5 Friends

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My father always used to say that when you die, if you’ve got five real friends, then you’ve had a great life  ~ Lee Iacocca

Yesterday, I told you whenever I come out as mentally ill, the reception is frosty, if not downright hostile and sometimes even destructive to me.   However, I have had a handful of people stay by my side.  Their only question: “What can I do?” And, I usually get a big hug.  It’s nice when people say I am the same person despite it and they mean it.

I’ve found my five real friends and I am thankful for that.

I am warmed by those friendships that have survived my crisis because they are true and genuine. Today, I sent each of them a message, simply saying, in the words of the Golden Girls, “thank you for being a friend.”

When I had my first breakdown, I had a friend for every day of the week. I had an active social life. I threw dinner parties. I met people at their parties. I went to social events.  I met people at the gym. I had friends at work. I had friends all around me. I never wanted for companionship or conversation. I thought everyone should be invited to my party.  If you wanted to be happy, come on over!

And, I told these people everything. They knew everything about me. I never held anything back because I just didn’t see the need. Later I would discover, I hardly knew anything about them.  I was too busy being the life of the party. Now, I realize I should have keep my mouth shut and paid attention more to what they were doing. I would have learned a lot.

Dr. Phil says, “Never miss a good chance to shut up!” He thinks we have no business taking others into our confidence until you really know what they’re really about. You get that information by listening, not talking. I learned that the hard way.

I felt so much freer when everybody left my life. I realized how much time and energy I was spending on other’s people lives and problems.  Keeping up those relationships drained me physically, mentally and emotionally.

Do not take on happy free loaders or energy vampires. Not everyone wants to be happy. Some people are happy to be miserable. Lord, the lip service someone will give you. Maybe they don’t even know they are lying.  Some people will say everything you want to hear while undermining you behind your back.

When I had my first breakdown, I had a friend who swore she didn’t care about my diagnosis; she wanted to help me; and she cared. It wasn’t until I told her that I couldn’t help her with her problem because I was busy with my own disaster that she turned nasty. People will do that. Tell someone no and see how they react. A true friend will understand. One of those nasty vampires will throw a royal fit and if that happens, it’s best they know very little about you.

Of course, you have to love the “My life is perfect. Get your life together” judgment. I had that happen too.  Even though I had known some of these people for over a decade, symptom free and carefree, when I fell, they acted like they didn’t even know me. That I was some bum. The nerve!

In short, I used to just jump into the pool of friends, see something defective and try to get out of the pool without anybody noticing.  Nowadays, I’m much more reserved. 

Just the other day I had someone call me mean just because I didn’t dive into the pool of friendship all eager beaver. I just let them call me names and walked away.  I wanted to say, “Easy, buddy! Slow down. I don’t even know you!” but I didn’t even get a chance. Good riddance though.

It might be harsh but that is the way I deal with people now. I keep my facebook list tight.  I keep only the people I need in my phone.  I don’t reach out to people just to have company.

I have always been happy with my own company. I occupy myself with planning visiting my friend in Japan, crafts, projects, writing and getting to Paris.