Whenever a person has an ongoing issue in their life, interpersonal relationships are always a double edged sword. Letting it all out bothers the hell out of people of it happens “too much,” (how much is too much?), but not discussing it will deem you untrustworthy and secretive. Even worse, people may take it personally and think that you don’t trust them.
When people interact with me, they want to see the butterflies and rainbows, but not the sharks and the thunderstorms. They want me, but not my baggage. I don’t think the problem is them not wanting to hear about it. Rather, I just think they wish I wasn’t dealing with all of the crap that I have on my plate. It makes them uncomfortable because they don’t know how to respond, and it’s annoying because they’re put in that same uncomfortable position every time I vent.
Of course, how I think about it from a logical perspective is not how I react to it emotionally. It’s hurtful to hear, “yes, Bri, we get it,” or “I have enough problems of my own; I don’t need to hear yours, too.” When I hear that, it sounds like people just don’t care. Sometimes, people truly don’t care. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I suppose only your friends and family know whether or not they truly care about you.
When you decide to develop any kind of close relationship with a person, you are developing a relationship with the whole person. You cannot simply be there during the good times, shut your doors during the bad times, and still say that you’re “always there.” If coming up with responses to your friends’ personal struggles is stressful, that’s understandable. There’s only so much people can handle. An important thing to remember is that sometimes, people who vent don’t need a response. A simple hug or, “I’m really sorry to hear that, want me to get your mind off of it?” is perfectly fine. Don’t worry about formulating the perfect response. The important part is letting a person know that you’ll be there for them no matter what they have to deal with. Nobody should have to sacrifice their own well being to be there for someone else. Know what your limits are, but there are ways to show how much you care without compromising your own sanity.
You’ll be able to find your own ways to be supportive, assuming you actually care about the person. Some people truly don’t care about whether or not a person is happy, as long as they don’t have to hear about it. If you’re only there for the good times, please do that person a favor and stop pretending you care about them. Being close to a person with struggles may not always be a fun time, but if a person is afraid to show themselves to you when they’re not at their best, then you’re not supporting them. Don’t give people any more reasons to keep their feelings bottled up. Wanting to only be around “positive vibes” is simply dismissing your friends and family during their down times. It’s awesome if you can emit positive energy, but please understand that not everyone can do that all the time. Use your desire for positivity to help someone out, not to cut people off.
Some people’s lives are filled with sunshine with a few clouds peeping through. Other people pray to see the sunlight that’s buried beneath their dark grey clouds. A supportive person doesn’t need to clear away the clouds, but they can offer an umbrella for when it rains.