To The Friends Who Save Us

by Ashley Gold
Originally Published: 

Twice this week I was saved by friends who were strong enough to guide me through terrain that I simply could not navigate alone. Once by a friend who literally helped me navigate a ski trail (with my kids in tow) that I had no businesses being on, and again by a friend who helped me navigate my way out of a relationship that had become so toxic, I could no longer see myself.

With two ski lessons in two years and a decent sense of balance under my belt, I decided I could take my two children (who had a fair amount of ski school experience) up on a real ski lift, on a real mountain, to ski down a real trail. It took about three minutes of sliding down the icy slope to realize I’d made a huge mistake—I was not experienced enough to ski that trail with two kids—and I could not get us down alone.

Then a friend swooped down the slope, in the nick of time. She reached out a hand to help us stand (ski?) tall and guided us down the parts of the trail that were the least perilous, waited patiently for us to figure out how to make our own turns and stops. And just her presence, her positivity and confidence, gave all three of us the confidence to get down the mountain.

We made it down, relief and accomplishment, adrenaline and euphoria flooding our senses. The kids said they’d had the best time ever, that the run down the mountain was the most fun they’d had. That friend saved us—saved me. Because maybe we would have gotten down the mountain safely, without any broken bones, but maybe the kids would have lost the confidence they’d worked so hard to build in ski school, maybe they would have stopped seeing the joy in the sport they were learning and at which they were excelling, or, in a worst case scenario, maybe our happy ending wouldn’t have been as happy.

All I know is that I could not have done it alone, and I didn’t have to. My friend saved us—led us down the mountain, helped us through the snowdrifts and down the steep terrain—when I needed that help the most. When I simply couldn’t do it myself.

Just a few days later, I was saved again, this time while with another friend and discussing how best to move forward in a relationship that was plagued by arguments that left me emotionally drained and conversations that left me questioning my reality. She pushed away the weight of her own day to put a hand on my wrist and guide me through a frighteningly dense fog of uncertainty.

She said, if you really believe what you are saying, if this is really how you feel about yourself and you’re this confused about your truth, you need to listen to my truth, and trust my reality, trust that I know you and want what’s best for you. And you need to walk away before you lose yourself any more, before you lose yourself completely. I told her I couldn’t do it alone; I just wasn’t strong enough to pull myself out. She lent me her strength and waited patiently for me to figure out how to make my own turns and stops.

She stood by my side as I said the words that needed to be said, that I had been afraid to say to the person I was afraid to say them to. And just her presence, her positivity and confidence kept me grounded as I fought the self-doubt that had kept me in a situation that was becoming increasingly troubling. She gave me truth and saw me when I could no longer see myself; she saved me in that moment when I so desperately needed saving, when I absolutely could not save myself.

Friendships are give and take, and this week I have taken more than I’ve given. I have been saved in all the ways that matter: physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I have been saved because those friends that saved me reminded me that I am worth saving. So, to those friends from whom I’ve taken, I want to give these words:

To those friends—I hope I never have to return the favor. I hope you never find yourself in a position where you cannot figure out how to navigate your trail, a place in which your truth and feelings are so turned around you no longer recognize the thoughts churning in your mind. I hope I never have to return the favor, but if ever the situation arises when you need that kind of help, I will be there with a hand and a smile and a truth that will bring you back to safety.

To those friends—I want you to know that the courage it takes to lead the way is remarkable and doesn’t go unnoticed. The strength that it takes to reach out a hand, when doing so might throw you off-balance, isn’t unappreciated. And the love that is being shared will be endlessly repaid.

And to those friends who have given so much this week—those and the many others who have so often stepped in and stepped up without being asked—who have saved me in ways they may never know, without asking for anything in return, I want to say thank you, even though a simple thank you is not enough, and will never be enough.

Twice this week I needed saving. Twice this week I was saved. And for that, I will always be grateful.

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