I’ve been through some rough times. Everyone has. My rough times are probably not as rough as most. But they are still my rough times. And I’ve been through them.
I can’t say that I dwell on them much anymore. But there’s one thing that I do remember often, and that’s how many friends stuck with me despite my rough times.
I’m not talking about the friends who gave me their constant support and encouragement. I’m not talking about the friends who would turned up at my house without invitation because they knew I wasn’t doing very well. I’m talking about the friends who put up with me for years while I dealt with anger and anxiety issues I wasn’t even aware I had.
The only reason I know now that I was an angry and anxious woman (and potentially depressed) is that I now know what it feels like not to be angry, anxious or depressed. (It’s wonderful).
I don’t know if my friends were even aware that I was angry, anxious and depressed. They might have thought that was just the way I am. Even so, they continued to be my friends and I love them for it.
I remember the time I invited a British friend to come shark diving with me. All I can remember from that trip was that I complained (probably almost incessantly) about how bad my life was at the moment and how lost I felt. I spent so much of the trip sitting in a corner on my own on the boat reading my book, not having the emotional energy required to socialize (with anyone). My friend came all the way from the UK to dive with me and that’s what she got. And she’s still my friend.
And all the work phone calls. ALL THE BLOODY WORK PHONE CALLS. How did anyone put up with me? Whenever I started getting anxious about something at work, I’d call up everyone involved, one after the other, and release my anxiety bombs on them. Talking about whatever it was at the time always helped me work through the anxiety. It always made me feel better. But how did they all put up with me for so many years? WHY did they put up with me?
I am forever grateful to those friends. Their patience, and even more importantly their acceptance, has taught me some of the most important lessons I could ever have learned.
I have become much better at recognizing anxiety and anger in myself. I can feel it when it wants to start welling to the surface. Recognizing them is half the battle for me. As long as I am able to identify the starting point, I have become quite adept at quelling them.
Possibly more importantly, I can also more easily detect anger and anxiety in others. And I get it. I know what it feels like. I know how awful it feels. I know how it takes control. And I know that in many cases, a listening ear will help that friend through their episode like so many listening ears helped me through mine.
I’m indebted to so many people over the course of my life. But often it’s the ones who put up with me that I’m most grateful to.