior Princess-like, it hurts.

Too often I think of something I want to share with one of them, but they’re gone.  Oh how easy it is to block someone on Facebook, or stop following them on some other form of social media.  They’re gone… just like that.  That’s exactly what has happened to me, with no explanation given.  Just gone from my world.

Oh, I can give myself an explanation, but it’s probably not the real reason.  What’s more I could turn up on their doorstep, except their doorsteps are half a world away, so that’s hardly practical.  And if you think that because of distance those people are not important, you’re wrong.

Why is it that in this age of social media it is far too easy to cut people out of our lives?  Why is it that we don’t need to offer an explanation for leaving anymore? And why is it that we don’t stop to tell our friends how much they mean to us, until they’re gone and it’s too late?  Why are friends expendable?  Why is it that when they’ve served their purpose we just push them out of our lives?

Yes, I feel hurt…   and no, I don’t feel Warrior Princess-like.  Thanks to fibro I couldn’t possibly have squeezed my way into Lucy Lawless’ costume, but I wish I could bat away the hurt that easily.

This week it hurts.  Physically and emotionally.  I need my friends this week, but I’m down a few.  I’m not someone who easily gives away a friendship.  Friendships mean the world to me, even those half a world away.  Unfortunately I realise that it’s so much easier for some.

And if you say I’m better off without friends like that, well maybe that’s true.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to think that way, but right now it hurts.  Right now, I’m nowhere near ready to hear that.

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.” 

― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

Defining Friendships

Across my life I have had many people try to define who my friends should be.  Some were successful in their attempts, probably because I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for what I wanted and for what I knew I should have.

As a child, I had a number of adults who deemed that their offspring were not allowed to be friends with me.  What had I done wrong to get this judgement?  I was a Preacher’s Kid, and Preachers Kids had a reputation for being ‘off the rails‘ and generally a bad influence.  I wasn’t ‘off the rails‘ at the time, and if anything their offspring were probably a bad influence on me.  But the ‘jury’ had me announced to be bad news, simply because of my father’s profession, and so it was difficult to have the friendship we might have wanted.

As a teenager, and then as an adult, I spent many years being the victim of two stalkers.  Society seems to have this idea than stalking, and being stalked is a bit of a joke.  It’s not.  Among other things it plays serious havoc with the mental health of both the stalked, and the stalker.  Stalking is never a joke!

It was difficult not to let my friendships be defined by the actions of these two men.  Friends were an access point to their victim, and so I constantly had to be careful about who I spent time with, what I told them and where I went with friends. Some of my friends at the time were amazingly supportive, and I will always feel much gratitude to them for the way they supported and protected me.  But other friends fell by the way side.  It was simply necessary for trying to maintain that mental health, but I feel sad that I have missed out on much because of this.

By the time the stalking terror was over, I was married and again, I was told who my friends should and shouldn’t be.  Perhaps most memorable to me is the friend who was ‘barred’ from our house, particularly while my husband was at work.  She was barred because she smoked (he didn’t realise that I had started smoking by then), she too had a mental illness, and perhaps the most dastardly ‘deed’ was that she was a lesbian.  All of that made me more angry than ever, for so many reasons.  This particular attempt to define my friends very nearly ended in tragedy.  Thankfully it didn’t, but it was certainly not without lasting harm to both of us.  And to my marriage, which is long since over thankfully.

All of this came to mind in a disturbing manner this week when I discovered (I’m probably months behind most people) that Facebook has decided for itself who my ‘close friends’ are.  What’s more, without my permission, Facebook will tell these ‘close friends’ of my activity on Facebook.  The cringe factor sky-rockets for me instantly, and what I want to do is run as far away as possible from Facebook.

This might seem extreme to many, but not for me.  Again, I am being told who my friends are, and scarily similar to the many years I spent being stalked, I find that those ‘close friends’ get information about me which I have not agreed too.  Remember too that these ‘close friends’ are not my close friends.  A few maybe, but they are simply Facebook friends I have contact with regularly on Facebook.

I object strongly, Facebook.

Now that at least some of these people get a notification when I am ‘on-line’ (even though I permanently have the chat function turned off),  I am starting to feel stalked again.

People know what I am doing, and when I am doing it.  This is the scariest thing when you have been stalked.  The stalker knows more of what I do than even I know.  Somehow they seem to know before I do something.  They constantly know everything, and I have little or often no power to stop that.  I am left with that familiar feeling that there is someone standing outside my windows just watching me.  I lived with that reality for 15 years, and many years following as I tried to recover from the trauma of living this way.

Yet again, my friendships are defined by others.  Just when I’m learning to define myself, I have a social media that wants to do that for me.  That completely freaks me out.  It seems that I have little control over who Facebook determines to be my ‘close friends’ and I have no control over what they get told about what I do.

This time social media has gone too far for me.  I know that most people won’t even get why I am so disturbed for by this, and in a way, I am glad because it tells me you haven’t had to live as a prisoner of another.  As for me though, I need to work out what to do.  I can’t live like this.  Time for some thought.

“I cried for all of those things that should have just been for us…” 

― Kate Chisman, Creep

Being Compassionate To Myself

Ted 002

These are my ‘Dorothy’ shoes, named by my friend Elizabeth.  I don’t do sparkly, diamantes and fairy dust, and so these are probably as close as I am going to go to ‘Dorothy’ shoes.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go spend a few hours watching the Wizard of Oz, and keep an eye out for Dorothy’s shoes.

This picture was my Facebook profile picture for a long time, partly for the reason that by seeing the picture I was reminded to imagine myself walking in the shoes of the person I was talking to on Facebook.  That was in my days of my primary activity on Facebook being support groups.

After all, that’s what we’re told to do, isn’t it?  Walk a mile in a man’s shoes before you judge him.  It’s a pretty good philosophy in my mind because it reminds us not to judge another until we know what their life involves.  It allows us to go some way towards offering empathy, something we all want and hopefully are prepared to give.

Empathy, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is:

the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this

In the mental and physical pain that many of us carry each day, what we want is for someone to say “I get how it is for you.”  What strikes me is that while we’re on a never-ending quest for understanding, would it ever be enough for us?  I’m not sure.  I’m not convinced that anyone, unless they know me exceptionally well (and there’s very few in that class), can really know ‘how it is for me‘.

I don’t mean for that to be as depressing as it may sound.

Even if you walk a mile in my shoes, that does not mean that you are going to understand who I am.  After all you need to be me in my shoes, for you to understand me.  If you just walk in my shoes, you may have a completely different experience of me.

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia I joined, signed up or ‘liked’ many websites and pages relating to living with fibromyalgia.  I thought I would be understood.  I thought I would meet people with the same experience.  I didn’t.  I thought it would make my experience of fibro better.  It didn’t.  If anything I felt more isolated partly because even these people didn’t seem to ‘get it‘ for me.

I don’t mean to offend anybody because those sites are all offering good information and support, but actually I didn’t feel understood, I didn’t feel I was with like-minded, and like-suffering people and all that happened was that I felt pretty isolated and depressed.  I pulled back, fast.

One thing I did find before I left was a whole lot of posts available for members to share with their friends and family, like this one:

It’s crying out for empathy, but it’s not the way I’d go about it if I was looking for empathy, and I doubt it would be that effective.  Personally I see these types of posts and I groan inside.  Maybe I shouldn’t, but then I’m human.  Maybe I’m allowed to say this because I have fibro (then again, maybe I shouldn’t) but while fibro is a hellish existence which I don’t enjoy, this description of it does not capture fibro for me.  This is begging for attention!  And who likes people who do that?  I would never share this with my friends and family.  Then again, I accept that it could well be the very real experience of the author.  We are all different.

I’ll take another subject I know only too well.  Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  People with BPD suffer immensely and the quote above, with a few minor alterations, could be used for us.  But why stop there?  Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder, to name a few?  Which mental illness does not include great suffering, and leave sufferers feeling like they are imprisoned?  And who doesn’t want the understanding?  Chronic physical illnesses of all types are also the same.

My point is this.  We can cry out for empathy in these ways.  We can beg people to understand us.  But they never can fully understand what we’re experiencing, because they’re not us.  They can only understand to a limit and then we have to live with our own understanding beyond that.

I don’t have people in my life who fully understand what I am suffering both in mental, or physical terms.  A few have some idea, but then I have to remember that just because they might know someone else with BPD, doesn’t mean they understand my reality of BPD.  Like most disorders there are many variances which make reality different between individuals.

But you know what?  I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter if they don’t get my suffering.  That’s not what I need from my friends and family.  Yes, it would be lovely if people understood exactly what my needs are, but I’m being unrealistic.  What I need is absolute acceptance of who I am, as I am.  If they can give me that, then I can put that with my own compassion toward myself.

I believe that I would be more effective in getting my needs met if I didn’t push my demands for understanding on other people so much, but started practising self-compassion, in order that my needs be met.

I need to focus on what I can do to meet my own needs.  It doesn’t make me a hermit, it just makes me aware of what I need, and find ways to meet those needs… without having to go begging for everyone to understand me.  I also think  if I can love myself and take care of my own needs without begging for friends to ‘get‘ me, then I also become more attractive as a friend to others.  And that leads to more of my needs being met.

Is that confusing?  It would be quite remarkable if we all had friends and family who understood our suffering, but it’s not going to happen.  These are human beings we’re talking about.  If I can appreciate and accept my own suffering, identify for myself what my needs are, and be compassionate towards myself?  Then I am starting to make progress.

One final thought.  Think about the dog or cat who gives you unconditional love.  They don’t understand your suffering.  They just love you anyway.  And isn’t that enough?

“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.” 

― Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty

What Matters To Me This Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve here in my part of the world.  I have a list of things I need to get done before the day is out, but for now I want to stop, and think about what matters, what really matters to me this Christmas.

Christmas is will be about family for me this Christmas.  I am expected to be part of the family Christmas by some, simply because I don’t have a family (I mean a partner and children) of my own.  But that is small stuff compared to what matters to me.  I play along to meet expectations but really my heart is some place else.

Yesterday I went to a family Christmas lunch.  The whole family wasn’t there, but those I wasn’t going to see on Christmas Day were.  I arrived on time armed with Christmas gifts for the children, only to find they had all started the meal without me.  When I asked why (calmly and politely), there was no explanation forthcoming, and really all it did was tell me yet again, that to those people, I don’t matter.

“Family isn’t always about blood.  It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are.  The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

I am fortunate to have some family members who are blood-related and fit this definition.  They weren’t there yesterday, sadly.  The people who were there simply told me by their actions that I didn’t matter… and yes, that hurt like hell.

I’m not going to get bogged down in how that hurt, but rather focus my energy on those people who do matter to me, and I know I matter to them.  What is difficult is that this Christmas I am cut off from the people I would prefer to spend Christmas with.  People who would want to include me and want to show their love for me.

I also want to be with my friends who are struggling this Christmas.  Christmas can be a time of hurt and depression, and I hate that.  I really hope that somehow those friends can find some peace tomorrow, and know that they are loved (even from afar)

Those I want to be with are thousands of miles away, and so today I will place them in my heart, where they belong.  And I will take them with me as I celebrate Christmas tomorrow.  That way they are with me, in my heart and the physical distance doesn’t seem so harsh.

And to finish, a quote from my favourite wordsmiths.  Not because it necessarily fits with what I have said, but simply because I like it.

Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)

“CALVIN:   This whole Santa Claus thing just doesn’t make sense. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery?
If the guy exists why doesn’t he ever show himself and prove it?
And if he doesn’t exist what’s the meaning of all this?
HOBBES:   dunno. Isn’t this a religious holiday?
CALVIN:     Yeah, but actually, I’ve got the same questions about God.” 

 – Bill Watterson

Loyal

“If all my friends were to jump off a bridge, I wouldn’t follow. I’d be at the bottom to catch them when they fall.”

 – Anonymous

One of my weaknesses, according to my mother, is that I’m too loyal to my friends.  Out of loyalty to my mother I’m not going to go into why her opinion on that matter doesn’t hold much value for me.  We are like chalk and cheese in that regard, and there is not much we see eye to eye on.  I’m learning to accept that, and I still love her.

I’ve never seen loyalty as a weakness, although I accept that at times my loyalty has hurt me.  That’s where it gets hard.  At what point do I protect myself from hurt, because sure hurt is part of life.  If I don’t risk hurt, then am I really alive?

What is loyalty?  Out of curiosity, and amusement, I looked up the Urban Dictionary.  It defines loyal as:

“Faithful to a person or a cause;  firmly in alliance
to somebody or 
something.   Always there for

somebody when they need you.”  (1.)

As a comparison, the Oxford Dictionary (the one I grew up with) defines it as:

“giving or showing firm and constant  support
or allegiance to a person”
  (2.)

From both of those definitions, I’m still inclined to refuse to see loyalty as a weakness.  Actually I don’t think there is enough of it in our world today.  Wouldn’t it be great if we believed in the people who matter to us, and stood by them, no matter what?

Actually I’m inclined to believe that mental illness wouldn’t be such a big problem if we stood by our friends.  I’m not denying the seriousness of mental illness, but I am convinced that it’s effects are made worse because of isolation and a lack of care for each other.

I’m not one of those people who has hundreds of friends on Facebook.  I know plenty of people but regardless of Facebook’s definition of ‘friend’ I choose my friends because they are people who matter to me personally.  There is something wrong when I can have hundreds, if not thousands, of ‘friends’ but not have one that I can turn to in need.

Even aside from social media I don’t have a whole lot of people that I count as friends, but those that I do can know that I believe in them and I will support them, no matter what.  It’s not my place to judge anyone, ever.  Although don’t get me wrong, I choose my friends very carefully.  I guess in a way you have to earn your friendship with me, and I repay that with loyalty.  I will always stand by people I call my friends.

But yes, sometimes that hurts.  And it has hurt over the past week as I have chosen to be loyal to a friend I love.  Not because that friend has hurt me in any way, but because I have chosen to share the hurt they are experiencing.

I’m not a parent but I am sure it is the same as how a parent can get hurt in loving their child.  Sometimes there is pain, but that’s not a reason to not love.  As I write, it occurs to me that sometimes it hurts me to love my mother.  But I still do, and I will still stand by her.

Actually I think it’s a shame that Facebook chose to name connections with others as ‘friends’.  It’s taken the meaning out of the word.  ‘Friends’ to Facebook are simply connections you have made, and not necessarily people who matter.  I think this cheapens, and degrades the real meaning.

Out of curiosity again I went back to the Urban Dictionary, because it’s definitions offered more sense of warmth than the Oxford.  It suggested a range of definitions of a friend, including this one:

“A person who would never intentionally hurt you, lie to you, deceive you, manipulate you, abuse you and who takes great care to be kind to you, honest with you, dependable and loyal. Someone who you trust without question because they have never given you any reason not to trust them. Someone you enjoy being around and look forward to seeing. Someone who would sacrifice themself for you.”  (3.)

I know that asks a lot, but it’s not too much for someone who offers the same back to me.  Because that’s the thing about friendship.  It goes both ways, and while I might have hurt for a friend this past week, maybe they will hurt for me next week.  It’s not that I do it for that reason, but there are benefits both ways, always.  Meantime I stand by the people I choose to call friends.  It doesn’t matter whether I have met them in person, or not.  I’ve made my decision and I will stand by them.

As regular readers will know, I am a fan of NZ music and I particularly like Dave Dobbyn.  This song is almost an over-played one in my country, but for good reason.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” 

―    Henri J.M. Nouwen,    The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey