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Spring Cleaning Friends
Winter is long. It’s rough. You’re stuck inside, cuddling your blanket for warmth and your roommate comes in to tell you all about their problems. Again. It’s spring now and you’re ready to move on, get out of the house, and never have to see that person ever again. But you wonder what they’re going to do without you, who else is going to listen to their problems. If you can’t stand it anymore and you’re their friend, then who will?
We need to remember that people are flexible; they can move on or change. If you keep doing the same thing and not speak up, then nothing will change. There comes a time when you need to step up and tell them what’s wrong. Sometimes, you need a friendship breakup, or just a break if that’s what you think is better. Relationships can grow stronger after spending some time apart. Tensions get high, and the only way to relieve them can be to split up.
As we move into spring, keep these things in mind. It’s time to move outdoors, take care of yourself by going on walks, getting back into sports, having campfires. Doing this can help you to refresh by spending some time to yourself. Once you and your friend take these steps of self-care, it will be easier to enter the same room together again and not be as resentful towards them. You need to take care of yourself and determine what is best for a relationship before spending all of your energy on an unchanging circumstance.
It is important to consider balance between the amount of love you’re offering to your friend vs self-love. This can be hard in the caregiver position. You don’t tend to feel like you should ask for help if you are more “stable” than your friend. You must remember that you are just as capable of falling into a bad place because you’re putting yourself into the background. The person asking for help recognizes that you are an important person, or else they would not be coming to you. Remind them that the way they are treating you may not be acceptable.
If things like ranting and constantly asking for help is common, and your friend is not reciprocating your needs, or asking how you are doing in return for the attention you are offering them, then it is okay to ask for space. When people are going through a personal crisis, they do not always understand or recognize that you are going through things too. It’s easy to assume that when you tell them that you are hurting because of them, then that will make them feel more burdensome and alone. However, this will give them the chance to re-evaluate your friendship. Get them to understand that better communication can make your friendship stronger. If you have run out of things to say, then you have become the equivalent of a teddy bear or diary.
On the other hand, it wouldn’t be harmful to suggest a personal diary, or go out of your way to purchase one to give to them. It could spare you a lot of time in the future. This is not meant to be abrasive, but it asks them to meditate on what they are going through. Sometimes we speak without thinking. It is healthy and mindful to do some writing when things are troubling you a lot. You can be surprised that you have the answers for yourself that nobody else can offer. The person who is struggling will learn that once they are given this option. If you are the person who is always acting as a listener, you have your own life too. You may not always be available for them. Tell your friend to write their thoughts into this diary and share it with you later when you are around. This could change the way they report their problems, or minimize what they think is important to tell you.
Moving on can be relieving, even if we don’t like to admit it. Don’t think too hard about what your friend is going to think of you if you start making a point of taking care of yourself rather than them. Once again, humans are smart and capable of being independent. We can all do what it takes to better ourselves, even if it comes at the cost of our friendship. If the friendship is worth keeping, then you will find your way back to one another. If not, then you’ve found yourself a door. The warm weather is approaching. Don’t let unhealthy relationships hold you back from it.
If you’re having trouble identifying certain issues, or don’t know how to do anything about them, click here. This page has a useful resource for self care while supporting a friend in need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if you are doing a good job as a helper.
Rachelle is a fourth year undergrad student at Western University, studying media and the public interest, and is excited to be doing a co-op with mindyourmind as a part of it. She focuses her attention on how to use her studies in a way that can benefit herself and others, keeping mental health in mind. She loves listening to and playing music, making a variety of art, and tackling new projects. As part of her placement, Rachelle will be doing a series of blogs about the connection between music and mental health.
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