I have a friend - an old friend that has been with me since I was a teenager. This friend has always been with me through the worst times of my life. The times when I have been down and depressed and life seemed to be at it’s lowest.
I knew he was a friend because he was always there, just like good friends are supposed to be when life is unbearable. When times were good and I was on a high and on that whirlwind of energy and excitement, he dropped into the background knowing that he would be needed later when I came down again.
He was there when I was terrified of my Dad when he was shouting at me for not doing well enough at school, when I reluctantly handed over my school report cards knowing what the result would be.
He was there whenever I was compared to my younger brother, who was a great soccer player and I preferred other more quiet activities. He was there when I took part in a State Judo Championship and my parents weren’t able to come because my Dad had to watch my brother in a soccer match at the same time.
When I woke up in my flat on numerous occasions not knowing how I got there or what I had done after a night drinking – he was there.
I know he was a friend because he met all the criteria of friendship – he was always there when times were rough, he never needed to be asked – he just came. He never argued with me, he just offered the thoughts and words that I needed. How many loyal friends are like that?
My friend just seemed to know me just like a very close brother and have just the things to offer at the time.
Here are some other times when he was there and you will see what a friend that he was!
The times when I was chasing other women even though I was married – he was there.
The times that I drank morning noon and night – he was there when I briefly sobered up.
The times that I realised what a despicable person I was – he was there.
The times when I shouted at my wife and kids and made their lives a misery – yes he was there!
When my wife had reached the point of not being able to stand any more of my behaviour and was about to leave with our kids – he was there with the words and advice and thoughts about the matter.
And when I reached the lowest point of my life, when there seemed to be absolutely no way out. Life itself was unbearable and needed to end. He was there. Oh yes, he was there!
You see, I now know my friend just as well as he knew me. The one that I thought was my friend, the one that I had always known to be there, wasn’t really my friend.
He was the most destructive element of my life. You see my friend is called Guilt – not the normal recognition of making a mistake that is healthy, but the corrosive, all consuming irrational feeling that convinces us that it is always our fault. That we are worthless and deserving of nothing. That we are beneath contempt, and not fit for the company of normal people.
And ultimately, that the only way out is death, so that we are no longer a burden to anyone.
I recognise who my friend really is now, through working with my psychiatrist and the medications. He doesn’t call as much these days as he used to and doesn’t stay long because I know how to combat his workings.
I really don’t miss my friend at all you know – even though we were together for a long time. Perhaps you have a ‘friend’ just like mine who it is time to say good bye to and get on with the better things in our lives.
13 May 2003
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