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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Friends

 

1friend

noun \ˈfrend\

: a person who you like and enjoy being with

: a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)

Full Definition of FRIEND

1

a : one attached to another by affection or esteem

b : acquaintance

2

a : one that is not hostile

b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group

3

: one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)

4

: a favored companion

5

capitalized : a member of a Christian sect that stresses Inner Light, rejects sacraments and an ordained ministry, and opposes war —called also Quaker

friend·less adjective

friend·less·ness noun

be friends with

: to have a friendship or friendly relationship with

Related to FRIEND

Synonyms
alter ego, amigo, buddy, chum, compadre, comrade,confidant, confidante, crony, familiar, intimate, mate[chiefly British], musketeer, pal
Antonyms
enemy, foe
Synonyms
alter ego, amigo, buddy, chum, compadre, comrade,confidant, confidante, crony, familiar, intimate, mate[chiefly British], musketeer, pal
Antonyms
enemy, foe

In junior high, I decided it would be fun to be friends with everyone. Not limit myself to one or two people only. I looked at all my peers that I'd gone through school with since kindergarten and realized that we only had three years left where we'd all be together. And what a shame that I didn't know some of them better than I did. I was friends with the proper church kids, the "bad" kids, and I made a good effort with the weird kids. I laughed a bit louder, I learned things I didn't know before.

In high school, I managed to get in with a reasonably "cool" group of kids. Even though I was a country bumpkin who travelled in on the bus and only had one pair of jeans, no sexual experience, no television, not even pierced ears, I found friendship with these much more urbanized peers. Sure, they laughed at me without mercy for all that I didn't know. But they also loved me. They were my friends. Wendy was my go to. She gave me clothes, taught me about eye liner and boyfriends. We laughed together through operetta rehearsals, band concerts, choir practise. She told me about french kissing and boners.

As an interesting aside, high school was the intersection of all these very special friends in my life. My sister Carol was in grade twelve when I started grade ten. Joanne transferred to the same high school as I was in. Elaine's small town funnelled their grade nines to my school. Carol had her peers, Elaine had a group of her own, Joanne had become a loner, and I had my cool kids.

After we all graduated, my own life seems to spiral into continuously tiny, fragmented particles. My secret eating disorder became a larger than life monster. My sister moved away to Bible school. My friends were seriously committed to their boyfriend relationships. They knew what they were doing with their lives. They were enrolled in university, had purpose, and direction. They had a future.

I probably became a lousey friend at the time, what with my head spinning in circles, my body being unwell, my anxiety and depression hijacking who I'd thought myself to be.

Still I had many friends in the years that continued to stretch forward.

Barb. Rose S. Michael, and Robert. Kathy- who paid for two phone calls a month for me to phone home collect when I lived at Capernwray for a year. Donna, Les. Henry, Walter. Nancy, Caroline, Wanda. Brigitte, Edith, Iris.

I had friends, even though there were parts of me that no one could access. Even though I was slow and obsessive and depressed.

I'm older now. The monster has been tamed, the anxiety treated, the secret parts exposed to the fresh air of kindness and healing.

I still resonate with my junior high self.

It's fascinating to listen to all sorts of people. It's a privilege to be allowed into their life stories.

I've learned things about friendship along the way. Where does my friend end, and where do I begin? What do I disagree with and choose not to loudly berate?

Friendship. People. It's what I value the very most in my life thus far.

There have been dark underbellies to friendships over the years. Joanne divorced me in science class, grade seven, 1980. She said we couldn't be friends any more. I didn't know who I would sit with for lunch that day, or who I would walk with at recess. She never wanted to be friends again, ever, and it was because I wanted to expand my horizons. I wonder if she felt betrayed, and so betrayed me back.

Numerous friends ceased to exist for all intents and purposes when they began to spend all their time with potential partners, had mental breakdowns, or lived with some giant secrets that they simply could not disclose because of fear of misunderstanding. Some got absorbed into dysfunctional sexual relationships. Others abandoned me entirely when a mutual friend chose to "go AAAALLLLL the way" with my sometime boyfriend and things got weird and awkward in the group dynamic. Easier to ditch me and go with the program.

Sometimes, it has come down to some really painful decisions.

A terrible recognition that some people are not friends. No matter what they say.

Does this make me change my mind about being a friend in this world?

No. For it is my friends, my kind friends, who have shown me the value of real love in this world of pain and broken promises, betrayals, and insincerity. It is my friends that I turn to when I think I stink. When I'm terrified and tiny, when words have been thrown my way, when others accuse me of what's not at all true. It is my friends who show up with hot cheddar soup, dreadfully addictive caramel popcorn twists, sangria, and gifts of second hand fabric. It is my friends I meet in McDonald's parking lots halfway between your house and mine. Where we share daughters, coffee, hilarity, personal truths. It is my friends that I meet for breakfast to spill tears and explore thoughts that I never knew had words. Friends meet on gym floors, sharing wine and stories. Friends convene for birthdays, send e-mails of grief and sorrow, friends organize support for new moms, sick grandmas, broken marriages.

Friends are the ones who rejoice with those who rejoice, and are not threatened or jealous of your successes and surprises. Friends are honest, but they choose their words laden with kindness and care.

They don't say mean things and cover it up with; "You know I didn't really mean that".

They ask about your life, and listen with curiosity and intent.

They let you in.

Friends are respectful. Before they speak, they consider their audience.

They speak the truth. With love.

Friends know that it will be safe to say what is on their heart. That even if we don't see the world the same way, it's good and kind and caring to listen and to seek to understand one another. Friends sometimes see your truth before you do. They show you gently, with compassion. Sometimes they say nothing at all, because there's a time and there's a place and sometimes the best thing to do is wait.

 

Sometimes the "being nice" is the "hard work".

But at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself- Did I treat others fairly? With kindness? Can I go to sleep without worrying about wounds in my wake? We can't change other people, nor can we be responsible for how they treat us, but that's not our place.

Sometimes it comes down to knowing when to hold loosely, so that what doesn't belong can drift away. Remember and celebrate those people who lift you up. Be sure to tell them with words, they may not know.

And "Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting".

I still don't believe I was ever meant to have a best friend. You're not likely to get the half a heart locket from me this Christmas with your piece saying "best" and mine touting "friend".

But I no longer think of it as an obvious flaw, but more of a gift. An amazingly generous gift of many, many kind, insightful, generous, gentle, funny, creative, life-giving friends. Without whom I cannot imagine my life. My friends is how I measure my life.

Looks like tremendous wealth. The kind you can rarely lose.

 

5 comments:

Judy said...

I knew that I loved you when I first read your blog post about using tuna fish cans to hold up your couch.
MY kind of friend. Real.

Karla said...

It's funny how I can't really remember my life before you were my friend.... I can't remember what it was like to not be able to send you inappropriate, crude, ridonkulous texts or ones with so much honesty that only you could ever be the recipient because i know that I know that I know that you won't judge. I'm glad I don't remember what that was like. I like your life intersected with mine.

Your BFF

Michelle said...

Love your heart, Joyce. You are such a deep thinker who has a heart of gold. And I sound like I'm 80... :) Thanks for your insights on friendship.

brenda said...

Hey, back off Karla! Didn't you read the post or get the memo? Joycie doesn't do BFF otherwise we'd all be vying for that position! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love this post.... brought back so many memories. MK