There are “friends” and then there are friends.
Friends are the ones who stick by your side through summer and winter and no matter which way the autumn wind is blowing.
A friend is someone who can pick the conversation up again, no matter if it last ended a week, a month or a year ago.
And then, alas, there are the “friends” — the ones that string you along until a better offer comes around, who never “have time” for a phone call, who put up a wall between themselves and emotional availability and vulnerability.
I have and had both types of friends, of course. Everyone probably has, I suppose. The “friends” are the ones who I can so easily allow to hurt me as I struggle to finally wake-up and realize that there is only a one-sided conversation going on. When I get hurt, it is often my own fault because I don’t back away in time — I am too loyal. And I forget sometimes that the only person I can change is myself.
And don’t get me started on church “friends” or certain Facebook “friends.”
Action is one of the key necessities to a good friendship. And just as in any kind of relationship, one hand must reach out to meet the other hand in order for things to work out.
One of the main benefits to the painful experience of being hurt by a “friend” is using that pain to determine who one’s *real* friends are.
The best friend a person can have is, of course, oneself. If a man or woman can do the kind, loving things for him- or herself that he or she craves from another human being, well then, there is a probably a chance of being somewhat happy in this lame world.
Another good friend to have is God, but spiritual matters must be worked out by each individual. God is so … flakey … sometimes.
Three of my best friends are my cats — they do not talk, gossip or stab me in the back and they are generally always happy to see me. They offer comfort with very few strings attached.
Being a good friend to myself is a work in progess. I figure if I can finally get to really *wanting* to cook a homemade dinner just for myself, then I’ll know that I’m about two-thirds of the way there.
Recently, the indifferent “friends” in my life have helped me to appreciate the ones that have basically always been there for me — the ones I have often taken for granted.
I have a friend in my hometown of Los Angeles who I have known since the first grade. That’s fifty years. We can pick-up a conversation even after six months of dormancy and we pretty much know each other inside and out.
I called her up last night — I was feeling a tad blue and besides, we hadn’t talked since September. It doesn’t matter what we talked about … it was a mundane catching-up for the most part.
I’m kinda learning that “mundane” can be a good thing. When I left LA in the mid-1980s, I figured that I was escaping second-best and on my way to a big, bright, exciting future. I couldn’t close the backdoor quick enough.
And lots of interesting things have happened since then, but I’ve sort of discovered that there is no glimmery pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow thing out there. There are simply varying degrees of “mundane.” The happiness part comes from how one experiences and accepts the day-to-day stuff.
Anyway, last night on the phone, I was telling my friend about some of my frustrations with the world and she made an observation that only a good friend could know and say.
It was a Beatles analogy (because yes, we are that old) relating to my nature and temperment. “You’re not the jetsetting Ringo, the pop star Paul or the outspoken John,” she said. “You’ve got to remember that you’re the George Harrison part of the equation — the sensitive, thoughtful, introspective Beatle.”
And darn if that isn’t a good and true reminder.
A friend knows who we are. “Friends” have their own personal agendas.
Sometimes you just have to go back to where it all began to figure things out.
© November 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
Qui autem diligit me quoque amor meus cat.