I looked him in the face and we both smiled after making eye contact. It was one of those smiles that says “I love you friend, there’s so much between us now and too much to say in this moment so let’s keep it at pleasantries”
And we did just that. Our conversation broken between what was going on with family, work, the holidays. It was the sort of conversation you have when you know the words that hang between you are thick and laced with regret.
I wanted to reach out and hug him and tell him how much I missed the deep, intellectual conversations we used to have, the walks on the beach to nowhere, the drinks and live music, the laughter and the knowing that there was a person, another human who actually understood me. But I did none of those things.
I made small talk because it wasn’t the time or the place for big talk.
Adult friendships are funny, they don’t have the same growth that lifelong friendships have. As an adult when you meet someone new you usually evaluate pretty quickly if the other person is someone you’d ever go out of your way to hang out with again. If they are, then you’ve stumbled onto something pretty unique because most people stick to the social circles they’ve cultivated since high school or college. When you find another human you click with and WANT to spend time with it’s pretty special.
When I met him I thought he was handsome and funny, but more than that, he was a kind, deep thinker. We connected instantly and soon began spending several days a week together. He was my friend, not in a romantic way just in that rare recognition of another’s soul. He was unafraid to bare it, he wore truth like a well tailored suit and it suited him well…(pun intended)
He was someone I could share my innermost thoughts with, my musings, my dreams, my fears, my insecurities, my beliefs and I could do this without judgment.
So when our friendship broke I was shocked. The details aren’t important. The cliff notes version was that there was dishonesty and betrayal and something I could not in good conscience support and a boundary was crossed that I could not agree with nor reconcile at the time, coming from my truth baring superhero friend.
I suppose the thing that he helped me realize about myself is that I am an unyielding catalyst. A ball of energy and emotion that for the most part stays contained within my 5 foot frame, but in instances when I feel my integrity is challenged I morph into an endless expanse of veracity that reigns down over anyone and everything in my path. And I do this sometimes to the detriment of those closest to me.
That’s not to say that I regret it.
I do not regret speaking the truth but sometimes the manner in which I deliver it is lacking in tact or regard for those hearing it. That old adage is accurate.
“It isn’t what you say…it’s how you say it”
Friendship by definition is…”the quality or state of being friendly”
But isn’t it so much more than that?
Don’t we place an extreme amount of pressure on those we call friends…and those we call best friends, well let’s just say the expectation is that they are going to be by our side through thick and thin.
Our best friends are going to help us bury bodies and paint our houses and take our 2 am phone calls and listen to our endless complaints about the same subject for the last 10 years. They are going to hold our hands through illness, wipe our tears through loss, feed us when were hungry, drink with us after a long day, try all the latest exercise trends, bake us cakes for our birthdays, host our bridal showers and bachelor parties, show up at our kids birthdays…even when they don’t yet have kids of their own. The title BEST FRIEND implies that time has been spent earning that distinction.
We have inside stories and inside jokes, we know each other’s secrets and desires and fears. We don’t find it at all irrational when our friend calls us out of the blue saying they’re waiting outside of their home until you get there because of a spider in the house. Because we’ve known for years their fear of spiders and we show up prepared to go to war for them because we expect them to do the same…
So what happens when our friends don’t live up to the expectations we place on them? What happens when they fail us?
Or worse what happens when we fail them?
I have failed friends and friends have failed me and it seems the strangest thing we do in those instances is to strip them of their title as friends. I am certainly not talking about things that would fall into extreme categories like a friend who betrays you by sleeping with your spouse or someone who steals from you or causes you harm in any way. I am talking about the misunderstandings, the oversights, the temporary lapses in judgment or the miscommunication that gets out of hand.
All friendships face evolution and sadly some friendships face extinction. What happens when someone who was once so close to us becomes someone that we used to know?
In my own experience it hasn’t made their role in my life any less significant. In fact those friends who have gone have taught me just as much about myself as the ones who remain. There are some friends that I can gladly say I evolved into a better person because of them, some who have taught me what kind of a friend not to be. Some friends have shown me what real friendship looks like and some who weren’t ever really friends at all.
I have found that the friendships I have held in my life are a direct reflection of where I was in my personal growth. The people we bestow the title friend hold a mirror up to us whether we want to admit it or not.
“You are the company you keep” ~
I used to think that was the biggest load of garbage my grandfather would say. But I am now aware that that statement is entirely accurate. The company you keep IS a reflection of who you are and we are a reflection of them, so shouldn’t it be our duty to be the best humans possible.
I can be better. I should be better and I vow to my friends…I will be better, better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.
I’d like to hear your stories of friendship, the good, the bad and everything in between.
please share below!!