I have this friend that is incredible and lives much too far away. She's well read, intelligent and able to listen to an explanation of where I am in life or what I'm struggling with and then give me back dead-on, beautiful insights. I can share what makes me sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, helpless and so on. And she always hears me out, dismisses all the ways that I've managed to insert how awful I am and then plucks out the most important theme of the conversation.
And I want to give this gift back to her. To listen and to point out the ways that she's missing the crux of her situation. To give her back these same lovely insights that make a person feel seen and heard and loved. And I feel like I keep failing at that. Instead I come across as this bossy American full of advice and "this here is what you gotta do" sentences.
So she reminds me that I get too anxious when people I love are hurting and then try to "fix" it even when I shouldn't. And I need to not give her so much advice and to just listen to her. And we argue in a friendly way when I remind her that everyone has a worthwhile perspective, even if it comes across with a bossy Midwestern accent. And then we tell each other that we love each other and hang up the phone.
And it is really unsatisfying.
Because we are not able to have the second part of this interaction. The one where I show up at her doorstep later that night with a gift that makes her smile. Or we go drinking together until we are dissolving into laughter making fun of our ridiculously over serious selves.
So I try to hold tight to the "Accept that we sometimes need to just exist in the spaces where we are uncomfortable." zen-counsel that she gives me. And hope that some of my "Don't accept the status quo, take control of what makes you unhappy, eh?" direction I give her sticks with her. And then I mentally beam big bear hugs across the Atlantic into her living room while I go about the rest of my day.