My friend comes to me with all her problems. She calls me up at midnight when she fights with her boyfriend not giving a hoot that I live half a world and six hours in time zones away. When the phone rings at ungodly hours I let out a groan, heave a sigh, remind myself that I am single and so must ALWAYS subtly side with the boyfriend and then I pick up the phone. As her hysterical dramatics flow in through one ear and out the other I “oh” and “mhm” and repeat my by now familiar script by rote:
“No, I don’t mind that you woke me”,
”Oh yes, you were definitely right”,
“No, he shouldn’t have said that, but I don’t think he meant any harm”.
I listen to her declarations of anger and hatred as she swears to leave him for good. Rolling my eyes in the dark and praying for patience I dig myself back under the covers and tell her not to make any decisions in anger. “Give it a few days”, I say stifling a yawn. “Talk to him on Friday when you both must have calmed down, and try not to raise your voice”. I shake my head and chuckle as I end the call, knowing that in two days she’ll wake me up again to, barely concealing her ecstasy, tell me they are back together.
My friend comes to me with all her problems. When she sends me an IM, “I’m coming to your cube” I groan, heave a sigh and resign myself to losing an hour of work I will have to make back somehow. As she moans about her boss I fix a concerned look on my face and remind myself that she will do exactly as I say so I have to be careful not to make jokes about handing in her notice and punching her boss on the way out. As she finishes narrating her ordeal for the day and looks at me forlornly I tell her she’s doing a great job and not to take her boss’ rants personally. “The man likes the sound of his own voice”, I say, trying to read my emails through the corner of my eye, “If you guys weren’t there for him to bark at he would yell at a light switch”. I shake my head and smile as she walks back to her cube, knowing that in a few weeks she’ll be forwarding me an email from her boss recognizing her for her good work on one project or another.
I love my friends and for a few minutes every day I like being the one they come to. It makes me feel smart, savvy, wise, like I have the answers to all life’s problems. And the rest of the time? The rest of the time I desperately wish I could be like my friends and have the courage to ask for help, to tell someone “I’m in pain” without making a joke of it to preserve my pride or shrugging and finishing the sentence in “…but I’ll be fine” (here I always picture myself pocketing my hands, turning round and walking away in slow motion. Maybe with a car exploding behind me action film style). But I simply don’t know how.