Tuesday, March 22, 2011

True Friendship

Did you ever meet someone for the first time and just “click?” It’s a great thing when it happens. It’s rare, but when you find someone you know is a kindred spirit, it’s exactly what life is all about. I am blessed to have at least six really, really close friends. People who I can really trust, confide in, and who I know I share a deep bond with based in trust and mutual respect. That all may sound very textbook, but really… most people can’t say they have more than just a few people who they have a true, deep, lasting bond with outside of relatives.

Friendship is probably one of the biggest joys in life, maybe even more so than romantic love. It’s friendships that hold us together when life falls apart. Its friends that we lean on when romantic relationships end. It’s friends that we turn to when we are sad, lonely, afraid, angry, or when something so unbelievable happens that we can’t contain ourselves. There are so many levels of this thing we call friendship, and the deepest ones take years and years to form. Years filled with conversations, shared experiences, ups and downs, disagreements, battles fought side by side and lots and lots of hysterical laughter. Getting to the deepest levels of these relationships doesn’t seem like much work to me, personally, because I happen to be a very open person (in case you haven’t noticed from my blog posts) and I think that people either like that very much and find it easy to talk to me because of it, or, they think I’m a fruitcake and run for the hills.

Recently, one of my closest girlfriends and I had a very intense conversation about how close our friendship has become. We’ve known each other for six years now. I can scarcely believe it’s been six years. In those years we’ve seen each other through so many major life events it’s almost ridiculous… divorce, deaths, heartbreaks, other friendships that have come and gone, attempted suicides, interventions, countless family crisis’s, surgeries, and the list goes on. We’ve laughed so much and had so many inside jokes that we basically speak our own language with each other now. We’ve discussed how we differ, we’ve discussed things we agree on that make us so friend-compatible, we’ve spent times when we lost contact and then came back together as though no time had passed. We’ve respected each other through choices we didn’t agree with, we’ve picked on each other when we’ve screwed up, and we’ve laughed at ourselves and each other in good fun. But what has really welded us together is the ability to be honest with each other. And, I think, that’s the same glue that’s bonded me with all of my other really close friends, as well.

When I was very young, I remember someone using the phrase “cultivating friendships.” I love that phrase because it is so accurate. Friendships don’t deepen because you simply spend time in the same room. Friendships deepen when you’re willing to give of yourself and take emotional risks. When you respect someone enough to want to have a deep bond with them, when you want to be able to confide in them and you want to know they’ll be there for you when you need a shoulder, you must take that leap of faith and let your guard down. You must move beyond the acquaintance phase and the Emily Post manners as each new experience you share bonds you. If you can’t let your guard down then you can expect to never have the kind of intense, deeply fulfilling relationships with your friends that will really make your life … and theirs… so much better.

Will you get hurt? Absolutely. From time to time friendships end. Sometimes badly, and sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes you get to know someone and find out they either aren’t who you thought they were, or they aren’t someone you can respect, and you must walk away. Sometimes you get to know someone and find out that they aren’t trustworthy. And sometimes, as strange as it sounds, you get to know someone and find out that they aren’t willing to open up and allow you to be there for them, and it’s a strange sensation… but one you know will keep you at arms length forever. Most times, those relationships don’t last.

But, when you meet someone who you mesh with… someone who gets you, and who you have a mutual respect and admiration for, then friendship that lasts the test of time and withstands insane obstacles can grow. I am so, so blessed to have more than a handful of these. You know who you are; I love you all and will always be there for you. Thank you all … individually … for being exactly who you are.