Call it: All Relationships Take Work

Every relationship takes work. Friendships, romantic, networking, business. Call it emotional labor. Whatever. If you’re not doing your share of the work, you suck at friendship. You can’t just expect it to work because you think it does. It won’t. People are fluid, emotional, up and down, dealing with so much more than they seem—so suck it up and ask how they’re doing. Make the date to hang out with the person who listens to you all the time, one on one, see what’s going on in their lives. Oh, sure, you’re used to just talking about everything and not listening, but that doesn’t actually make a relationship.

When you realize someone else isn’t doing their share of the emotional work, isn’t doing their share of the physical housework, isn’t doing their share of anything and is focusing on the things that don’t matter—why can’t you be better, why can’t you just be happy for me, et fucking cetera—gods, you feel like everything is wrong with you, when you’ve been doing all this work to make their lives easier and let them not think about you—and that’s not fair.

You’re a person too. You deserve to be treated with respect for your emotions and whole self just as much as others are. You can’t just be invisible because you listen well. You can’t be the wraith who cares about everyone else, and not let anyone else care about you. That makes it that much more special when people do care about you, but a thing that matters more are the people who work for your friendship. It’s extremely important.

More things I’ve learned:

  • You can’t expect for someone to be your friend just because you live together. You have to make an effort and communicate that you’d like to be friends, even if you already have friends in common. Friendship is not transitive. So get to work and ask that person if they want to watch a movie with you. Else they’ll be too busy with their busy, fulfilling life to make time for you.
  • Living with friends does not actually mean you’ll be friends without taking the time to BE friends.
  • Figuring out what you want IS important.
  • People who are completely oblivious to feelings maybe aren’t the right people to be friends with.
  • As mentioned a couple days ago by someone who is actively attempting to establish a friendship with me (go working at it!), GAD means you notice things. Clearly I have way too much of this and not enough of others in my life noticing things about me.

It’s terrifying, how hard it is to see behind someone’s surface. I’m full of roiling emotions with a pretty, confident, put-together exterior, and I don’t know how to cry for help. And besides, who would love and accept me if I showed them all of me?

It’s terrifying, to be full of difficult emotions and dealing with them all on your lonesome. Afraid to ask for help. Afraid to ask for clarification. Doubts turned into full-blown worst case scenarios by anxiety. Anxiety and Depression, the twin demons of self-destruction, ready to pull out all stops until you’re dead.

They sneak up on you, sometimes. They know when you’re wearing down, when something else has pressured you too hard, when your normally well-wrought shields have a crack here, growing thinner there. And then they shove themselves in there and leave you gibbering in terror, but not where anyone can see. No, your physical body is a robot, going through the motions as normally as possible — hiding in your room is just as much an introvert quality as it is an in hideous pain and fighting to survive quality — while inside, deep in the pit of your soul, you’re howling, crying, banging against the chains Anxiety and Depression have bound you with. Grasping hard on the whisper-thin cords leading to the promises you’ve made, the ones that tell you to stay here, now, to keep fighting, because we love you, because I love you enough to make you promise to stay with me—

It doesn’t always feel like enough. But it is. You curl up in bed and you survive another day, ready to fight again the next fight, storing up all your energy to one day, again, break free and reinforce those shields. Until again they come back for you, and the cycle continues.

And you just keep going, and no one knows the battle you’ve fought and won. A thankless task, sometimes, this staying alive. But you’ve made those promises, and you won’t break them. You won’t. And that’s what gives you the strength.

You’re strong for fighting this fight. Those demons have so many more tools at their disposal, and you just have you. I’m so amazed and proud of how well you’ve done.