Mike and I hadn’t been dating long when he said to me, “wow, you have a lot of friends.” I do have a lot of friends. After my family, my friendships are the most important thing to me in the world.
I throw myself full-force into my friendships. I give everything I can to them. And 99% of the time, I am so glad I do. When Maddie passed, my friends came through for me a million-fold. We would have been lost without them.
But then there is that 1%. Part of the problem with loving a friend so wholly is that they can catch you completely off-guard, and hurt you in such a startlingly unexpected way. Someone can be so nice to you, and then turn around and do something so thoughtless to you or someone else that you’re left with your mouth hanging open in shock.
On my elementary school report cards, my teachers used to write, “doesn’t think before she speaks.” When I was old enough to understand what that meant, I made a HUGE effort to take a breath and contemplate my actions. Most of the time, that breath kept me from doing something really stupid. Sometimes the breath should have been longer. It’s a skill everyone should work on.
Too often in life we don’t put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We do things to people that we would NEVER want done to ourselves. Either through deliberate maliciousness, misguided benevolence, or downright stupidity, someone’s feelings and unique circumstances aren’t taken into account. The extra breath is forgotten.
The reason I have so many friends now is because when I was a kid, I lost a lot of them. I made other little people cry, and I am very ashamed of young Heather. But I learned my lesson, and I strive to be the kind of friend to others that I want in return. So I weigh every word and action carefully, taking my time. All I ask in return is that my friends do the same.