Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Had an impressive session with my shrink last night. I told her that I'm really pretty happy these days, and that makes me feel bad because my oldest friend is suffering and just keeps on suffering, no matter what I do.

The doc started by pointing out the obvious -- that there isn't a finite amount of happy in the world, and that when I'm feeling good it's not like I'm preventing her from being happy. I know that. That doesn't mean I don't feel that way, but I know it's not true.

And then there's the fact that it isn't up to me to make my oldest friend happy or whole. It's unrealistic. It's undoable. It's dopey. I know that, too. I just need to be reminded.

Now here's the revelation: my need to fix her life may actually be harming and not be helping. This part I didn't get until my shrink pointed it out to me.

When I tell my best friend to join a congregation … to eat healthier … to stop smoking … to reach out to her friends and family more authentically … to enforce boundaries with her kids … etc., she's probably not hearing the love and support I intend. Heard through the filter of her overwhelming vulnerability, she may just hear, "Why didn't I think of that? I suck."

Instead, when she's blue, I should just say, "I'm sorry. How can I help?" And then, instead of solving, I should shut up and just listen.

Wow. Just wow.


  1. Anonymous6:36 PM

    somedays I wish I had bitten the bullet and gone on to get my Masters degree in counseling. Today is one of them. I'm glad that you have had that revelation! Hopefully it'll help with your friendship with your oldest friend. I bet it will.

  2. I think we all have to be in a place, though, gal, where we can HEAR that advice - I know you know in your heart of hearts that your intention was to be there for her. You just needed to re-frame how you do that. And clearly you were in an open place to do that.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - your heart is so big that no matter how you do it, your love and caring come through. I see it every day here on this blog.

    (Duty does that "here are 50 things you can do right now to make your life better" and I want to strangle him but I know his heart (like yours) is in the right place. Do I wish he were open to that same re-frame? Yes. I've told him so and there are times he remembers to just listen.)