Today I’d like to talk about friendship. However, this time I’d like to go down a different road and take a different approach to this theme. In my childhood I didn’t have many friends. To be honest I didn’t have any friends. You see reader, I grew up in a farm far from civilization and I did not come into contact with children of my age (other than the 2 cousins) until I was five and went to Kindergarten. Nevertheless, it was not until I was in fourth grade that I managed to make a friend; without counting that one friend in second grade who left to Florida but would only talk to me when she felt like it. Dramatics aside, it is safe to say I didn’t have friends or much contact with other children even though I was surrounded by them.
At a young age I was labeled weird and unapproachable, which did not bother me at all since it gave me a lot of time for reading and thinking. However, this caused me to delay the understanding of what a friend was and how a good friendship should be. Reader, you must think it so easy and might be scoffing at me as we speak, but a friendship is not as easy as you think; I’ll explain this later on. Anyhow, I managed to make a tight group of wonder gals who pretty much consisted of the Spice Girls, if the SG had a dorky girl in the group (that would be me). The group managed to survive from fourth to sixth grade. Once we went to Jr. High school, it all fell apart except me and one girl who I’ll call PH (to protect her identity).
It was through PH’s friendship that I learned what a true friendship was. She stuck to me through slightly think and sometimes on the thin. She was not very reliable when a boy was involved and she had a habit of liking who I was unless another person was present. Don’t get me wrong, she was a good girl with many redeeming qualities but they were rarely seen in our relationship unless she wanted something. It was through her constant letdowns and emotional abstractions that I learned what I wanted from my friendships.
Here reader is where I tell you what a friendship is to me and why it is difficult to find a good one. Friendship is obviously a relationship between two people; it does not go into sexual affection but it does have emotional affection. Much like a normal relationship, there is an obligation for honesty, communication and interest in maintaining said friendship. As part of a healthy friendship you must both feel comfortable with whom you are and who your friend is; and any attempt to change the other is solely based on trying to help each other to become a better person. Finally, a good friendship will withstand any trouble or fight by facing the situation as friends and talking it out (or drinking and yelling). Also, as a side note, said friends do not have to be 24/7 with you; the emotional and intellectual bond must be strong enough to withstand distance and come back as if it had never existed. You may think these things are easy to do and to maintain, but now I ask you to think back on your friends and name the ones who are willing listen to you even through its 2am; think back and name those friends who are willing to confront that rough situation you are going through and actually sit down and talk about it. I’m telling you, not many would do it.
It is all these things and many more, which I realized PH was lacking. I, being so young, decided to overlook her negative traits and hush my desires for a true friend. It was not long before we stopped seeing each other and one thing led to another and we were no longer talking. I knew she wanted to keep using me as a crutch for her problems but I no longer felt the need to carry her. It was at this time that I met a perky tomboy-ish brunette which I’ll call TH. TH was a good friend for the better part of our friendship. She didn’t like conflict but she listened to me; she had no self-esteem but she was confident of who she was and liked who I was. It was an interesting friendship while it lasted because for the first time I had someone I could really bond with. It was not forced talks about nail polish and hair highlights. It was a weird conversation about studying, becoming famous, singing songs and fighting over Benji Madden.
With her I laughed more laughs that I could count. My parents liked her, she got along with my brother and I had no problems with her; aside from her klutzy ways and her mystical power to always find a way to break something made of glass without trying, everything seemed fine. Our friendship developed after High school even though we spent the better part of those years together, it was not until we were both in college that we started to click. Those were golden years of riding in her beat up cavalier, singing to the new Jonas Brother CD, whining about how college sucked and how we were going to get out of that small town but first we would eat ice cream in Cold Stone.
TH was a friend, a really good friend until we started drifting apart. I don’t know when it happened and I don’t know how or why it happened; it just did. We were no longer a priority in each other’s lives. We were no longer sitting together having memorable moments and talking about dreams. Now we were that person we called when we were lonely and said to each other through texts “I miss you” but never made any effort to meet up. We were now sitting in awkward silence trying to find a topic we both agreed on and instead of making memories we would just relive the last time we had fun. I lost a friend, I don’t know if she also did.
Through TH I developed a need to be loved for me; to be chosen not for pity or boredom but because that person missed me and wanted to talk to me. I wanted to be the smile on her face, on anyone’s face. I wanted to be that person you would run a mile just to see because you love my quirky mannerism, my sarcastic attitude and my love for fatty foods and chocolate. I could not find that person, so I became that person. I found myself sacrificing more time and energy that I actually had in order to spend time with people I cared about. I would sit, quietly, and take emotional abuse from friends that did not care for me all because I wanted them to love me. I became a raw, itchy, needy scab that putrefied anyone I touched. Maybe I’m exaggerating but now in retrospect I realize that I was needy. More than that, I was throwing my needs into the wrong arms. TH could never love me or be the friend I wanted her to be. She was afraid of growing up, of making a stand; she disliked conflict and had a habit of running away from her emotions and her logic. I was asking too much of her, and too much of myself.
Now there is no PH or TH. They are passing memories of my life. TH does have a habit of coming back but that’s another post for another time. Now there is only me, still needy, still quirky, still willing to run a mile to reach someone in need. However, this time it’s not because I want them to like me, I run to them because I know what it’s like to be alone. I know what it’s like to break down at 2am and have no one to talk to. I know what it’s like to not have someone to share your inner most secret thoughts and just drown in them. I know what it’s like to be alone when you’re surrounded by people and to feel lonely even though someone told you they were going to be with you.
It is these reflections and realizations of my life that led me to take that definition of friendship and my desire to make a true friend and actually make it happen. I discerned the good people from the bad people in my life and was able to find a few worth keeping. The best part was that through them I learned how to value myself, how to be strong and how to stop throwing myself into the arms of disappointment. There is only but a few in this category but their contribution to my life make their worth even greater. There are times where I fall back into my old abusive ways and end up chasing old memories and dreams. They hurt but they remind me of what I left and what I have now.
I guess you need to know what you want in order to get it. More than that, you need to stand up for what you want or you’ll never get it. All the ‘friends’ I left behind hurt me, and leaving them behind hurt me more, but it’s realizing my worth and my desires which propelled me to better relationships with others and with myself. Reader, what I’m trying to say is never sell yourself short. Don’t conform to a lifestyle or relationship that you know is only hurting you. Leaving always hurts and you may regret it right after but in the long run it’s worth it. Life is a journey that you must learn to make using your own experiences and knowledge; there is no guide-book or right way. Never, and I mean never, let anyone tell you or let you feel like you are deserve less than the best.