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You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

The past year and a half have been filled with many highs and lows as I shared in my previous post “Ebbs, Flows, High, Lows.” I’ve shared these moments with people that are closest to me. What I sometimes failed to realize is that when I share these moments, I take my friends through the same emotional roller coaster that I am experiencing. A good friend will always be there through these moments, right? Wrong! The reality is that these people have their own lives and are going through their own daily battles. They don’t always have the capacity to deal with your shit (good or bad).

I’ve been on both sides of this scenario. I have been the strong friend that carried the emotional baggage of my friends. By doing this, I neglected myself to the point I no longer had the ability to be the selfless friend that I’m known to be. In true Pisces fashion, I would disappear to rejuvenate, which left my friends feeling neglected by me. I’ve also felt alone because my friends had things going on and I didn’t feel like weighing them down with my problems. In some cases, I wanted to weigh them down, but they were physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually unavailable.

How should friends handle these situations?

  • Be Blunt: Stop your friend mid-sentence and say, “Hey I love you, but don’t have energy for this right now.” We could argue that this is a self-care technique, but it seems a bit insensitive. I don’t think I’m built to be this blunt.

  • Avoidance: Ignoring phone calls and text messages is just a way of avoidance, which can lead to miscommunication and misinterpretation of actions. Although I’m guilty of letting my phone ring until it goes to voicemail (because I don’t want them to feel I am really ignoring the call by hitting decline), I do not suggest using this technique.

  • Be a responsible friend/Ask for permission: Before unpacking on your friend, ask them how they are doing? Ask them how their day was and if they have the capacity to deal with your shit. I didn’t come up with this on my own, but after seeing a post about a person who does this with their friends, I decided to adopt it.

One day before unpacking on my sister, I asked her, “hey do you have the energy to deal with me venting.” After giving her that consideration, she has also adopted it and asks me the same question before dumping. It has made our relationship that much stronger.

On another occasion, I called my line sister really needing to vent, but I started the conversation with, “Hey, how’s the most beautiful woman in the world doing?” She replied with a giggle saying, “I needed that, I just stepped in a puddle and was pissed off.” Imagine me calling and dumping on her in that moment. I could have unknowingly added to her stress levels.

Here’s a fact that will remain true, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Your friends cannot give you something they don’t have. Their inability to support you in “a moment” should not dictate their love for you (if they are never there for you that’s a different thing to consider). Some people may argue that communication is key, and I agree, but real and healthy friendships are 2-way streets. Moral of this post is “if you want to have a good, considerate, supportive friend; be the good, considerate, supportive friend.” I hope you all continue this year with positive energy all around you.


Khilia Chantal

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