We've all heard of fair weather friends: those friends who prove, in bad times, that they are no true friends at all. They are the ones with all the sticking power of a wet Post It note, the ones who disappear so fast you don't even see their dust.
But there are other friends who appear sometimes out of the blue, just when those blue skies turn inky black. They appear clad in oilskins, prepared to weather through the storm with you. Occasionally they might carry umbrellas and blankets, but more often than not, they provide only a comforting arm to lean on, an absorbent shoulder to cry on and the steady reassurance that you are not alone.
Dave was one such friend. Thirty years ago when I was going through my (very painful) divorce, he was there for me. Oh, I knew him casually as he'd been a member of the larger Dungeons and Dragons gaming group to which we belonged. He always played a cleric as it was against his principles to use an edged blade; although the damage he could wield with that staff was considerable; never underestimate a cleric, folks!
But the moment my ex and I parted, the moment I moved out on my own, there he was, at the end of the phone, night after night, deep into those nights, listening to me as I wept.
Just listening mostly, and not saying much. These foul weather friends are really good at listening.
And then disappearing when you don't need them anymore. The moment I was ready to stand on my own two feet, to set out to explore the next chapter of my life, Dave, with gentleness and delicate tact, just disappeared.
I have not seen him since, but have heard from mutual friends that he made a habit of supporting people in distress, people who needed him and then leaving when they didn't need him further. Something like Nanny McPhee, do you remember?
"When you need me but do not want me I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me then I have to go."
I'm thinking of Dave just at the moment as it is my turn to provide the shoulder for a friend, to listen deep into the night, to metaphorically hold their hand and to assure them they are not alone. It is an honour and a privilege and I appreciate deeply the trust shown to me.
Every blog we post here on Moodscope is designed to perform that same function. Moodscope, by its nature, is a foul weather friend.
No – we can't do much listening here, on the front of the page; but if you go to the comments then you will find a space there. Feel free to pour your heart out. You can do it anonymously and be assured of a safe space with no judgement and plenty of support.
We have hankies and hugs. You are not alone.
A Moodscope member.