I have spent the first half of this year focusing on “facing my demons” (per my New Year’s resolution) and embarking on a path of self-discovery, which mostly involves facing my darker issues head-on. Part of this process is coming to terms with the wrongs I may have inflicted on other people, the trite and the grave. If the purpose of becoming healthier emotionally is to live a happier life, I would like to think that such improvements would not come with collateral damage to those around me. The problem is, although I have made great strides in reducing my proclivity to avoidance (apparently I’m very good at this – entire swaths of my childhood have disappeared from my memory), I have not been able to walk the fine line between providing honest feedback (the hallmark of a good friend, right?) and being overly harsh, or to tread lightly between being a good listener (another “good friend” trait) and enabling/prolonging self-indulgence.
I think I often fail to come to terms with the fact that people may not be interested in change at this exact juncture in his/her life — I certainly wasn’t before this year. Too often, I end up trying too hard to change people’s mind or to give unsolicited advice, and in the process possibly damaging the friendship. I often wonder – can true friendship survive in light of not seeing eye-to-eye on serious issues?
I would like to think that true friendship can and will endure. The reality is that people will change when/if they want to change, and if they are not interested, it does not matter what you do. You cannot “save” them from whatever it is, and even by thinking this perhaps you are already engaging in a level of arrogance that may chip away at the relationship. Perhaps the role of a good friend is simply to be a constant source of support. Easier said than done, of course.
This was a somewhat distressing realization – nothing like figuring out that you may not be as good of a person as you think you are. So, to those I have inadvertently wounded, I hope to be forgiven. Meanwhile, my goal is striving to be more gentle, more forgiving, more compassionate and more supportive. In other words, to be a better friend.