What About Your Friends

I'm an unabashed TLC stan. They are my favorite musical act/group of all time. Period. It is my opinion that Left-Eye is one of the BEST entertainers of my time. Ok. That has little to do with my post, but when I got the inspiration for it, of course the first thing I thought of was the song What About Your Friends.

Ok. So what about 'em? In a previous post, I mentioned that family is different from friends because friends we choose to let in our world and based on some of our choices, we don't like ourselves very much. Just yesterday I was talking to a friend about her situation with another girl. Turns out someone she considered her best friend had been talking badly about her behind her back. She made rude and inappropriate comments about my friend's personal life, including her hygiene (which, as a female, is not something you want questioned). My friend went on to say that it hurt her most that she had gone all this time believing this girl was her friend and she had even put herself on the line for this girl, only to find out that all along this girl had been just playing around with their friendship.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou. To paraphrase, she says "When people try to show you who they are, believe them the first time." I believe that at the end of every relationship, especially the ones that end traumatically, one should take the time to re-evaluate what happened and what they're supposed to learn. It seems to me that to go through the heartache and pain we all do where relationships are concerned, and to get NOTHING from it is a waste of our time. If you've got to get your heart broken, you might as well learn something about yourself from it. But as I've put that into practice, there's something else I notice always stands out: the "told ya so" moment. There is always one instance I can recall that makes me feel like the ending had been laid out for me from the beginning.

If you've ever been a young girl in high school, then you know what a time that can be. High school, for many, is a great time but with those great times comes a lot of, well... drama. High school is what Hollywood movies hope to be. Dramatic, comedic, tragic and at times, dark. While movies are typically only one or the other, high school tends to be all of this at any given time. I became close with a girl (who I feel like is a repeating character in the story of my life) who was not at all like me. As I think back on how our friendship started, I just can't figure out where it came from. Whatever the reason, by our Senior year, she and I had become close, despite many tense moments/situations. She and I spent a lot of time together. There came a point where people expected to see us together and would ask about the others whereabouts if we were spotted alone.

The summer after our last year in high school, we both worked a day camp. In the middle of the camp she quit talking to me. And would not take or return my phone calls for months after. We did speak via instant messenger at some point later that year, my feeble attempt to rekindle the friendship and find out what happened, but she shut me down quickly, letting me know she just didn't feel comfortable talking to me anymore.

As I thought back over our friendship there were a lot of things that were illuminated, but the primary one was that she had shown her true colors to me time and time again, but I wanted to believe that I was different. So I did and I got burned and almost lost a real friend in the process. The way she treated me at the end of our high school career was almost exactly how she had treated a mutual friend and I watched her do it. So why was I so surprised when just a few months later she did it to me too? I don't know, but it's akin to the girl who is surprised that the man she stole from another girl, cheats on her. Or the person who is surprised that her boyfriend lied to her when she had helped him lie to so many others. "If they'll do it with you, they'll do it to you."

I think the bad thing about friendships that end sourly is that unlike relationships where in the back of our minds we know things could be over at any moment given the right set of circumstances, with friendships, we go into them, especially as we get older, sub-consciously expecting them to go the distance. Friendships really take time to nurture and grow. There's got to be equal effort from both sides or it turns into a big mess. Friendships, I think, are under-valued in our society. We have become so much a "me" society where it's all about what we want and what we need that we don't think about what it means to have a real friendship.

Another friend of mine (J) is cool with a co-worker (M) who recently informed her that J is her (M's) best friend. J and I had a conversation about M and while M seems like a great person, it's also obvious that she does not have a lot of friends and latches on to whomever seems like a good person. It's almost like she's so desperate for friends she runs them away. When I think about the people I consider my close or best friends, I can't recall a moment where I declared them such. It's something we fell into. It was a mutual thing that we didn't need to talk about. The secrets shared, the advice exchanged, the laughs given and all the other things that happen in a good friendship were enough for us to know, without declaration, that we were friends. Close friends.

I'm not saying that M's declaration of friendship nullifies it, I'm saying that to need to declare it suggests a lot. Romance is a big step. So I think declaration of the jump from friendship to romance is necessary... but friendships are so easy to create that just letting them happen is enough. It's the maintenance part that's hard. Especially when distance shows up. Unlike romantic relationships, friendships can withstand distance, but it takes work and commitment to the friendship. It also takes acceptance that there will be lull points -- times where you may not speak for months on end, but knowing that when you do get back together, it'll be like you never let up.

I think friendships are the glue that hold most people together. They keep us sane and support us when we get weak. To know that as individuals we get to pick who comprises our glue is a good feeling, but too many of us take it lightly. Good friends have good friends.


One Man’s Opinion said...

First of all, I hate the friendship leach. Those people whose friendship is so aggressive it is paramont to rape. They just take it from you if you want it or not.
I live by this motto, "Everyone is not your friend.' Just because someone smiles in your face and holds a conversation with you does not mean they have your best interest in mind, nor does it make them your friends. If you are like me and hold off on friendship. If you take the time to truly observe how some so called friends talk about their other friends behind their backs, then you will know......I have a circle of close friend that I am devoted to and protective of. Every now and again they bring a new person into the group and i'm like, "who is this person? Why weren't they run by me?" My friends call my cynical and I end up warming up to the guy or girl and then they do something to someone in the group and are pushed away...AFTER I HAVE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO THEM. Then I am expected to cut ties with them as well. I am always right in these matters. You just can't let random viruses into your circle. Sure you can invite people to vistit but you can't let them stay.

A.Smith said...

I'm super wary of friendship leeches, too. As a matter of fact, I've been known to not only cut off a leech, but also to back away from whomever introduced them to me.

I don't let people in my circle, I'm like you OMO, I have a group of people that I'm protective of and devoted to and that's about it. That group hasn't changed much in the last 3-4 years. I'm all about meeting new people, but I'm not all about being BFF with every Jane and John Doe I meet.

I am open to allowing a person a chance to wiggle themselves into my inner-circle, but it takes work and most people just don't want to do it and I'm super-ok with that.

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