We live in an era of instant communication. We slide into people’s inboxes, and DM’s with commonplace ease, and expect an immediate answer. We don’t leave voicemails anymore so that we can patiently wait for the ones we care about to return our call; instead, we send a text message, expecting them to answer our questions or our concerns right away.
It can be exhausting, feeding this insatiable need for instant communication. It gets even more tiring when you feel as though you have nothing to give to the friends you love when they need an answer, too.
But you can still be there for your friends when you’re feeling emotionally exhausted. You can still show up in ways that let them know that you’re always their friend:
Communicate with honesty
Tell them that you love them. Tell them that they mean the world to you. Tell them that they are an essential human being in your life. Tell them that you always want the best for them. Then tell them that you’re tired and you don’t have the brain space to chat at the moment and that your inability to talk with them doesn’t reflect a lack of love or care for them, it just means you’re trying to keep your own head above water at the moment. And you cannot give to them if you cannot float yourself.
Acknowledge their pain and frustration
Maybe you don’t have the energy to have a four-hour conversation about their broken heart, or their depression, or their anxiety, or their overwhelming sadness. And it’s not because you don’t want to be there for them, it’s because you have to take care of your own brain and your own heart at the moment. So perhaps it could be useful to acknowledge their pain and their struggle. That doesn’t mean that you have to enter into that epic conversation; it just means you’re letting them know that you see them. Sometimes the most significant thing people need, or what they’re seeking, is acknowledgment. They want to be heard, they want to be loved, and they want to be seen.
Send a card
Yes, a card. Maybe you’re going through your own struggles at the moments, and you cannot fathom having in-depth conversations with the friends that you love – whether it be in person, on the phone, or even a text message thread. Maybe that instant communication is too much for your heart, and you know what? That’s ok. But it doesn’t mean that you still cannot reach out and tell the ones you love that you’re thinking about them in their own times of stress and their individual seasons of grief. Write down your words of support, and love, and gratitude for them in a card, and then mail that baby, snail mail style.
Make a plan to meet at a later date
After you’ve communicated with honesty, and acknowledged their pain and frustration, and even sent a card, pick a time to meet when you’re not so exhausted. Maybe it’s a day or two in the future. Perhaps it’s a week from now, or maybe it’s a whole month. But sometimes it’s easier to mentally prepare for people and social commitments and showing up for your friends when you have a bit of time to refill your own well of spirit.