I learnt about this concept a few years ago, I think – making space for someone. It’s where you set aside space in your day to listen to and support someone you love. When you ‘make space’ for someone – you make a decision to love and care for them.
(Edit: Oh hahaha I’ve just done a Google search and the correct term is Hold Space for someone. Oops 😬)
Well *wry smile* that’s how I interpreted it, anyway.
So I wanted to write to you about the difference in the way I treat people who I have made space for V’s those I haven’t.
My friend Aurelie, for instance – will call on a Thursday or Friday evening. It’s her “Mom night off” and she has free reign to do whatever she pleases while her husband takes over ‘kid watching’ for the night. Aurelie’s cute little pic will flash up on my phone and even as I’m answering her, I can hear her lighter clicking and her inhaling deeply on her bong. I smile to myself and think “here we go“. I turn the TV off, put the book I was reading away and I get myself comfortable and settled because talks with Aurelie last hours. I make space for her. I give her my full attention, listening with my entire being to every word she says – even if those words slur a bit towards the end or don’t make any sense,
I’m there for it. ALL OF IT.
I meet regularly with my mates and when I do, I make space for them.
Catherine and I meet for lunch at the Coffee Club almost every Saturday for lunch and maybe a movie. Often just lunch because nothing worthy of the ticket price seems to be out at the moment. I meet with Genevieve every few months for brunch at one of the pretty cafes along the river in East Perth. We’ll grab toasted sandwiches and freshly squeezed juice and talk for hours while we watch boats (expensive ones!) come and go. I meet Alison maybe every fortnight for lunch in the city and each time, we try a different bar or cafe. The last time we met up – maybe a few weeks back – we went to a Spanish bar and omg you guys – it was awesome. I loved the music, the exposed brick on the walls, the little share plates of yummy meats, breads and dips and the feeling that we’d honestly flown to Spain for the afternoon because so much thought had gone into creating the Bar/Cafe with a Spanish “atmosphere”.
I generally meet up with Samantha maybe once a month. Sam will drive over to my house, and we’ll NOT TALK, but we’ll sit close on the sofa and scroll quietly on our phones together. Sometimes, Sam will tilt her screen towards me “Is he hot?” and I’ll nod or scoff – she’ll swipe left or right accordingly. Sometimes I’ll tilt my phone towards Sam “Would this look nice in the living room?” and Sam will give her approval or disgust. I like that we can do LITERALLY NOTHING together and it’s a great afternoon.
With Caris, our ‘routine’ is to meet at Hunter and Barrell (a fancy bar with a Viking theme) for dinner once a week after work. We’ll order something “meaty” to share and we always start off with the turkish bread and bowl of melted cheese to dip it in. SO GOOD. Terry and I will smack-talk each other every time we meet up to verse each other in mini golf, Troy and I will argue passionately over our favourite songs and why we love them so much or we’ll connect and feel like “Best buds” over our love of great documentaries, Samantha and I will exchange books and include a bar of chocolate and the next time we meet up, we’ll give each other an honest book review, it’s awesome.
Before I start writing you a novel, I’ll get back to my point.
When I’m with my friend, I make space for them. I set aside that time of the day for that specific friend and I give them my undivided attention. I listen with my whole heart, body, mind and soul to everything they’re saying – I listen to their body language and will reach out and squeeze their hand if I notice it’s shaking. I will playfully nudge or yell out an enthusiastic “YUSS!!! HIGH FIVE!” when I’m with a guy friend because guys seem to like the jostling and rivalry.
When you’re in my heart and I call you my friend – it’s because I’ve “held space” for you. So, when you’re with me, you’ll know you’re safe. You’re treasured. You’re cherished. I’ll hang on your every word. I’ll gasp with surprise when you reveal a secret or laugh with you when you tell me that embarrassing thing you did. I’ll cry with you when you miss your Dad (because I miss mine too, I know what you’re going through and it’s fucking painful) or had to put your pet down as they were too old and too ill, I’ll be there. I’ll cheer you on when you take on new challenges or just walk quietly beside you and let you rant when you’re mad/hurting.
I’ll also enable your naughty behaviour because I just want you to be happy so to hell with the rules! Smoke that bong! Smash that 6 pack of beers! Yes! Eat that cake! Enjoy that sexy massage, man! (*ahem*) – do whatever makes you happy because you’re not hurting anyone so if you’re going to ask “Janet – is this ok?” I’m going to encourage it. Soz not soz.
Why I’m writing this is because I DO NOT WANT TO MAKE OR HOLD SPACE FOR CERTAIN PEOPLE. As much as I want to be liked by everyone, I’m not. To be fair, I’m really annoying. On the flip side of that – as much as someone might want to be friends with me – they’re not always going to be successful. In this particular case, I can see that “Cupcake Kara” seems to be a good person, bless her – she’s REALLY FUCKING STUPID, and I honestly wonder at how she gets herself dressed and to work every day, but I can’t judge – I’m fairly stupid myself at times.
I think CK wants to be friends, though.
I do not want that.
Sorry, CK but you’re too fucking annoying for me and I spend 9 hours with you a day as it is – unwillingly. We work together. You are a work colleague.
I don’t want to hear about your divorce.
I don’t want to hear about the exploits of your ex. To be honest, I kind of side with him – you drive me nuts at work, I can’t imagine how much worse it would be for someone MARRIED to you!
I don’t care about your multitude of illnesses!!!
Because I’ve NOT made space for CK and DO NOT consider her a friend, I give short, polite, clipped answers and I hope – I really hope – that one day she’ll “catch on” that I want to keep things on a professional level with her and that she’ll stop telling me her overly personal (and very uncomfortable) stories.
I DON’T WANT TO MAKE SPACE FOR HER. I don’t want her to make space for me.
I’m addressing this today because a friend of CK’s passed away on the weekend and I know from previous experience that she’ll be hell bent on talking about it. All day. In great detail. Of course, I’m sad for her and I can empathize with the pain that losing a friend must cause. I offered my condolences and asked to make CK a cup of tea, she declined.
THAT’S WHERE MY CARING ENDS, MATE.
Because I’ve not made space for you, you complete nutter.
I’m really sorry your friend passed away and I honestly think you should have taken some time off to grieve that loss – but I don’t want to know all the ins and out of it, no sir.
CK – being her annoying self – IS TELLING ME ANY WAY.
“It’s been so hard, Janet” she’ll raise her voice and repeat this sentence, getting slightly louder each time so that I have NO CHOICE but to hear her over our ‘covid’ desk partitions.
“I can imagine. I’m really sorry about that. CK – I have to get this report out by noon, so I have to concentrate on this, ok?”
I would think this would send out a very CLEAR MESSAGE not to speak to me.
Does it, though? NOPE.
“We were friends for a while there” CK sighs loudly.
I take a deep breath and try my best to ignore her.
She stabs noisily at her keyboard for a few moments. That poor keyboard. My hope starts to rise that maybe – just maybe – she’s doing some ACTUAL WORK and will leave me alone.
“It’s just that I’m suffering so much” she’ll sigh dramatically.
I’ll keep typing and not offer anything up.
“SO MUCH!” She’ll raise her voice.
“I’m sorry to hear that” I’ll acknowledge.
PLEASE. PLEASE STOP TALKING TO ME.
“I’m left with this…pain”
“I’m just left…bereft…and all this on top of losing my husband, too”
He’s not dead, CK. He just left you. Every day, I’m starting to realise why.
If CK was a friend – I’d message her on TEAMS something like “I’m hurting for you and I know you’ll feel tender and sad today. I’m thinking of you. How about we go to lunch together this arvo? I’ll treat you to pancakes or something comforting and you can say – or not say – anything you need to, I’m here xxxx”
But since she’s not, I will leave things at “I’m so sorry for your loss” NOW PLEASE SHUT UP.
Leave a Reply