Philophobia: Do You Have It?

If I had to say one thing about my friends, I would definitely consider them to be my chosen family. When I bring someone into my life -- or better yet -- when someone chooses to spend their time with me, I never take it for granted. Just like a relationship, I always try to seek out a lifetime friend. Of course you're either going to get 'for a reason, a season or a lifetime' -- and that's okay. People that come into our lives are meant to either teach us a lesson, to help us in times of trouble or to simply make you laugh and smile for however long. And as we grow older, that whole "BFF" thing sort of takes a left turn to Albuquerque. It's okay to have that once a month friend (and no I'm not referring to Flo), and it's okay to pick up where you left off after 6 months of not seeing one another. I have friends that I haven't seen in almost a year, where I can talk to them this very minute and it feels like just yesterday. That's what I call a bond. As of lately, I have been very close with quite a few people in my life. My friends know they can come and talk to me without any judgment, and I know I can do the same.

Respecting boundaries is very important in a friendship. When someone says, "I'm always here for you," -- to me that says, "Yes, I will help you when you need me," but at the same time, people have to realize that there are circumstances when you just cannot be to their avail 24/7. We try, but some things in life occasionally takes center stage. This is what any friend has to accept. This is also important in a relationship or marriage. Respecting boundaries is very important. I had an old friend who had texted me out of the blue after a few months of not speaking, asking me to call her right away. Madelene and I were sitting at the diner having breakfast. It was our first day off in a very long time. I texted her back, "Can I call you later, I'm in a diner having breakfast. Are you okay?"

I got the big caps that said, "I DON'T KNOW IF I'M OKAY BECAUSE YOU WON'T TALK TO ME!" Although this is a common occurrence with her (she always has an emergency that isn't really an emergency), 95% of the time I am always there for her.

I don't subscribe to psychotic issues, because I have enough of my own to deal with. This is why I have a therapist. I texted her back. I basically told her that I am in no mood for guilt trips and if she cannot wait until later to talk, then to contact someone else who is closer to her. Was I being insensitive or just being respectful of Madelene's time? So now, the phone gets put away (as it should have been) and when I am in anybody's company, I will not answer any texts ever again. I will keep my phone on vibrate in case there is an emergency. But that just got my blood boiling and I thought to myself -- you can't expect someone to just drop everything and come to your rescue -- especially if you're 1,000 miles away. If I needed to speak to vent to one of my friends and he or she was not available, I would totally understand. It's called life. I'm sure they'll return my call if they know I'm in need. I don't have to piss them off just because they're busy doing something else.

Which brings me to my next topic: it's a two way street. "How are YOU?" I sincerely want to know. I want honesty and your ability to trust me. I also like the "how are you" back. And hopefully I won't chew your ear off. Friendship can be therapeutic in many ways. This is another reason why I am so picky with choosing a therapist. Since I have anxiety disorder, I need my therapist to be compassionate, but yet clinical at the same time. I have gone through many therapists who have been helpful, in a friendship kinda' way -- where I mutter to myself, "I should have just went to my friend's house instead of sitting here and paying someone to pretend to be my 'friend'." I'm not implying that therapists are insincere, but there is no value of your dollar if you're just sitting around with someone shooting the breeze as if you were hanging out with a friend. I need clinical advice -- I need survival techniques on how to deal with my panic attacks or issues or anything else I am paying them to help me with. There have been countless times when I found myself feeling the need to ask the therapist, "Hey -- are you okay?" Most are grasping at straws trying to find solutions to your problems, all the while trying to find solutions for their own. I guess we're all human trying to make our way through the maze. My point is: friendship and therapy are two entirely different things. If your therapist feels more like a friend, then you may need to see someone else. If your friendship feels more like a therapy session, then the same applies. There has to be a balance.

What about intimate relationships?

Wouldn't it be nice if your partner or spouse were your best friend? But, isn't that how it's supposed to be?  Madelene and I were best friends for a couple of years before we made a commitment. Oddly enough, that commitment was made on December 10th (today's date) in 1996. I met her in '94. When a relationship stands on a foundation of friendship, you can get through most of life's issues together. I have been in intimate relationships that started on a very sexual note, which usually ended up on bad terms because there was no foundation of friendship to begin with. So our entire 'relationship' overall just crumbled as a house would when there is no foundation of its own. In a relationship, I need to feel loved. I also need to show my love. Love isn't just a feeling, it's an action too. You do things out of love. You'll demonstrate how far you'll go for someone without even saying, "I love you." But don't forget to tell them "I love you" every single day. They'll already know because they feel it. They see it. They know it. You should, without a doubt, know how much someone loves and cares for you if you are in a relationship or marriage with them. When my wife says, "I love you," she then asks, "...but do you feel it?" I think that's pretty cool after knowing her for over 20 years.

Vulnerability means instability to some.

And that's very normal to feel. It's scary to be completely vulnerable to someone, especially if you were hurt in the past. Your walls are high and your bricks are thick. Nobody's busting through. But you know something -- life is too short not to be vulnerable. Take those risks for someone you love. We're always going to get hurt, whether through a breakup or through death of our loved ones. There's no stopping it either. But it hurts more to be closed up. I closed myself up for a very long time after being hurt. I pushed so many good people away and ended up feeling very lonely -- even if there were many "acquaintances" around me. I didn't feel connected. I felt like I lost myself over a hurt that I wasn't "allowing" myself to get over. I became bitter, and with that, I started hating myself. I started feeling insecure and scared. I started blaming everybody else for what people did to me in the past. It all had a ripple effect. The day I opened up -- the day I became vulnerable, was the day I felt free. It was the day I allowed someone else to love me. It was the day I allowed myself to love someone in return, even if...I got hurt again. And wow, it's such a scary feeling. The one thing I learned is that we have to do things in fear, or we'll never do them at all. And not to say that you still won't feel the hurt from the past, but it does get better. I can still think about a past offense from someone I once loved and cry my eyes out. It's still 'there' -- but I survived. I guess in a way, this entire paragraph made me feel a bit vulnerable. I'm a bit emotional writing it, but if it helps someone else who is going through what I went through, then I'll refrain from deleting it. Unconditional love is hard to find, unless you have a dog. That's just my two cents.

"Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It's the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, 'This is me, and I'm interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more important, all that I am not.'" --Ashton Kutcher

"Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can't ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment's notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow -- that's vulnerability." --Brene Brown

Philophobia: The fear of being in love and falling in love. The risk is usually when a person has confronted any emotional turmoil relating to love in the past but also can be chronic phobia.

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