I owe lots of people email replies. I simply cannot handle being in front of the computer screen for too long each day and not for too many days a week. The sitting position, squinting at the screen, and wrist typing position, tense up my body, neck and shoulders, and eventually will set off a migraine if I’m not careful.
Anxiety sets in when when I owe people replies, especially those I would like to sit down and type a proper reply to. I also get nervous that if I don’t reply to my readers soon I might lose them. So to one particular friend, who’s helped me immensely even though we’ve only met each other a year or so ago, I dropped her a quick note and apologized for not having written back for almost a month, and will do so soon.
She wrote back and said, “Noch, it’s ok, I’m a no-guilt-no-pressure friend…”
That relief and sense of tranquility that came through my body as I read that line. I felt so loved all of a sudden! Anne of Green Gables would call someone like her a kindred spirit!
Unfortunately, some friends do stress me out. I get apologetic that I can’t respond as promptly or see them or chat on skype (and yet when I email / whatsapp them they never reply). It felt like an obligation that I owed them a proportional response for some reason.
The days as I was leaving Paris a few years back, I thought I had committed a heinous crime for not seeing one particular friend for a while as I was engrossed in my moving, packing bags, and saying goodbye to friends and flings alike. The feeling lasted for a long time. I was so guilty. But I had seen her a few times already and I can’t spend every day with her surely! And then when I was in the worst days of depression, she reprimanded me for not picking up the phone and not talking to her. Back then I didn’t know how to respond since I had no idea what was going on with me, but now I think back – seriously?!
However, maybe before attributing blame on others I should look internally.
It was perhaps never their intentions to guilt trip me into replying despite their “why don’t you write back?”s and “I called you many times why don’t you pick up the phone?”s. They were genuinely concerned for me and wanted to know I was doing ok. I just somehow had this idea in my head that it’s something I should do and since I hadn’t done it, I felt dreadful.
As I try to reduce my judging of others using my own experience and mentality, I am trying to be more like my no-guilt-no-pressure friend – happy when I hear from them, and just continue saying a little prayer for them when I do not.
However, in the unfortunate event that others do pressure me into doing something I do not want to do at that point in time, such as booking an easy domestic flight for a trip 3 months away, or calling me 10 times in a row even though I didn’t want to pick up the phone, then I need to be firm and not be afraid to say “No” in one form or another.
We don’t need to feel guilty for what’s beyond our capacity and what makes us feel uncomfortable. We all have different thresholds.
Take it easy – allow friends their time and space, but also require the same respect from them in return.
And for those who scold me for not replying and responding, I’m sorry but I might draw a distance from you. I cannot allow negative energy in my life right now. Indeed, I don’t think we should be abused emotionally by anyone at anytime. So perhaps, we do have to choose carefully those who influence us.
The most beautiful friendships are those that allow you to feel completely natural with no sense of obligations. Those are friends who give you free rein to be truly yourself. You will feel the serenity that comes with these friends.
If there is a small tug inside you, then re-examine your relationship with those people to determine whether they need to be in your life at this point in time. Let not external factors disturb the balance we seek for.
What kind of friend are you? And is there anyone you need to take a break from?
These are just my thoughts and I’d love to hear about your experience and what you think in the comments below. Also, if you liked this blurb please share with your friends and help my blog grow. Thanks!