“Sometimes you put walls up, not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”
I am incredibly grateful to have some pretty amazing friends.
Which is a real blessing because my family is 3,000 miles away and they have had to fill in at some pretty hairy moments in my life when my family couldn’t be there in person to carry me through.
My friends would tell you that they think I work hard to maintain our friendships. I don’t. Every ounce of time and energy I give to my friends I do for me.
I need them.
And I spend time with them whether it’s in person or on the phone or exchanging emails because I get something huge from having them in my life.
I get to live my truth.
But I get something more from being there for them.
In my younger days, I had friends who I consider “fair weather.” They were there during the good times, but when the going got rough, meaning I got really rough and a little frayed around the edges, I fell from grace in their eyes and they dropped me.
This isn’t a friend. A friend is someone who comes to you and says, “Hey listen…you’re behaving in ways that aren’t cool. And doing things I don’t agree with. And I really love you and don’t want to see you get hurt. Tell me what’s really going on.”
Call me out on my sh*t.
Don’t run away when I need you.
True friends—these are the ones we can bare our soul to. They are the ones who give us a dose of reality when we’re bitching about something repeatedly, making no progress and they can see we’re running in circles.
They call us out. They don’t hesitate to say, “Hey listen sister, this is you going back into your story.” or, “I’m not buying any of this. What’s really going on with you? Are you telling me everything?”
Because let’s admit, we do like to leave some of the more delicate and somewhat embarrassing details out.
But this is the only way we make progress, when we’re doing something destructive in our lives, and then grow from it. We have to be willing to trust our friends enough to bare our souls, reveal our hidden shame and just say what’s there for us.
All of it.
How can our friends help us if we aren’t willing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
I have led a very messy, imperfect life like most people. I spent the first 35 years of it hiding things I had done out of shame, therefore not allowing even my closest friends or my own family to know the real me.
I failed to get myself out of some sticky situations faster than I should have, had I allowed myself to just be honest with the people closest to me.
Here’s what happens when you out yourself and vomit your messy, imperfect, brutalful truth to people—people hardly flinch.
They actually breathe a sigh of relief: “Oh, hell yeah, she’s just like me. She screwed up. Awesome! Well, I can help with that! I’ve done that myself!”
Now the real healing and work can begin. We’re starting on level ground. Truth. Realness. No hiding. That’s what friendship is.
This past week, I was feeling hurt and a bit sad that a friend I’m trying to help wasn’t being 100 percent honest with me. I had shared all of my most shameful mistakes, painful wounds, vulnerabilities, and truths with him to make him feel safe.
I acknowledge I came in like a wrecking ball and knocked some neatly lined up beliefs he has about himself and his current situation off his shelf in an effort to wake him up, but still I expected full disclosure so I could help.
Shame really does a number on us but fear does more. And we should feel neither of these with true friends. We should be able to be 100 percent who we are in their presence and trust they will love us anyway.
After they call us out on our sh*t, of course.
Here’s what we do for people when we call them out on the things they are doing: We make it easier for them to be honest with themselves. We get to the real meat and bones of the situation. We force them to dig deeper than they are willing to go alone to get at the source of what’s really going on for them.
We push them over the edge. And sometimes, we all need to be pushed.
I don’t want a friend who “yeses” me to death. Who politely nods and says, “I totally support whatever you decide to do.”
I want you to be real with me. Tell me when I’m making a mistake. Tell me when I’m falling back into an old behavior pattern that isn’t healthy. Force me to admit the real reasons I did something instead of the lies I’m telling myself.
That is a real friend: someone who is holding up a mirror and forcing me to look at my real, authentic self and admit the truth.
No shame. No hiding. No pretending to be what I’m not. When I’m able to do that, I’m able to heal wounds, break unhealthy patterns in my life, make better choices for myself.
And I can’t do this unless I have friends willing to call me out on all of it.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Travis May