It was 6 years ago and I’d just started my career in Health and safety and working in one of the mining companies in Ghana. That is where I met him. We both got along the very first day and we would later become very close friends.
Sam had problems. His problem was, he had too many problems. Anytime we were not talking about our respective jobs, he would own the space and discuss his problem. Usually, I would come in and give him a tip or two. His problems are like the legends of the hair of Medusa; You cut one off and two grew up in its place. Nothing seems to go away permanently. He was a nice gentleman. He allowed his problems to eat him from the inside out.
One night, he called me on the phone and broke down. Minutes went by, and he couldn’t say a thing. All he did was to sob like a child. I hung up the phone and went to his house straightaway. He had relationship problems. The woman had run away and left the kids home. No one was there to take care of the children. When I came back home, I couldn’t sleep. All night I was thinking about my friend. The problem became mine and I carried it without even knowing.
My friend had problems. Those problems became mine too. Some nights I had to find solutions to a problem I wasn’t facing. I had to forgive people on his behalf(because he wasn’t ready to do so). Sometimes I even had deadlines to come up with solutions else my friend will be in trouble. It affected my work. I was becoming less focused. Sometimes I would go to a toolbox meeting and would have nothing to share. I would sometimes go to work very late because I spent all my sleeping hours finding solutions to problems I’m not facing. I was trying to pull him out of the drowning waters of his problems and he succeeded in pulling me to drown with him.
So This is What I Did…
I had to make a decision. I had to swim to safety or drown trying to save a friend. One morning, I woke up and there was only one thing on my mind; swim away to safety. The night before that morning, I’d switched my phone off, slept very early and decided not to be interrupted by his usual late night calls. In the morning when I saw him he was like “hey what happened to your phone last night, I called you ceaselessly and it was off..” I answered him; “phones do go off sometimes…so should our problems”. That morning my mind was made up, we were either going to talk about work or nothing else. He sensed my mood wasn’t right but he wanted to go on talking about his problems…I left him!
I remember talking to him in my head as I was going; “Boy your life isn’t working. If you believe in reincarnation, go and come back again. In your next life, you might be lucky. You might come back as a bird or something with wings. Then you can fly above and beyond people who try to throw stones at you”.
Then I Learnt These Facts Of Life
#1. You don’t need to carry someone who can’t carry himself. Life is easy if people learned to lend a helping hand to each other. It’s easier if the people we tend to lend a helping hand to also learn to help themselves first.
#2. It’s not healthy to walk with people who slow down your pace. We need to get somewhere at the end of each day’s travel. We need to hit a mark we could be proud of as individuals. If we need to achieve goals with someone, we rather do it with someone who encourages us to walk faster or at least walks our pace. People who slow you down are a burden. Drop them as fast as you could.
#3. People who sit and cry instead of standing to face their challenges are not worth the friendship. Unless of course, you want to learn how to sit and cry too, other than that, move on and be friends with people who see mountains and yet call it a molehill.
#4. I learned I can’t be a savior to a fellow who doesn’t wish to be saved. It’s not worth the struggle and in the end, it wastes our time. The effort we put in the act and the dedication we put in will eventually have a toll on our spirit, not because we tried harder but because we did something we shouldn’t have started in the first place.
#5. I learned to choose myself first. It is not selfishness. It is what it is. When you give yourself in dedication to try to solve other people’s problem, you might lose yourself in their problems. Your desire should be to be a better person so people close to you can learn to sparkle in your light.
Sometimes I miss Sam but I don’t regret moving on away from him. I rediscovered my grace and had time for other things that made me swell. I even had a girlfriend. Can you imagine? I had time to get myself a girlfriend! Well, it didn’t last. She too left me. Oh yeah, she did. Maybe I was becoming a Sam in her life. So she learned to move on. Without me, sadly.
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