I was sick with a terrible cold and had to cancel our lunch date. She offered to bring me soup. I declined. So instead she mailed me a Trader Joe’s box of soothing ginger and turmeric tea.
These are the friendships you hang on to. You cherish. You foster. You invest.
The older I get the less clinched-fist I have become about friendship. I used to hold very tightly onto people with whom I felt I had a common bond. When they didn’t have time for me, I clinched tighter. I must admit I have had a few beggy friendships in my life. Perhaps you have experienced those kinds of friendships too.
But I am unclenching my fist more and more as the years pass. Not only with friendships but also with family members. It is important to me that people regularly step into my life and are willing to get messy alongside me. It is equally important that they allow me to do the same for them. And yet there have been times in the past that I catch myself mentally ‘begging’ and emotionally clinging to the What Was. I am learning, however, that perhaps there are things happening in those peoples lives that limit their involvement with me. That maybe it has something to do with an issue greater than our friendship. And with that recognition, I reluctantly but gently step aside.
It took me a while to get to the place where I was not bitter about that retreat. But on my good days I have a wider understanding that we are all fighting struggles of our own. My best-friend-who-doesn’t-know-me, Anne Lamott, commented recently that “we all have the same stuff, just different details.” Oh how very true.
That said, we only have so much energy to give and need to be resourceful about where we invest time, money, and emotional connection. And so those people, like my friend Monica that I mentioned above, who continually step into my life and walk next to me and allow me to journey next to them in their messiness – that is where I choose to invest. That is where I am intentional in friendship building.
Unfortunately, I can readily think of people with whom I was not a good friend. And I have regrets. But I can’t fix those past relationships so I choose to be a better friend to the handful of people I have in my life currently.
Adult friendship can be difficult, can’t it? It seemed easier when you could pass a note at recess: ‘Are you my friend? Check one: Yes-No-Maybe’ There are many people with whom we are acquaintance-friends. Many would blame social media for the downfall of authentic relationships, but I have some close friends that I met online, and I am thankful and appreciative for them. I don’t think ‘social media friendships’ all exist at a surface level. Friendship can happen anywhere where two people’s paths were intended to cross.
I have spent a great deal of my adult life wanting the Oprah-Gayle, call-me-every-day friendships, but I have learned over time to be deeply thankful in this busy, complicated existence for the lovely ginger-turmeric tea friendships that shine so brilliantly in my world.