A couple of years ago I was chatting to my twin sister about friendships. She said something to me that I hadn’t heard before which was: “You see, in life Laura, there are two types of people; radiators and drains”.
My jaw fell open because I thought that was one of the most insightful things she’d ever said. She laughed when I replied, “That is so true. That’s so clever of you Lizzie”. She was laughing at me because I thought it was one of her wise expressions (and she has lots). She told me it was a very well-known phrase that she definitely couldn’t take credit for.
I later learned that it’s one of Oprah Winfrey’s but Lizzie, my ten minutes older than me twin-sister, who in my eyes is the more wise version of the two of us, could easily have come up with it! (For clarification and forgive me if I’m telling you something you already know, radiators are those who generate positivity and enthusiasm, filling you with the feel-good factor when you’ve been in their company; drains on the other hand lean more towards a negative outlook on life leaving you feeling flat, empty and low).
Who said this very wise thing doesn’t really matter. What matters, is that it’s true. And it’s important to decide which one you would prefer to be and which one you would prefer to be around.
I’ve had a lot of thinking time recently whilst relaxing on a sun-drenched beach in southern Spain. I’ve been reflecting on lots of things including this topic and I’ve quickly arrived at the following conclusion: I’m a very lucky lady indeed because in my life I have lots of radiators and very few drains.
Living with secondary breast cancer has had a re-wiring effect on me and put simply, I function better surrounded by family and friends who uplift me, support me and make me laugh (including making me laugh at myself because the ability to retain a sense of humour is a VERY IMPORTANT THING when you live with metastatic breast cancer).
But just like the radiators in my house that are fitted with valves, the level of functioning as a radiator person has to be adjustable because being a fully switched on radiator-type all of the time is draining in itself. My radiator family and friends are completely adjustable; they acknowledge my down days, know when I’m having one and know when a hug and a listening ear is all that’s needed; listening in a quiet way is a true radiator trait unlike a drain who is prone to talking too much, normally about themselves.
So, confession time……..I’ve had more than a few days in the last couple of months where I’ve behaved like a drain. What I call my ’80/20 balance’ has felt completely biased towards being drain-like.
Dealing with the grief of losing another friend, Allison, to breast cancer coupled with my 83-year-old Mam being very poorly at the start of the year made me sad and a sad Laura is a miserable toad who, if allowed to, turns very quickly into Little Miss Anxious. I’ve been that person before and she drains me. My radiators rescued me with acts of kindness. Thank you.
You helped me find my radiation again which in my book means being able to listen to the problems of others, offer support in their hour of need, make them smile when they’ve forgotten how to and remind them that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And, that if all else fails, watching Car Share with Peter Kay, (Series 2, Episode 1) will cheer them up……”it’s a car not a coaster”
Focussing on improving my radiator qualities produces a version of me that I like. Allison wouldn’t want me to be sad, she’d want me to be happy and behave like a true radiator.
So, peeps, what’s it be? Radiator or drain?