I now run a sort of hotline.

Only a select few have the number and although it is open 24/7, I am not always inundated with problems and quandaries.

Some get in contact more than others. Some call with small problems and daily decisions, others hold off until they have a spanner to throw in the works.

The best thing about a homie hotline, or rather viewing the love, care and advice that you give to your friends as such, is that one must ring a hotline to get advice. Someone from the Samaritans isn’t just going to phone you up and predict that you’re feeling a little grey. They wait for you to come to them, and only then, do they listen and attempt to shed light.

Prior to my hotline method, I gave quite a lot of my semi-professional advice, without consent. In other words, nobody asked for it, nobody felt that they needed it but alas my opinion was on them like a sneeze from the person opposite you on a crowded train carriage.

I find it difficult to bite my tongue. To sit on my two pence. To refrain from shouting: ‘What the fuck, are you mad? That’s an awful idea’.

There are exceptions of course. Times at which it’s absolutely necessary to take the risk of offending and give your opinion from a place of love and panic to a friend who doesn’t want to hear it. It’s like signing a disclaimer: ‘If this all goes tits up, I promise that I won’t say I told you so, as long as you know that I told you so’.

But, what I’m learning. As I grow and develop into a slightly more knowledgeable person, is that not everyone thinks what you have to say is gold dust or oxygen. Not everyone needs or wants your opinion. They will survive without it. They may not need your help, your support or your concern. This is not a reflection on you. It is a reflection on them, their situation and decision making process. Don’t take it personally, instead let them know the hotline number just incase they ever change their minds and they decide that they would like to factor your opinion into their situation.

It’s human nature to be nosey and it makes you a good friend for caring but, it’s positive to remember that although you may be a part of that persons life, it is not your life.

I am also finding that this is a great way to minimise the amount that you care about other people’s problems or situations. I’d like not to sound like a bitch, so let me rephrase. I will always harbour a level of concern, interest and time in the lives of my loved ones. This will never change. But, what I am beginning to realise is if I care more about their lives than I do my own, I begin to dwindle. Sort of as though I’ve given them my charger, and in return receive an alert stating: ‘10% Battery Low’.

Now that I don’t actively seek the role of judgemental guru or therapist in my friends lives, I have time to do that to myself and my own decisions. Then, when they ring the hotline, asking for advice or support, I’m all ears. I am fully charged. It also means that my advice is taken into account, listened to, respected rather than received with annoyance and resentment.

I too hate receiving any sort of opinion if I have not asked for it. I hate being psychoanalysed and I hate people telling me what I like, what I don’t like and how I should act. FOK OFF. But alas, this makes me a hypocrite as I am the first to jump on the Agony Aunt band wagon of ‘hmmm are you sure that he’s right for you?’

In short, what I’m trying to say, is that I will always have a sturdy shoulder for those that I love to lean on. However, in order to keep that shoulder strong and ensure that my friends continue to seek it, it will be more of an open for business, than a Jehovah witness knocking at your front door.

I think that’s what we all need, the knowledge of a safety blanket, without being suffocated by it.

Love, care and support always – opinions and judgement on request.

What a tagline for a hotline.

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