Last night I was out at dinner with friends, not just friends, but the amazing, supportive women who hold me up when I am too tired to get up and try again. The year I left my abusive husband, my youngest son was also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My life was in such a fog, I never thought I could find my way through it. For the first week of my separation, my husband was unaccounted for. He told me he flew to a job site in Colorado, but his work said he took an extra week of vacation to spend with his family. As I tried to get a protection order, I was terrified he would appear and try to kill me or one of my kids; I would nap during the day, while my teenagers were awake, and then at night, I had moved a mattress into our living room, so my kids could sleep on it, and I would sit on the couch watching over them all night with a butcher knife under my pillow. For months, I was out of my mind and the only thing I could focus on was our survival. It has been six and half years since those events, and I am a different, stronger person now, but those nights all came flooding back last night at dinner.
A close friend is going through her own divorce hell right now. It has similar characteristics of mine. I found myself advising her, bluntly advising her. I was sharing what she could expect her first day in court. I wanted to prepare her for anything that may be thrown her way. Before we could finish, she ran out in tears. I felt ill inside. It made me think about whose truth was I telling? I think we are all guilty of that. We see our friend in pain – a pain that is similar to something we experienced – and we want to spare our friend that pain. Maybe we can a little, but sometimes they may have to go through some of that pain to come out stronger on the other end as well.
I found myself up half the night asking myself just that; is it possible to be too honest? Throughout my life, right after someone has just served me up a huge dose of reality, they end the conversation curtly with “I was just being honest.” Those words cut through me like a knife. Really? Just being honest? When we hear those words, do we ever stop and ask whose definition of honest are we using, and do we give power to that person that their definition is the correct one? As women, when some well intended friend or family member is advising us on our life, we need to stop and thank them for how much they care about us, but inside we need to question where their well advised words are coming from. Are they projecting their own baggage on us or do they really know what’s best for us? I think only WE know what’s best for us. Don’t get me wrong, I live for my group of supportive women, but what I love most about them is if I ask for advice, they give it, but they give it with no intentions for their outcome, but instead for me to figure out what I need to use and what I will toss aside. They trust that I know what’s best for my family and me.
So it’s less about being too honest and more about giving your opinion and advice, and letting it go, and supporting your friend no matter how they choose to take the advice. We are all at different stages in our life, and we can’t expect our friends to be in the same place. What we can do is to hold their hand and remind them of all the reasons we love them. If they need more, they will ask.