On the Topic of Friendships

Everyone on this Earth has people. Some have more people than others, some prefer more solitude than company. But I suspect that the vast majority of souls breathing in and out on this Earth have at least some people.

They say you can choose your friends, but not your family. I started thinking about all the people I’ve known in my lifetime who I have called friends. And that got me to wondering what it is about some people that makes them friends – how you can meet someone for the first time and feel as though you’ve known them all your life or know someone all your life and never really feel that close to them. Why do some “stick” (for lack of a better word) and some fall by the wayside? Why can I walk into a room full of people – strangers to me – and feel a sense of familiarity about one, but not the other, without knowing them at all? And why are some still there after 36 years and some gone after only a few seasons?

SOooo…I sent out an email several years ago to see what my friends thought it was all about. Below is a condensed version (because I seem to surround myself with people like me who love words – imagine that!) of thier thoughts on the subject. (As an aside? Some are the very same people whose paths diverged and continued in a different direction as mine – I rarely, if ever, talk to or see them anymore.)

Peace,

~me Solitary Comforts

She Said:

I suppose I’ve had a lot of friends over the years, many of whom have come and gone. When I was single I had friends who had common interests and were in similar situations and have not been able to keep up with them. As my life situation has changed (marriage, house, child), my time is more limited and I find that I am only keeping up with those with whom I have a real connection. They are supportive, loyal friends who are easy to talk to. And if time passes and we haven’t spoken for a while, we can always just pick up right where we left off. I’m not sure why there are some people you can do that with and others you can’t. I think that somehow we just connect with certain people, understand where they’re coming from and not others. Not sure what makes that connection happen with some people and not others. I guess some people are just kindred spirits.

He Said:

I find questions like this to be an examination of motives, fears, selfishness,and intentions.

I have meet over the years thousand of people which I have had friendship and relations. They have been from all around the country and the world. I have been very blessed and fortunate to have had contact with all of them.

Most of the relationships (and when I refer to relationships, I mean friendships) have been lasting, but not very intimate. Some were with people I would see almost everyday and some with people that would only be in town for a month at a time… I grew up in a resort area where families would come to town every year for a certain period of time for their family vacations. Let me simplify this: I have had lots of friends through out the years.

Now you can see, without going into the whole of the inventory, the searching that I have had to do in trying to answer this question. The answer is simple: I just don’t really know!!!!

… Looking back the people that were the closest or have remained in my heart the most have been people that I shared some form of growth with. Whether it was spiritual, psychological, educational, or physical, some sort of growth was there. Sharing of myself was a great key to this… And the wheel goes round …

She Said:

I’ll tell you one thing your email did for me: it made me call up my dear friends and so was able to talk to them all in a day!

She Said:

Hmmm…this may be a coffee vapor topic. Isn’t it interesting? You always seem to be surrounded by people, friends, but don’t feel a connection? Quite frankly, I think this is typical and common. We have a small circle of “friends” and a larger circle of “companions”. But I think how you FEEL about those people makes the difference on which side you are on.

Ask yourself, “would (blank) do anything I asked if I needed to?”. I think you may have more “friends” than you know.

Being a friend also takes work. I know that I can call you…to ask various and sundry things… but I also know that you work two jobs and have two school age kids. You know that I am the mother of two school age kids and the director of a brand new center, but you also know that you can count on me as Emergency contact for your school age kids. Our friendship remains intact, while the time we spend together is virtually non-existant due to circumstances – the places where we are in our lives. Sometime in the future, you may be at a different PLACE with your relationships with “companions” so that they become friends.

But now I feel that I’ve gotten off on a tangent – what was the question again? …

I think a soulmate-type persona would be someone who challenges you to be better; who knows your weaknesses and looks beyond them; who is on the same “level” as you in life and therefore wants to move onward and upward with you; someone you can be completely honest with without fear.

She Said:

Oh God,L! What you’re going to get here is misspelled honest-as-i-can-get stream of consciousness.

People I have as friends (can count on one hand) and those I want for friends (quite a few more) are:

  • people who love me (and treat me like they do)
  • people who want what I want (helping me to justify my wants)
  • people who have what I want (and are willin to share it with me)
  • people who let me do things for them (even if they don’t particularly want it done)
  • people who encourage me to do things I would never take on myself (no matter how much I whine)

In short, mostly folks that I think have something for ME.

But every now and then, and you touched on it, there’s someone I run across for which none of these things seem to apply—perfect stranger, nobody special, nothing in common really—it just seems that I’ve either known them BEFORE or God WANTS me to know them. And I’m drawn. Past that, I try to be liked, and if I think it might be taking, then I try to be a good friend (but I’m still just a beginner.)

Thanks for the mail. It’s nice to know that maybe I’m not the only one.

She Said:

Wow.You don’t want much do you?

How do I define friendship?  What attracted me to those people?  Because I waited so long to get and stay sober nearly all of my friendships are of 6 years or less variety. and I don’t know what it is other than to describe it as a chemical spark or Providence stepping in if you will and saying “Yes, (my child), this one.”

She Said:

Thanks for asking.

I think shared experiences and a desire to stay connected with that person because of what they “bring to the table” starts friendships.

When a person is open with another person, acts friendly/nice/kind, or performs acts of kindness and thoughfulness and respect, the relationship grows and becomes more cemented.  Over time, this forms a bond of friendship.

If the other person in the relationship doesn’t offend or hurt the other, then the relationship will continue on. When one offends the other, the friendship can be salvaged by forgiveness, which may or may not be asked for by the one who did the offending. If the “offending party” asks for forgiveness, then it’s more likely that the relationship continues.

I also think some people start off with a bond that is there at the instant of initial meeting, as if they know that they are supposed to be friends. I don’t really know why this automatic attraction is there. It has happened to me, and it’s as if something in someone’s personality and even appearance attracts the other person. I don’t know if it’s the other person smiling, being open thru words or body language, or that person being interested in knowing me, or what (maybe all of that & more); but there’s an element of attractiveness that is somewhat irresistible and probably Divine that’s present.

HE Said:

This is definitely an intriguing question or group of wanderings that have made me think heavily about people in my life past present and future. I’m not sure where I’m gonna end up with this but here goes…

When I started to think about what makes a friend or what brings “friends” together, I became a little sad. I thought, as you did, about how few there really were. About just how small the number of people in my life that are true friends that as you put it have “stuck”. I can definitely count them on one hand and that probably is a little bit of over kill.

I guess I would first have to make a feeble attempt at defining what a “true” friend is. I guess this is ultimately subjective and individual as each person is sure to cherish certain traits or characteristics or values or virtues or whatever you choose to call it more than others.

But, I do believe there are some “universal absolutes” we all recognize as admirable qualities of character and these would probably be good places to start. Things like honesty, loyalty, courage, intelligence, humor as well as other different abilities are all desired attributes of our acquaintances, but as far as people we choose to be close to us and confide our closest secrets to and actually let become part of our families this is not always enough.

My idea of what a “friend” is has changed drastically as of late. Not too long ago I surrounded myself with people like me – scared, confused little children who had little knowledge of real life but pretended to know it all. I thought I had the best friends in the world, and thought I was the best friend I could be. “Ride ‘til we die!” A bunch of little thugs well on their way to the grave or the cell block (a lot of my so called friends are exactly in those places).

I remember one Sunday after drinking all day at Hooters me and a couple of my guy friends and one girl friend decide it would be a great idea to do a beer run – long story short it went really wrong and wound up being armed robbery. They got caught a few days later but they never gave me or the girl up to the police although we were there, it was my car, and I was driving (which no doubt would have lightened their sentence). That was my idea of what friends were. That was loyalty! They spent time in prison “for me” and never once used my guilt against me. I thought those were true friends.

How wrong was I? True friends would have never been accomplices to my crime in the first place. My true friends in those times were the ones who tried to help me and keep me from doing such things and I eventually pushed them away by continuing to behave the way I did and treating them the way I did by manipulating them and using them.

But I digress… I have established that essentially I have no idea what makes a friend a friend, but I am either attempting to discover this for myself or b.s.’ing you and myself into believing I know something I don’t, so bear with me.

I have begun to see what being a “friend” is, and it isn’t always what one would think. It isn’t always nice or pretty or polite or even fun. I have found that for me the ones that I have chosen to stick and that have likewise chosen me to stick care less about the superficial b.s. that so many think is important and truly care more about the welfare or each other. They don’t mind hurting one another if it will be for the best. Honesty is what the relationship must rely upon. There has to be ultimate comfort and candidness. You need to feel like you can say anything without losing your friend.

Now don’t get me wrong – there has to be some way of meeting, someway of getting together, a common ground, like interests. But after all of that, the ones that remain and become eternal and become like family are the ones who for lack of better language can get under the surface of you and you of them. It has to mutual and it has to be real. You have to share each others’ soul in a matter of speaking.

I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying or if I even understand it. I just know that I never made a real connection with another person before in my life until I got sober (including family). I wasn’t capable. I didn’t know how. I was ill equipped. Now I’m fully capable because of a spiritual connection. The connections I’ve made recently are tremendous and although only a few, I’m sure, will stand the test of time, I am grateful to be able to make them none the less, because even though they may not be of the permanent variety, they are real and I get to participate fully, which is new for me. Thanks for such a thought provoking subject.

Peace.

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2 Responses

  1. ha, coffee vapour topic? no. rather deep and interesting i think. friends are people who stick by you and whom you stick by, no matter if good or bad. and if bad, you make them aware, without judgment or threats. and that’s how it’s accepted and understood. and mostly it those who inspire and uplift you, and who love and appreciate you just as you are, and want the best for themselves and for you…

  2. My, what a thoughtful and thought provoking entry. I am new here, but if you post such things as this on a regular basis, I’ll be a regular visitor for certain!

    Tom

    Thanks, Tom! I can’t promise “regular” as life seems to have different ideas for me lately (not that I’m complaining!), but I try. Maybe the better bet in the interim would be clicking on tags? But I appreciate the feedback immensely! I LOVE getting other people’s perceptions 🙂

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