February 18, 2017
By: Nasreen Gulamhusein
An excerpt from the poem Friendship by David Whyte says: “…the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”
This beautiful writing by David Whyte reminded me of a day when I reached out to my good friend Olivia for support. I wanted to connect so I didn’t have to be alone in my struggle. At the end of our phone call she texted me and said: “thanks for letting me be there for you.” Her words touched me deeply – and made me realize something important about giving and receiving emotional support in friendship.
Reaching out for support is a gift. It is the gift of allowing someone to extend a helping hand. It is the gift of allowing someone to love you when you need it the most.
Reaching out for support takes courage. Shame and embarrassment can often scare away the part of you that wants to reach out. That voice might say: “I don’t want to be a burden” or “I don’t want to be seen as weak or messy” or “This is no big deal. I’ll just do this on my own.” When that whisper arrives just remember, asking for support is just as important as giving it. By pushing through your tough moment on your own, you might be denying someone the awesome gift of loving you.
I am grateful for the depth of friendships I have in my life. Friendships that remind me of these further words in David Whyte’s poem: “A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs…” On that particular day I was grateful for Olivia being there for me, and giving me a new perspective.