When life gets difficult we sometimes push the people that we love away. I’m not sure why we do it. Whether it’s an attempt to pretend we’re okay, or to keep people at a distance when we’re feeling vulnerable. If not, perhaps it’s because we just don’t feel like we’ll be good company, don’t want to cause a fuss or need to cuccoon ourselves within a duvet, and cuccoons aren’t as efficient with a partner. For whatever reason we do it, it seems to be a human instinct to distance ourselves from others when we’re struggling with life.
This can make it hard for those around us to show love. When we feel pushed away it’s only natural that we back off, if they say that’s what they want it makes sense that we do it because we love them. While sometimes this is a good thing, it can mean that people end up feeling isolated and there are ways to show them how you feel despite their desire to be alone. The first of these is really easy to do, simply sending a text or giving a call to tell them you’re there when they change their mind is important. It lets them know that once they’re feeling up to company you’re available, it lets them know that the door isn’t closed. It lets them know that you care.
If someone doesn’t want to chat you can always offer alternatives. Rather than talking perhaps they’d like to watch a movie and eat junk food – I know that’s always a good option for me. Otherwise there are board games, video games, reading a book side-by-side. There are no end of options where you can spend time with people without talking to them. These moments can build a bond between you, you’ll each know that you went through the struggle together, even if you didn’t feel up to talking about it.
Another alternative is helping them with whatever they need. If they’re feeling unable to leave the house perhaps they could do with someone to collect groceries (or even some sweet treats). I’ve lost track of the number of times where I’ve been too ill to go out, and friends have dropped off chocolates, crisps, tea-bags, even cigarettes although they’re often less willing with that one. It’s a great help as it lessens the worries in our head and has the added advantage of forcing us to see someone, even if they do only stay long enough to hand over a bag of goodies.
Sometimes it’s good to push a little, when in the depths of struggles it can be hard for people to know what is really good for them. For example, when I’m at my worst I could hide in my room for days only emerging for a cup of tea if I got really desperate. I won’t cook, step outside of my front door or respond to most messages I receive. However, this isn’t actually very good for me. If I do this I end up feeling worse. It can be really helpful for friends to encourage me out of the house and come with me, or even come over to bring me downstairs or into the garden for a chat.
In the event that someone does want to talk about what they’re fighting through, be there. Listen to them and take note of what they’re saying. Never judge them or allow them to think that their troubles are not worth being upset over. Allow them to take their anger or hurt out on you a little bit, it can be good for them and they’ll really know that you love them. Don’t try to fix their problems, but be there for them to talk to and give advice if they ask for it. If you’d like to read more, click here.
I know this was a pretty concise guide, and that’s probably because I’m definitely no expert. But what I do know is that it’s important for people to know that struggling with life or illness does not make them any less precious to you. It’s vital for them to know that you love them, that you’ll be there for them whenever they need you. If you deal with tough times in this way, rather than pushing you apart, they can push you together. They can create a bond between you that makes them a valuable experience, however horrible they may be at the time.
If you’re finding life really hard at the moment please contact the Samaritans, or your local GP or crisis team! You’re not alone, no matter how much it may feel that way.