Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Friendship – Check Please

I want to talk about friendship and when you allow the boundaries to be overstepped, in the sake of friendship, how many times, before it all becomes too far?

I’m a good friend, I build people up, I see their insecurities and I use that to encourage them. I guess lately because of my state of Mental Health I’ve expected the same back from my friends, however the reason why my circle of friends has diminished is because I haven’t gotten this back.

One of my best friends came over to my place last weekend, it was the first time we’d seen each other in about a year but we speak on the phone almost every weekend. I was extremely excited, I cleaned the flat and I cooked. When she came, my partner and I showed her around as it was the first time she’d seen the flat.

She spent a lot of time on her phone, but I also still had to finish up dinner…

She didn’t show as much enthusiasm for my Wall of Black Magic (my pride and joy), as I thought she would. But then, you can’t expect everybody to share your passions…

Wall of Black Magic

She made inferences about my not being “woke” enough and she’s always done this, because I’ve always had interracial relationships, however now it was really starting to touch a nerve, because of everything I’m doing on social media to raise awareness for Black Mental Health.

There were also inferences like, because I don’t wrap my hair at night, while watching “Girls’ Trip”, I’m therefore not properly Black. Perhaps it was a joke, but because of everything else that had happened, I didn’t find it funny, because taking 14 pills a day leaves me too exhausted to know my own name, let alone remember to wrap my fucking hair every night.

Which brings me to the real dagger of the event: we were discussing my plans for once I finish my MSc in two or three years time. Currently, my partner and I are discussing the option of my working part-time as a therapist with ethnic minorities, while also pursuing the option of working in Cultural Psychological Research part-time, perhaps a part-time PhD.

My friend felt that because of my health issues, I shouldn’t have contact with people and that perhaps, advocacy would be the best option for now. Not two or three years from now. Now.

I challenged her about this, by saying that we don’t have enough people of colour in therapy, plus we’re not talking about now, but two or three years time, however she still disagreed. I also challenged her by saying that research is incredibly stressful, especially for people with mental health issues – my other friend is doing a PhD and her supervisor is unforgiving, plus just look at the challenges I’m facing with research at MSc level.

But then I’m crazy, what do I know? And too disabled.

I messaged her about it the next day and she backtracked, saying that she claimed that she thought we were talking about my plans for now.

But you asked the question: what are my plans for after?

She still stood by her opinion however, and although I don’t have to take her opinion (which I told her that I won’t), she only wants the best for me.

My theory is that she also wants to be a therapist, sometime in the future, therefore why not have people like me do all of the hard work in the field of research so that she doesn’t have to.

So it was a disappointing day, even little things: to not have seen a friend in a year and not compliment them on their appearance? And I know that I have to check myself here, because I waste way too much mental energy on shit like this, analysing the absence of compliments, ESPECIALLY when I have a partner who tells me how fucking hot I am every day!

And I don’t build my friends up to get something in return… I’m not building savings accounts to dip into whenever I need them 🤔 but the lack of validation from childhood still runs deep and my close friends know this. And with the absence of therapy/ access to therapy, Women of Colour need their friends to build them up.

For example, my weave is just one of the things that makes me feel more Black, so a compliment from my closest Black friend about my hair would’ve validated my Blackness.

Or at least given me some confidence, which I really need right now, which embarrasses me to admit…

Instead, although she ate the chicken I cooked for her, she picked at my rice and peas and made constant inferences on my “woke-ness”.

Now I just feel deflated.

There is a proverb about friendship:

“One finger cannot hold up a thing”

which illustrates the need for others in our lives. Relationships can be communal or exchange; communal relationships benefit the well-being of the people within the relationship, like a community; exchange relationships are where people give benefits with the benefit that they will receive comparable benefits in return.

While writing this post, I also spoke to another friend who said that sometimes you just have to shut the door and keep the world on the outside of that door, with you and your partner alone on the inside. Close friendships are great, but there’s nothing like a great partnership and it’s you two against the rest of the world.

XOXO

Author:

I’m Cece Alexandra and I have Epilepsy. Since being diagnosed, my life has changed significantly. After studying and teaching Humanities and Literature for all of my adult life, I was bullied and lost my job a month before qualifying to become an English Teacher. Once you fail the Teacher Training course in England, you cannot ever retrain; I then became too sick to work because of my Epilepsy. I am now currently studying an MSc in Mental Health Psychology with the University of Liverpool. My disability provokes me into raising awareness for invisible disabilities, which I also actively partake in with Epilepsy Action. Part of that awareness is to help fight against invisible disability discrimination - I believe that this behaviour is not cognitively unconscious; modern society is actively partaking in a hierarchy of disabilities and I believe that there is not enough psychological research to prove this. I am also clinically interested in Cultural Psychology - particularly Collectivist Culture, and wish to pursue this further in my academic career.

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