What do we expect of our friends? 'Expect', it's such a harsh unforgiving word, I keep thinking of that phrase-'expectation leads to disappointment.' But it is a part of our language and I guess it is a learned cognition or thought process.. it is an entrenched part of daily life, expectations are everywhere... but let us steer away from a rant of societies sad reliance on expectations (and the laziness of it).... and let us also move away from how i much prefer us to be zen-like and approach each person and event with a clean slate (tabla rasa)... without expectation....but who among us can do this always?, I know I cannot.. but again i rant....let me return to the topic of friends...
Friends, they are there for us, but should we expect them to be? Friends/partner.. how do they differ?... well except from the obvious difference of 'sexual intimacy' (but then the concept of 'friends with benefits' blurs that once obvious boundary), there is intimacy between friends, there is love, trust, a shared history... When it comes to partners I have always said that our partners are not our one-stop-shop. That we cannot expect our partners to be everything to us, lover, companion, friend, confidant etc...what about our friends? Surely this would extend to them as well?
In ye olden days, yes, the good old days when we lacked a certain standard of hygiene, 3-D cinema and affordable 4 star hotels.. yes, before urbanisation, we were surrounded by extended family and this large group was made up of people who fulfilled different social and emotional functions and 'shared the load', we all did. Now days we live in tiny rooms, in cities of anonymity. Our circles of friendship and trust seem smaller and we seem to rely on less people for more. We seem to burn out those around us, our partner's and our friend's. Is it any wonder that relationships don’t seem to last as long as they used to? (I acknowledge that this is a complex issue and one factor is not the only reason for the breakdown in long term relations (a sad feature of modern life), but surely this reason must weigh heavily?). What do we do?.. stop sharing in order to ensure how friendships, our relationships survive.. but what does this really mean?.. To keep things to ourselves, to be secretive, to be dishonest, to have shallow relations. Is this what we want? I know I don't want this. I value the deepness and honesty of my friendships.. the fact that we share and discuss many things, sure we are flip and glib at times, laugh and act silly, but we can also talk of deep things, share tears, and be honest about our hopes, fears and failings, this is all quite normal and natural.. as life is complex, why would be expect our friendships to differ? How boring to limit and compartmentalise our friendships- I can only talk to him about these topics, her about this, and I must not mention homosexuality or religion to that one... how painful. Sure this might be the case for certain exceptions, but how sad if it is to be the rule. But how do we ensure that we do not over burden our loved ones? Do we seek other means of venting and release? What other ways can our social and emotional burdens be shared? I do not know.... Do we need to go back to the days of being part of larger groups, so that the social and emotional support is shared?, and if so, how do we re-connect with these larger groups of people? Or do we just ensure that we take enough personal time and space when we need to 'recharge' our abilities to listen and be empathetic?
Recently I had an interesting chat with a mate, who felt that while on one hand I was being uncomfortably honest in my blogging (for him and his mates), and he felt that the sharing of emotional material was not meant to be done on a forum such as a blog, on the other hand, he was tired of my on going dialogue about .. well you know.. that guy I still like (yes i am sure we are all tired of this, none more so than that person himself!). My friends tiredness of my topic of conversation is far from wrong, we all hold a right to be tired of any topic of conversation. I tire of my own topics and self often!! (oh to be me...) but his thoughts on being too honest... well i disagree.
My friend was concerned that bloging was becoming a substitute of sorts, for discussion of intimate and serious matter that is best done with friends or counsellors. Sure, blogging is a form of public journaling. It is a form of communication, but that does not mean that it replaces traditional methods of communication, no, i see it as complimenting them.
I can honestly say that I do not blog as a substitute for counseling, nor to raise red flags that I need help.. I blog about whatever I feel like writing about at the time,and only share what I feel comfortable doing. Why? why not?? We need more emotional honesty in this world....Without it what are we? My female friends read some of my 'emotionally honest' blogging and share their own similar experiences, it becomes a conversation starter...a way to connect to each other. Instead of sitting somewhere and feeling like you are the only person who has ever experienced something.... Unfortunately some of my male friends fill a stereotype, they cringe and feel angry or upset..such strong emotional responses, about err...their uncomfortableness and disapproval of the sharing of emotional experiences (yeah.. I am confused over this one as well)- 'We men, we no talk about emotions, you quiet! me go club tonight's dinner, you make stew'.
What are we if we cannot be honest? or to be deep? Shall we be shallow or forever flippant instead?, To do so is to live a partial life, a dishonest and untruthful one.... I do not say that we need to be accepting of another’s honesty, for that is personal and for the individual to decide what they are comfortable with... but surely honesty is to be encouraged.. for is this not a value that we try and instill in children? I think about the disproportionately high number of young gay men in regional settings who take their own lives because they cannot be honest about themselves....to be honest or not be, that is the question ! I do know that there isn't 'one' right answer.. only an answer that is right for each of us. For me, my right answer is 'honesty within the realms of comfortableness'. For you?.. well, only you can say. And as for sharing the load of each others emotional and social 'baggage', so that we do not burn each out out, how do we do that?.. I have no idea... I'll think about that one, after my next counselling session.. err I mean .. after i have posted my next blog ;-)