I don’t know about you, but my friendships have changed a bit in the past few months. Well, maybe not so much changed as been amplified. Those friendships that were loose and casual are even more casual. Close friendships are even closer. And those long-time, faraway friendships that slip in and out of our lives are slipping back in. The coronavirus crisis has made me want to check in on my friends more than ever.
The ways we connect with our friends are changing too. Zoom, Houseparty, and FaceTime have replaced coffee dates, happy hours, and long walks together. Conversations now focus less on complaints about the seemingly endless Little League baseball games to laments about the lack of Little League games (and graduations and proms and class trips). Every conversation feels so much more… significant somehow.
As with any crisis, there is a tendency for many of us to look for the silver lining. We want to find the bright spots, and then we want to share them with others. When everyone is struggling, we don’t want to exacerbate another’s pain or stress so some of us try to focus on “staying positive” and “making the best of things.”
These are admirable traits, of course. But sometimes, let’s face it, we need a bitch buddy, someone we can let it all hang out with. Someone we share our fears and complaints – not matter how petty or trivial – with. Someone who doesn’t mind our occasional Debbie Downer attitude. Someone who will let us wallow for a while.
Because this shit is hard. We are all mourning and grieving something. We’re scared and exhausted and anxious. Yes, we’re grateful for our health and our families and the comfort of our homes. But we’re struggling – maybe not in the same ways or to the same degree – but we’re all struggling. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m in the midst of a crisis, I don’t want to censor myself with my friends; I want to be able to be open and honest and real – and I want friends who understand this too.
So here’s to the friends who listen to us vent. To the friends who don’t say things like “at least you have …” and who don’t remind us that “things could be worse,” because we know things could always be worse. We are grateful for what we have, and we don’t need the reminder. We need friends who know that trite clichés will only add guilt onto our already heavy mind.
Here’s to the friends who let us bitch about our gray roots and our loud-ass kids and our cancelled vacation plans. We know these things are trivial and petty complaints. We know there are bigger problems. But we need friends who don’t remind us of this, but let us whine about the endless stream of dirty dishes and the way our spouse chews because they know that deep down we are grateful for the dishes and the spouse.
Here’s to the friends who give us permission to be sad and angry and grief-stricken over the things we’ve lost of the past few months, even if the losses are as basic as the loss of normalcy and sense of wellbeing. Here’s to the friends who remind us that they are a safe space for our emotions and woes, that we don’t have to edit our feelings when we talk.
And here’s to the friends who let us know that it’s okay to vent and cry and complain to them because they vent and cry and complain to us. To the friends who trust us with the feelings they feel guilty or embarrassed about, the friends who know that emotions are often illogical and irrational, the friends who let us bring our whole selves to the friendship by bringing their whole selves.
We’re in crisis mode right now, and in a crisis, we need “our people” more than ever. We need the friends who will remind us that we’ll get through this crisis. We need the friends who will lift our spirits with a funny meme or a ridiculous video. And we need our friends who love us when we’re struggling and not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet. Because in their being there for us, they are the light at the end of the tunnel.