“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Friendships are funny, aren’t they? Have you ever thought about the friends you have and why you have them? Sometimes it’s because they are just fun to be around or because you can go deep with them. Some challenge you, which you love and hate, and others just get you; you’re comfortable with them and are willing to be completely vulnerable. Whatever the case, they’re your friends. Your ride or die. I’m all in when it comes to my friends, or at least so I thought.
I am fiercely loyal to my friends. But that loyalty has been conditional. The condition is: I can care about you but you don’t get to care about me. I know, stupid and kind of a slap in the face to a friend, right? Well, this is me being completely honest with you. I always figured that as long as I made sure I made things about them, then there wasn’t a risk of them thinking I wasn’t a good friend. Or even scarier, there wasn’t the risk they would actually get to know me and find I wasn’t worth the time. I wanted them to be satisfied with the fact I was a good friend and reliable. It was okay if they didn’t really know me. But, that’s not realistic, is it?
“I have no notion of loving people by halves…” I say I love fully but if there is no element of me beyond the giving, then I’m only loving people by halves, aren’t I? Like friendships, love is a two-way street. You can love a person but unless you allow them to love you, you’re not loving them fully. How can I explain this…you know the whole five love languages thing? I’m not actually a fan beyond it being used as a tool. Anyway, my mother-in-law is a very affectionate person. She expresses love by hugs and tender touch. Me, on the other hand, I hate being touched. There are very few people who I am affectionate with and whose touch I welcome. It may not be my nature to be affectionate but it is my mother-in-law’s and I know that loving her means putting myself aside so that she can give me the random hugs. I could just be incredibly annoyed and push that I show I care by spending time with her or doing something for her but that’s not fully loving her. If I’m going to fully love her, I have to let her express how she loves people. Does that make sense?
I haven’t allowed myself to fully love, probably ever. Yes, even with my husband, probably especially with him. I do everything I can to make sure he’s happy and able to fully pursue his dreams that I don’t let him give a second thought about me (he does anyway). But, that’s loving by half now, isn’t it? Love can be scary. But, it can also heal, bring joy, and be comforting. It has taken years before I’ve really recognized this about myself and have confronted it. It’s not easy! But I want to be able to truly say “I’m all in” when it comes to my friends. I want to love wholly and this is the first step.