The STRONG friend is the one who is resilient, tough and seemingly unbothered. The one who holds you together and everyone else too. The one who overcomes evil with love and turmoil with defeat. The one who has a heart that forgives and is always focused on the problems and issues of life, endured by those around them. The strong friend is the one who has the guts to stand their ground. The one Who loves and loves hard, and isn’t afraid of doing so again, after being hurt a time or two. The one who is quick to walk away from unhealthy situations and quick to speak up when it comes to injustice, unfair treatment or just plain out foolery. They don’t settle for less than they deserve and they do everything in their power to make sure you don’t either. The strong friend is the one we openly and sometimes secretly admire. The one we sometimes wish we could be more like. The one who carries the weight of the world on their back and without hesitation steps up to be the GOAT (Greatest of all times).
…But what happens when your strong friend burns out after months of emptying their cup to fill yours, and never being poured into or refilled? What happens when the strong friend becomes exhausted from being strong? What happens when the strong friend suffers in silence and develops a mental health issue as a result of being the strong friend?
Life is rough and everyone needs someone willing to and able to pour into them. Yes, even the strong friend. Unlike previous blogs, this blog is a call to action. This blog is a charge for you to, even if only for a moment, step outside of your small problematic world and actually care about your strong friend. Your strong friend is human too. At the end of the day, they go home and have to look themselves in the mirror and deal with life issues, insecurities and stress, just like you. Here are some things you may or may not know about your strong friend.
- Your strong friend has been hurt more times than they can count, by people they loved and trusted the most. That hurt built their strength.
- Your strong friend is motivated by your dependence upon them. This may or may not be a healthy motivation.
- Your strong friend has days when they really just want someone to come along and tell them it’s okay to not be strong.
- Your strong friend has feelings too.
- Your strong friend masks a lot of their hurt and pain in order to be effective in helping you.
- Because your strong friend is seen as the strong friend, they do everything within their power to try and keep their cups filled and to help you from their overflow. Unfortunately, there is only so much self-care, a therapist and prayer can do, when we were created to be in relationship. (In a nutshell, your strong friend needs reciprocal relationships, starting with you)!
- Your strong friend often cries themselves to sleep, because they are tired of not having their own strong friend.
The point is, that we become so selfish in failing to realize that the very people who are there for us and seek to help us through, need us to help them too. Relationships and friendships should not be one sided. While your strong friend is suffering in silence, they cover it up by keeping the focus on you and your problems. So this is what you do…
- Pray for your strong friend – because they have become so used to suffering in silence, they may not be open to the level of vulnerability it takes to share their problems with someone else.
- Let your strong friend know that it’s okay to not always be strong and that you are there for them, to listen, talk or just be a presence during tough times.
- Encourage the people around you to also check on their strong friends, because in a world that encourages so much self-centeredness, its a large chance that you are not the only one who needs to do better by their strong friend.
Dealing with mental health issues is hard. Your strong friend may be dealing with some issues that you don’t even know about. While the struggle is definitely sometimes real… your reality and your strong friend’s reality can be Healthy, Whole and Highly Functioning. The goal is to overcome every Mental Encounter, and to help others do the same!