I hope you enjoy this series and that you’ll take a moment to give us some feedback. Perhaps it will even inspire you to submit topic ideas or raise your hand to be a guest blogger yourself! ~Sheree
Several years ago I had an “a-ha” moment about friendship.
It happened when I was having coffee with my friend Erica. I had been at a meeting in her building, so we squeezed in a quick conversation toward the end of the day. Erica seemed a little distracted, and when I quizzed her about it she admitted to having a lot going on but declined my offer of assistance. I asked Erica what would happen if I needed her help that very afternoon, even if it complicated her already tight schedule. “Of course I would help,” she said convincingly. I wondered if that would add to her own stress. Her response? “Not at all. I love the feeling of being able to help someone, especially people I care about.” I pointed out that by not asking her friends for help, she was depriving us of those same goodwill endorphins. And at the very moment I uttered that sentence, I realized something important.
We need to ask. And by we, I mean me too.
I’ve always endeavored to be thoughtful and helpful, and I think my friends would agree that I’ve been there for them, even when they didn’t ask for help. But my instinct is to be the one providing that assistance and good cheer, rather than being on the receiving end. My gentle chiding of Erica had finally made me acknowledge that it’s a good thing to ask for support for ourselves.
My interaction with Erica wasn’t my first recognition that requesting help sometimes makes all the difference. A dozen years ago, I took a call on my cell phone from a friend in crisis who was asking if we could meet somewhere. We were unknowingly driving on the exact same street, so we met in the middle just moments later, shared a good cry, and set off on an escapade to distract us from her situation.
I know how fortunate I am to be on the receiving end of this kind of deep friendship, because I can see how my own outreach for a helping hand has evolved. During a trip to Orlando, Bekk and Noelle (and Shawn) surprised me with some unplanned adventures before and after our half marathon, knowing I needed some TLC but was unlikely to ask. Rose recognizes when my frustration level starts to bubble over and is ready with a hug and insight and coffee (or a cocktail). Lynette calls me every other day in between getting her three toddlers to school and getting herself to work. She wants to know how I’m doing—but she also shares her stories with me, perhaps knowing that a burden shared (even her own) is a burden halved. And when I called Cindy one afternoon desperate for the kind of girls weekend you can only have with someone you’ve known for 35 years, she said yes immediately—even though she lives 800 miles away.
Then there’s Kate. I can’t begin to describe all the ways Kate anticipates my calls for help with (mostly) subtle suggestions about situations I’m working through. From holding me accountable for workouts to aiding my recovery after emergency surgery, she finds ways to light my life with those shared moments that become friendship legends, like introducing me to Idina Menzel in the women’s lounge at the symphony. And finally Kate understands that she can ask me for help too. She’s hasn’t always been one to speak up for herself, but I love that she’s finding her voice after listening to mine for so long.
We have to be there for each other. Sometimes we are the source of support, and sometimes we’re the ones needing that helping hand. But in the end, there is nothing more beautiful, more gorgeous, than the friends by our side.
The theme song for this post is “Gorgeous” by Idina Menzel, from her self-titled album. At the end of the series, you’ll be able to download the entire playlist for the blog series. ~Kristin