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The Value of My Friendship

June 1, 2017

What am I worth as a person?  Why would anyone want to be my friend, or even spend time with me?  Am I inept as a person, pointless, valueless in both time spent with me and the person that I am?  Why would I inflict myself on anyone?

These thoughts used to spin round my head constantly, and to be perfectly frank with myself, they still do.  Social anxiety quite often comes with depression, either before it develops or as a symptom afterward and I still struggle with the idea that I have a worth and that people will want to spend time with me, just me, not for any particular reason.

For years I felt I had to have an excuse to visit with my friends.  I would be cooking them a meal, or had been invited by them for an evening/afternoon, or was helping them with a particular task.  Some tangible evidence that there was a point to my presence in their lives.  I could not simply pop over for a cup of tea, or drop by on the off-chance they were in just to hang out.  To put this in perspective, for 11 years I lived in a shared house of 10 people, in a housing cooperative of 125 people, all like-minded and, well, quite hippyish.  Even there, I could not visit the next door house, or even knock on the rooms of those in my own house.  Using the shared kitchen with others around became very difficult at times.

I know I’m not alone in this, and I do believe the destruction of ‘community’ is partly to blame.  We are no longer able to stay near our families, to work where we live and we become separated, our lives become compartmentalised, and casual socialising is no longer as easy as it once was.

There are many reasons for my social anxiety, but there is one particular incident which helped me to overcome my belief that I was not worthy to be a friend and it involved stepping way out of my comfort zone by putting myself first, and taking a huge risk.   It involved a man who in one simple conversation taught me that I am worthy, whatever I may think.

I was in love with him.  Well, I had a MASSIVE crush at any rate, and he was my best friend for quite some years.  It reached the point where it was painful to be near him because I simply could not turn those feelings off (I’m sure we all know how painful unrequited love is).  I knew he did not feel the same way about me without us ever having discussed it, and I had hoped for many months that the feelings would just die away, but they didn’t.

We would hang out almost every evening; I felt safe and it was a great laugh.  He was a genuinely good man.  Those ‘in love’ feelings developed in spite of me, and hope is a real bugger sometimes.  It doesn’t matter what the mind knows, the heart will hope on regardless.  I knew I couldn’t carry on, the pain was just too much for me.

So I wrote him a letter.  I stated exactly how I felt, and that I was completely aware that he did not return those feelings, and that it was okay, but it hurt too much to be around him and that I would not be coming over to visit for a while until I managed to get over it.  I had to write it down and deliver it to him because there was no chance in hell I would be able to actually speak those words.

I hoped he’d be okay with the letter but he really wasn’t.  He was very upset, but not because of what I’d said but because he didn’t want to lose me as a friend.  He valued my friendship, and he let me know that he valued it.  He understood, and he cared enough not to give false hope or to be embarrassed and wish it would all go away.  He missed me as a friend.

You have no idea how much that meant to me (well you do, because I’ve just told you).  It meant more than being a girlfriend or partner ever would.  That a person would tell me that he understood my feelings and that he valued my friendship, and that he was upset because I wouldn’t be around for a while meant so much.

Something clicked in my head, and a lightbulb went off.  A true moment of clarity, and I realised that whilst I was in love with him, that would pass, but the love of a true friend was worth far more to me than what would only ever be a transient ‘in love’ relationship (because deep down I always knew we were not really suited to the long term as a couple).

I still struggle with social anxiety, still find it difficult to pop over to see someone, but this memory helps me with that.  It helps me to realise that it is my psyche which is telling me I am not of value as a friend, not the reality of my friendships.  It’s not what I do that I am valued for, but who I am.  I know the value of my friendship now, and it is thanks to that man.

I will always love him for that, and I hope I am as good a friend to others as he was to me.

Friends

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From → Autobiography

4 Comments
  1. You are worth as much and no less than anyone else♡

  2. Ah dysthymia a constant foe and a powerful and pervasive one at that. In times of lucidity, such as they are, I wonder just how relaxing a life must be where you have a sense of worth enough to not need to analyse your behaviour and how people may have perceived it after the event to determine whether you need to speak to them to ensure they didn’t misunderstand you and honestly I’m not an arsehole etc. etc. etc.

    I mean if you could avoid the need for all that dialogue just think of the time you’d have for other stuff!

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