A few weeks ago a friend told me about a difficult situation she was facing. It was complicated and hurtful and she wasn’t sure how to handle it. I wasn’t sure, either, even after she shared a bit about what was going on. As we talked, though, she admitted to feeling anxious about more than just the first situation.
I listened and tried to reassure her, but she eventually fell completely apart. Like, sobbing. The kind that sends a friend rushing around the room to find a box of tissues. The kind a friend doesn’t know how to fix.
As that helpless friend, I was heartbroken for my friend and the deep sadness she was feeling – but I was also honored. Honored that she trusted me with her heart, that she valued my friendship enough to be so honest.
So when she apologized for crying and losing control of her emotions, I immediately told her to QUIT IT. No apologies were necessary, which I assured her repeatedly. Fighting the urge to break into song, I reminded her “that’s what friends are for.”
Later as I thought about that tearful conversation, I flashed to all the times I’ve been the crying friend with the apologies. I remembered all the times I’ve felt embarrassed, post-cry-fest – and made everything so much more awkward by apologizing all over myself. I know well the feeling of vulnerability when you’ve accidentally let your true self show; the fear that now that they know who you really are, they will run as fast as they can in the opposite direction; the certainty that you were a burden, an annoyance, that needy friend nobody really likes.
It’s why I try REAL hard now to keep it all buttoned up. To share JUST ENOUGH but never TOO MUCH. It’s why I try to keep my falling apart to a bare minimum, even when I’m barely holding it together.
Well, in the spirit of this month’s “I’m Not Sorry” series, I’m going to take back a few apologies. Friends on whose shoulders I have cried? I’m not actually sorry after all.
What I am is GRATEFUL. I’m grateful your shoulders were strong enough and available, that you cared enough to hold me and listen to me and look away as I blew my nose, again. Thank you for being there for me and please, please don’t apologize if the day comes when I can return the honor.
I’m not sorry for that one time (or, to a few friends, those many times) I fell apart. Thank you for letting me fall apart.
Falling apart is sometimes necessary for us to grow, to get through what we’re going through, to experience transformation. And letting other people in while we do that falling apart? It’s kind of a big deal – and I’m talking about it over at (in)courage today. Join me there by clicking here.
Do you apologize when you fall apart?
This post is part of the 31 Days Writing Challenge. To read all the posts in this series, click here. And to learn more about this challenge or to find more series to read, visit Write31Days.com. Apple photos courtesy of my brother, James.
Mary, I love reading your blog and also your posts on (in)courage. I think it’s time to update your (in)courage bio. Annalyn is not longer a preschooler, and now you have your beautiful Adrienne!
Thanks for all the truth and humor. :-)
Thanks, Melissa! And…um…yeah. Going to update that right…now…
Thanks Mary! What a wonderful reminder that the more real we become with each other the less sorry we feel (or hopefully) and the more we share our vulnerability the more we give someone else the permission to do the same. We need to bring back that culture of quilting bees and strengthening one another! Bless you friend!
Oooooh…quilting bees. I love that idea! I had lunch with two friends and four of our littles today, and I tell you what: none of us quilt, but we could really use ANY gathering without the kids around! It might be time to pull out some needles! ;)