It really is a fine line between it all. There are events in a loved one’s life that deserves all three. Sometimes you just want to be there for your friends and family, help them through their ordeals, and sometimes you have heard it all before, tired of hearing about it and the judgement card comes out unexpectedly. But I guess, above it all, all you are doing is showing your love and care.
Respect… It’s a big word that means so much. You can ‘respect’ your loved one’s decision, you can ‘respect’ your loved one’s positioning – familiar hierarchy, employment hierarchy, political variances, religious stand-point, generational differences, cultural differences and educational level, or you can ‘respect’ your loved one’s desires in life. You may not agree with their choices, but you can respect them.
Support… It’s the thing you do when you respect your loved one’s decision. You show them, no matter what, you will help them in their life to ensure that they get what they want in life. If it’s signing a petition to help a law be passed that’s important to them, if it’s being there for them when the have their debut in an amateur theatre production, if it’s just being a listening ear when they want to off-load or if they choose to have a sex-change because they feel unhappy in their body. Support is what most of your friends want from you when life turns on them.
Judge… The harsh one… The judgement card comes out when you see that your friend or family member is not seeing clearly and doing more damage to themselves than making life better for themselves. You’ve initially respected their decision, you’ve supported them through their ordeal, but you see that things just aren’t getting better and their happiness is slowly reducing to depression and you just want to whack them on the head and tell them to wake up! Some people don’t do the verbal judgement, they do the silent judgement… the judgement that slowly dwindles away the friendship or active involvement in each other’s lives.
I know I’ve been there, and I’m sure in many incidents in my life I have a lot of friends who just want to whack me across the head. I know I’ve lost many friends over the years because of my decision making. I know two of my closest friends from high school despised my boyfriend (who turned into my husband, and now ex) because I stayed with him, so our friendships ended. They chose to not have me in their lives because of my choices. And I guess that’s what happens to all of us.
I heard of one story today about a friend who has been ousted out of this woman’s life, not because her friend wanted her out of his life, but because their friendship was seen to be ‘high risk’ to his family even though their friendship had only ever been platonic. I guess his family saw it as being ‘an emotional affair.’ He is doing the perceived right thing by his family by not communicating with her anymore. This upsets this woman very much, as she misses the conversations they had, so she emails him once a month just to let him know that she’s ok. When they were talking, his main concern was the lack of interest his family had in him, something he voiced subtly in his communication with her, but also defended his family’s position more than his own position. She’s respected his decision not to communicate with her because she knows how much his family means to him, and she just wants to see him happy in the environment he chooses to stay in. Her emails showed her support in his decision because that’s what ‘he’ wanted. She looked at his Facebook pages to keep him distant but close, and some days she was absolutely appalled about how much he was being ignored, excluded in family events and not even acknowledged as being part of the family. She even saw photos of him being half the man he used to be – unshaven, wearing un-ironed clothes when he used to be so proud of his appearance, looking insipid, exhausted, like he’d put on excess weight and looked emotionally drained. His aura looked destroyed. She was boiling so much inside from what she saw after only 4 months of finishing their friendship, she had to say something… she brought out the judgement card. She told him how the eyes are the windows of the soul and how much sadness was in his eyes, she told him that she couldn’t stand that he wasn’t being acknowledged by those who love him and she could see the hurt in his face. She could see that he was trying so hard to rebuild the trust in his family’s eyes by doing what he could to be there for them, but the hurt was still there.
She felt horrible. Horrible that she too was judging him when for so long she respected and supported all decisions he had made. But what she was now finding, was that her judgement was losing her respect for him. She couldn’t believe that someone who claims that their ‘happy place’ is with his family, could lose so much ‘respect’ in himself and seriously look like he is going into a deep dark depression because he feels tied to the people he loves through his religious beliefs and marriage vows. What does this woman do? Does she leave him alone, showing him that she no longer cares to see him hurting himself so much? Or does she continue to show her respect and support when it’s sits wrong with her, but somehow she feels, if she doesn’t send her monthly emails, he would lose a sense of hope and fight in his life for what’s important to him? Or is the fact that she’s still communicating with him, even though it’s rare, his family see it as a betrayal, even though it’s something that he can’t control? She just felt that he still needed her because most of the time she was encouraging and supporting him, and she was his sign of hope that he’s doing the right thing, even though it sat wrong with her.
Frustrating… I know. But sometimes we have to think outside ourselves just to be a friend, and hopefully, one day, your friend will start to value your opinion and have the courage to do something that will actually make a difference in their lives and make them happy.