Weighty Matters

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Friends That Get Me

on February 20, 2014

A long time ago I read a dialogue exchange in a book between two characters who were discussing whether one of them could truly understand a situation having never experienced it. The other character said something along the lines of, “You don’t have to know how to make a soufflé to appreciate eating one.”

I think of that response a lot when connecting, or at least trying to connect, with something a friend or family member is going through. My close friends are like family to me. One of the greatest gifts of these close, heart relationships is the empathy we share. That closeness and understanding that comes from truly getting each other. Even if we don’t have first hand experience with a particular situation, we can still understand what our friends experienced because we know each other and how things affect us. We don’t have to have been on the same trip to share the joy of the friend who did the traveling. We don’t need to have gone through the similar truly heartbreaking circumstance, to sincerely open up our hearts and compassion, our arms for hugs, our shoulders to cry on.

I am fortunate to have at least one dear friend who also has an eating disorder. (Not that I’m happy that someone else has to battle food issues, but since she does, I’m super glad we’re friends. *waving at her as she reads this*) We’ve been friends a long time and our relationship is not only a friendship, it’s also a support system.

I have many more friends who don’t have eating disorders, nor any other addictive disease or behavior. Like those people who love a good soufflé without ever having tried to make one, they don’t need to share my disorder in order to relate to me. It’s enough that they know that I have one. They can and do still listen to what I say about it or what I share when I’m having some struggles.

Friends that get me mean the world. Having anyone in your life who truly knows you — your sterling traits and character defects alike — and accepts and loves you opens up incredible freedom of expression. When you know you’re not only going to be understood but also not judged, and that the other person is able and willing to bottom line things with you and tell you not what you want to hear, but also what you need to hear, you can safely go deep with your thoughts and feelings.

Earlier this evening, I was on the phone for more than an hour with a long time, dear, friend who is as close to being my younger sister as is possible without actually sharing DNA. We were overdue for a good catching up call and, boy, did we ever cover a lot of topics, circumstances, stories and everything else under the conversational sun. Some were deep, some were funny, some were just needing to be shared and heard. It was great. My heart smiled throughout and after.

This quality of friendship is precious. The relationships not only need to be cherished, they must be nurtured. They can’t exist if only one person gets it. There has to be equal openness, acceptance and understanding on both sides. Not every interaction will be perfectly balanced. Sometimes one friend will need more and that’s okay. It balances out over time. I only know that in order to receive this gift, I need to be in a place to give it back.

Gotta love having friends who get me.

2 responses to “Friends That Get Me

  1. Hope says:

    Hooray for fantastic friendships!

  2. Skye says:

    Friends who get you are priceless. My friends in Houston were sweet and caring, but didn’t really get me. My friends in Seattle (and many of my friends online) get me. It’s so much more freeing and comfortable and easy than talking with friends who care but just can’t make that empathetic leap. It’s great that you have friends you can really talk with and who can really talk with you. Without them, living our lives would be so much more difficult.

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