I’ve been thinking lately about the significance of friendship in my life.
I have of course lost friendships along the way, both having grown apart and having had to cut ties with those who no longer align with who I am or the idea of friendship that I have. I’m not sure I have always realised how fortunate I am to be surrounded by healthy relationships.
I would like to think I'm a good friend;
I hope I am because my friends are so incredibly important to me. They are the people who I genuinely believe I was meant to meet and navigate my way through life with. I often wonder why I find being a friend far easier than being in an intimate relationship and why I feel safer in them. But I think it is important we all look at what makes a good friendship and how we cultivate those in our lives. Whilst also acknowledging that friendships are subjective in that what works for some doesn’t for others and maybe those who remain in our life, do so because their values, in regards to friendship, align with our own.
I think the foundation is trust.
I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever in my friends, the real ones, that they will show up when I need them, because they never have failed to before. And it might not look like physically showing up; showing up takes all forms whether it is over the phone or a well-timed hug. They have simply never failed me, and I would love to think they feel the same way about me. My friendships have never required us to be in each other’s pockets we can go months without physically seeing each other, without an obligation attached. But still there remains a deep knowing that we are not alone, ever. We are supported and loved, always. It’s an appreciation for each other, for the lives we lead, and acknowledging we don’t always have to agree on everything but there is respect for each other’s choices and stories.
Trust is built over time when people show up when we most need them,
i.e. when we have had our heartbroken or we didn’t get a job. But as I have grown, I have come to understand that another indicator as to who has your best interests at heart is looking at who is there for you when you succeed. Who understands the work you have put in, the doubts you have had about yourself and how many times you got in your own way, and then claps the loudest when you achieve your goals with no element of jealousy or envy, but with pure joy for what you have achieved. Who understands that everything in life is temporary and so doesn’t allow you to brush over or miss this moment and instead makes you stand up and celebrate. This is what it means to show up too and I have had some people unable to do this, from my experience, it hurts a lot.
I also have an unshakeable belief in my friend’s goals and dreams, especially when they don’t feel it themselves.
A very close friend of mine had a difficult time conceiving, something which hadn’t been an issue for me. I could feel her pain and disappointment, her worry and anxiety, and yet even during this time, she never faltered in showing up for me when I had my babies. And, in exactly the same way, I showed up for her each time a month rolled around and she got her period. I could never know the depth of her struggle, but I could see the hope leave her body and I watched her try to find her feet in a situation she never anticipated to be in. It was painful, because I love her very much and I wanted to fix it. But I couldn’t, she couldn’t, and whilst in hindsight I have come to realise that it’s neither possible nor is it my job to fix things, it doesn’t take away the urge. I remember one day she had come over to visit and said to me she had to accept that this might not happen for her and make peace with it. Whilst I think this was an important place for her to get to, to be able to manage her emotions and well-being, I also knew it came with a tonne of sadness and some guilt in feeling like she was letting go of a dream. We sat for a bit and then I told her she had more than every right to let go, to surrender and to find peace in acceptance of any number outcomes and she could let go of the guilt because when she could not muster the energy to be optimistic, to put out into the universe that this was her time, or to believe each month that this could be the one, that she could pop that burden down, because I would always hold it. That she could let go of the guilt and to no longer be hopeful, because there was and would always be another person on the planet believing for her, never doubting and constantly hopeful on the inevitability of her family she so longed for.
My darling friend went on to have her family and believe me when I say, that moment was sweet. She is also the friend who talked me through the worst days of my life; we laugh now about when I had found myself going through a terrible time and unable to even eat, she would request updates as to how much of a banana I had managed to get through that day. She has collected my children from nursery, shown up when I told her it wasn’t necessary and even picked up medication when I have found myself floored by life. I would simply not be in the place I am without her. And I credit us both, because I know this has been cultivated over time by both of us, with no motivation other than to see each other rise and flourish in all areas of life, to hold each other and carry the burdens when needed, and hold standing ovations when the dreams come to fruition.
When I look back at the friendships that haven’t lasted, I can see now that whilst those people do not remain in my life, I am grateful for them.
Not only because of the people they were and the memories shared, but because they and the friendships themselves, even the ending of them, have shaped who I am and how I show up for the people who remain. I hold no malice, and I will hold space and hope that if they ever find themselves struggling with life that they have cultivated relationships with people who will help them share the load, for no other reason than they love them for exactly who they are, in whatever season they may find themselves in.
I have come to the conclusion that, in my own experiences, these friendships have been far superior to any relationship, because friendships, the true ones, don’t feel transactional. We aren’t connected for fear of being alone, we aren’t tolerating behaviours; we are showing up fully as ourselves and being wholly accepted for it. I can say that whilst I haven’t experienced that in a relationship, I’m not even sad about it because I understand how very rare it is to have the friendships that I do, so instead, I’ll be grateful for those.