I lay in bed, trying to go to sleep, but my mind was moving too fast. I shifted positions, hoping that partially burying my face in the pillow might suffocate the thoughts out of me. I was frustrated and pissed off, but I had no one that I could vent to. Earlier that night I had been speaking to the four people I considered my best friends via group chat. Yet I could say nothing to them about my emotional state. I couldn’t tell them about the things that we’re eating away at my happiness. That would require me to share secrets that I’d worked meticulously to keep from them for years.
Friends. Everyone has them, right? People we hang out with, grow up with, vent to and lend shoulders to cry on. Yet, so many of us will keep pieces of our existence carefully tucked away from the people we claim to be closest to. That night, as I lay in my bed unable to sleep from the troubles that plagued me, I realized that I had no real friends. Those four people who I’d claimed for over a decade to be my best friends weren’t even my real friends. This wasn’t due to any wrongdoing on their part; this was solely a product of my own fear. How can you call someone a friend when you don’t even trust them with the ugly parts of yourself? If you can’t trust someone to love you above and beyond your shortcomings and nasty bits, then how can you call yourself a friend? You haven’t given them the opportunity to truly be a confidant, so how can you truly call them friend? I realized I’d been going through these past few years of life with mere husks of friendships that I’d been letting die slowly because I hadn’t been feeding the souls of my friendships. These people didn’t even know who I was.
Tears began to fall as I realized the position I’d found myself in. I was miserable. And yet, I couldn’t warm myself in the comfort of my friends’ love because I had never trusted them enough to truly love me. I felt lost and more alone than I’d ever known. I immersed myself in the stench of my own regret and self-pity. “Yeah look at you now. You got it all together right? They think you’re so great, but little do they know that you’re a mess! You have no one to turn to. And it’s all your fault!” I bit back a sob that threatened to break what was left of me. Then a fleeting thought came to me. What if I was to just tell them everything? I could just shatter the glass figurine I’d allowed to represent me and pray that they are the best friends that I’ve always called them. I began to type out a message to them all because I knew that if I didn’t seize this courage that my wild-eyed misery had afforded me, I would never see it again.
Making the decision to reveal secrets is a tremendous one. Some secrets are so riddled with thorns and spikes that the thought of sharing them with anyone is crippling. I had the good fortune of my secrets all concerning me and not directly affecting any of my friends, but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. And it all stems from fear. “What if they don’t accept me anymore? What if they’re angry that I’ve kept this from them? What if I lose the friendship I have with them, as incomplete as it may be?”
Many of us work harder to keep our secrets from our friends than we do on the friendship itself. We’ll tailor our Facebook statuses and debate about which pictures can go up on Instagram. We’ll try to keep tabs of what we’ve told them so we don’t slip up and reveal too much. We’ll want advice on a huge decision, but have to decide whether or not it’s worth giving up the secret. It’s so much effort–and for what?
For me, I knew that if I didn’t talk to my friends and let them see the real me, I would die a slow death emotionally. I made the choice that night that I’d rather have complete friendship or I’d have to find new friends. I had been choosing misery over courage, and I could no longer carry that burden. You have to realize that you’re worth having people love ALL of you. Even the spaces that you try your hardest to forget about yourself.
I began to type: “I love you guys so much. I thank God so much for putting you all in my life…I’ve been a bad friend to you all. I’ve been a bad friend because I haven’t trusted you. I haven’t trusted you to love me…” I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. Adrenaline raced through my body as I tried to anticipate my friend’s responses. When I woke up for work the next morning, everything was numb. I went through the motions in a haze, waiting to see what my friends would say. When the first response came in, I almost cried with relief. My friend not only told me that she loved me despite everything, but apologized for anything she might have done to make me feel as though I couldn’t share those things with her before. As the other responses came in, they were all in that same vein. I felt lighter than I had in years.
Real friends are hard to come by. People who will accept you for everything that you are should be cherished. That can’t happen unless you’re being fully honest. When you keep things from your friends, you’re building a relationship on shaky ground. I’m not advocating for you all to go out and have confessional with your friends today. You don’t have to share every detail of your life with people. What I am saying is that if there are pieces of your soul that you’ve kept hidden from your friends, you may have to reevaluate that title. Friendship is a form of love and love cannot exist without truth. Share your truth and find real love among true friends.