I have written before about being fortunate enough to have had five best friends in my life so far and I am grateful to each of them for the important role that they have played at the various stages of my life. Let me tell you what I expect from a friend :
- I expect loyalty, that they will be on my side, no matter what. I will do whatever I can to help my friends and I like to think that they will treat me the same way.
- I would like patience and understanding, given that for chunks of my life I withdraw when my mental health is poor. I expect my best friends to wait for me to return and not to pressure me too much when I am low
- I want them to enjoy my company, so that we can have fun together. But when we cannot be together – two of my best friends live in USA – I like to stay in touch by hand-written letter, WhatsApp and emails
- I want openness and honesty. I want to share details of my life with them and I hope that they will want to do the same. If I have upset my friend, then I need to know what I have done as it will not have been deliberate, so I will need to have the opportunity to put it right
- I prefer an equal friendship : sometimes I need to listen and other times, I need to do the talking.
But let me tell you also what I do not expect:
I do not expect my friends to welcome our son into their home and family, overnight, effectively putting their own lives on hold, when they work full-time, so the weekend is their only rest time. But that is what best friend 5 is doing this weekend. She saw that we were being left without respite and she stepped up to offer us an overnight stay, every month , until formal respite is sorted. That is going above and beyond what a friend does, even a best friend. I resisted for a while, feeling as though it was a huge imposition, but in the end she convinced me that the whole family, including the dog, enjoy Joshua’s company and so it was not so much of a chore as I thought. This weekend will be the third consecutive month that Joshua has slept in their family home and next month’s stay is already booked in too, allowing us to go to a concert without him in July.
So this weekend, my husband and I have come away for our own break; last night we had a delicious pub tea out, going at our own pace, not Joshua’s. We walked there and back and even took the dogs out for a bedtime walk while it was still light at 10pm – usually that is something that just one of us does, but it was a treat to go together. I have booked cinema tickets for tonight too, I cannot remember the last time that I went to the movies, so that is a real treat too as we both wanted to see the new Elvis film. And I hope that we will take a long country walk during the day today, unencumbered by a wheelchair. We will head home on Sunday morning, so that they still have some of their weekend to themselves and we will have some time with Joshua, before he heads back to daycare on Monday.
So thank you for being a great friend, we really appreciate what you are doing for us and I know that Joshua will be having fun with you all.