Truth moment - one of the hardest things for me is admitting I need help. I don’t know what it is though, not sure if it’s my commitment to keep up this facade that “I have it all together”, or maybe it’s because my mother (my shero) never asked for help and I don’t want to look weak; whatever it is it’s a struggle nonetheless. Not too sure who came up with this idea that we don’t need anyone else and we can do it all on our own, but I tell you one thing whoever said it is full of it! Because if we are honest, people like me who have a hard time reaching out for help, just struggle in silence. Funny story is, as I was strolling through the gram recently, I ran across a meme that read “people who need help sometimes don’t look like people who need help” and I swear I had one of those “is that you Jesus” moments. I almost want to submit an edit and change it to, “they rarely look like people who need help” because I swear that’s me 95% of the time. And then there’s that 5% when I break and friends/family are looking at me like I’m Boo Boo the Fool (not exactly sure who this is but I know he looks crazy), because being weak and vulnerable just ain't who your girl Nakia portrays herself to be. So here it is, I am the “strong friend” that people need to check on and I’m asking for help!
Listen, your strong friends are tired and they need rest too, but they/we really have a hard time recognizing it, better yet communicating it. See here’s the problem, you typically don’t know something is wrong unless something is hurting; and that my friend is most likely when it’s too late. And people like this will lend themselves out until it's no more to give. Not too long ago, I had a break and I was legit Kerry Washington ugly crying, and my friend looked at me and said “Wow, Nakia I never knew you felt that way, I swear I think of you as if you’re like Superwoman” and I all I could say was I wish! Because if we are being honest we have been groomed since childhood to depend on our strong friends. Take for instance one of our childhood favorites “Toy Story” the song you’ve got a friend in me had us believing that's how it’s supposed to be “If you've got troubles, I've got 'em too. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you. We stick together and can see it through, ‘Cause you've got a friend in me’ . And now Buddy and Buzz got us taking on people’s problems while we over here struggling with both our problems and yours (it’s tew much).
And I’m nobody’s physicist or chemist , but one thing I know is that The Law of Conservation of Energy backs up this idea that energy is not lost, it's transferred, and now when your friends unload all their problems on you they become your problems and now you sitting there looking crazy in all of this mess, tragic I know. I get it, friends are supposed to be there to help you get through your tough times, your break-ups with your boyfriends, your annoying coworkers, and whatever else crisis of the week you come across, but we have to do a better job at handling our friends with care. Strong friends need that sticker from these shipping companies that read “handle with care” plastered on their foreheads. Because if we are being honest when you are going through it and you need someone to call and you want to reach out to that friend, your first thought is probably not, “I wonder what they have going on”, you just want to vent and get answers and you just start unloading. Let’s normalize asking people if they have the capacity to take on whatever problem you are dealing with!
Here’s the thing, what your friends don’t realize is them coming to you with their issues is just a quick fix, very different from the emotional healing and behavior changes that are arrived at through working with a professional counselor/therapist. And although we really love being there for our friends, we gotta set some boundaries and we also need to admit that when we are constantly coming to our friends with the same problem, the reality is we need to work through this with a licensed and reputable professional . And to be honest, your friends are definitely going to have a strong bias when they provide support and advice. First things first, no matter what anyone else says your friends have an opinion on how your life should be going and then there’s their own personal bias based on personal experiences, and both are going to affect their insight whether they like it or not. Friends are our comfort zones, they know us the best (or whatever version we present) but let’s be honest you are more likely going to be honest and lay it all out with someone who doesn't know you and doesn't care too much about that healthy picture of yourself that you are trying to portray. Do yourself and/or your “strong friend” a favor and look into working through some things with a therapist!
BGH Tip #7 If you are the “strong friend”, set boundaries for being people’s dumping ground for problems by communicating that you don’t have the capacity to take on their issues at the moment. Be patient and don’t expect change immediately, allow both you and your friends grace as you work through the changes.
Until next time take care of yourself, I love you and I mean it.