I always ask a new client about her support system.

“Who do you talk to?” I ask.

“Oh,” she usually says, “I have a couple of really close friends that I depend on.”

I hold that answer in mind during our first session, until we’ve explored the problems that brought her to therapy.  Then I ask again.

“Those friends you mentioned.  Do you talk to them about this stuff?”

And the answer I get most often is “No.”

“I’d be too embarrassed,” she’ll explain.

Or, “My friends have their own shit.”

Or, “I don’t want to burden anyone.”

This always makes me sad.

Friendship has been defined as a relationship without control.  I like that definition.

It means with real friends you can be yourself without fearing judgment or rejection.  You don’t have to be cautious or careful or tactical.  You don’t have to pretend or hold back or self-edit.  You don’t have to look good or have your shit together.

That, friends, is what friends are for.

And to the extent that someone can’t feel free in those ways, I have to wonder if her friends are really her friends.

5 responses to “Friends

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