The value of friendship

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” - Henri Nouwen

They say you don't find out the value of true friendship until you find yourself in a bit of a difficult place. There's been a catalogue of adversity to overcome over the past two years and god, the last thing I want is to be is self-indulgent and boring about it, making me into some sort of powerless victim.

Life is still testing me now, it'd be pretty easy for it to all fester into a 'why do all these bad things always happen to me and my family?' kind of mentality. And I'm not entirely sure people would blame me. But there are two things that prevent that. One, being the victim only serves in making you more miserable and two, caring far too much what other people think - god forbid other people might think I'm some sort of happiness sponge, sucking the life out of their positivity.

So this approach has its advantages and its disadvantages. The advantage is resilience. It means you can just get up and keep going, no matter what. The disadvantage of course is that in doing this you don't really take as good care of yourself as you should; I have a tendency to think I should just suck it up and get on with it. I found myself with that attitude just months after my brother died - like there should've been some sort of timeline on my grief and I wasn't quite keeping up with the schedule.

My advice...we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. If a friend told you to 'suck it up, get over it and just move on', that would seem pretty harsh right?  So why do we allow our inner voices to talk to ourselves like that? Stop and listen; what does your inner voice say to you when you're having a hard time? Is it gentle or critical? How do you want to be treated by other people? Are you treating yourself how you want to be treated by others? Us British do self-deprecation really well, but sometimes we take it too far when no one else is around and it's just us, that little voice telling ourselves we're not quite good enough.

Stop for a minute, take a deep breath and really open your eyes. Who are the ones that gently and quietly support you no matter what?

I did this recently and saw something with great clarity. I've got some pretty fricking awesome friends around me. Kooky, one of a kind, clever, beautiful, kind friends. Friends that tell me off for not looking after myself, that coax me into being a bit vulnerable, that offer their help and their time, that tell me I'm clever and thoughtful and worth it, that make me laugh until I want to pee myself.

I mean, these guys are amazing. There's friends of 20 years and friends of no years. I can't believe that sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have them.

So here's to you lot, my fantastically variable, drive each other nuts but still love you, kind of friends. You are wonderful and you help me keep going. If I haven't told you how grateful for you I am enough, I'm sorry, but now I'm outing you publicly on the internet. You know who you are.