F-Word Friday: Friendship

I spent nearly an hour talking to one of my best friends this morning, and it made my day even better.  We live in different time zones and have 7 children between us, so talking on the phone can be challenging.  What I love is that even if it has been awhile, we can pick up and just talk.  I do not have this kind of friendship with many people, so I really value this.  For this Friday, I want to talk about friendships.

“If you have one true friend, you have more than your share.”   – Thomas Fuller

Why do we make friends with others?  Humans need interaction with others to survive and thrive.  We are given our family by genetics and birth, but we choose and make friends for companionship.  According to Psychology Today, there are 4 characteristics of friendship:  common interests, history, common values, and equality.  When I see this, I think of this as acquaintances more than friends.  I have many acquaintances:  we like the same foods or books, we have known each other for an extended period of time, we see each other frequently or have kids the same age, etc.  To me, calling someone a friend is defining that person as someone you can spend great amounts of time with.  With social media, it is so easy to define ourselves by our friends or followers, and these numbers are not reliable indicators of your number of true friends.  This is a person who you would tell more intimate details about your life to or that you could share you emotions with.  You could see yourself planning elements of your lives together or including that person routinely in your life.  A friend is someone who is loyal, trustworthy, and empathetic, and you must be willing to give these same things to that person.  Friendship must be reciprocal and shared.

I have some amazing friends, but the number is not astronomical.  In every place we have lived, I have connected with at least a few people who impacted my life, struggled with me, supported me, and whom I still maintain contact with long distance.  My first military friend, Becca, was amazing to me.  She taught me everything I needed to know about being a wife and TACP spouse.  She let me sleep at her house when I was locked out of it on the weekend, and she drove me to the hospital when I was pregnant and in pain.  She even flew me down to Texas to see her after she moved!  My friend Lauren is nearly my clone.  The first time our families had dinner, we had so much in common that it was quite scary.  She and I can be sarcastic and borderline offensive to one another, and we get it.  We share a love of books and coffee, and we’ve seen each other in some pretty vulnerable points.  She’s also my favorite person to random text things.  🙂  I have other friends, too many to name, that if I called and needed help, they would do whatever they could feasibly do to help.  These people become like family to you, especially when you all live far from family – you make your own.

Now, for the big one – BEST friends.  It feels weird to talk about this as an adult, as if this is something reserved for childhood.  However, I have learned that best friends are rare and a special kind of friendship.  Best friends are the people who know you the most.  You can let your guard down with them and be vulnerable/honest/scared/a hot mess.  This is the person you can call at 3 a.m. and they will not only be there to help you, they will do whatever it takes.  They know your entire family, they know what you are thinking even as you do, and they are the people you just cannot imagine your life without.  As a kid and young adult, I was hesitant to even assign the term “best friend” to anyone.  I tend to keep my feelings and thoughts to myself and do not like to feel vulnerable.  Call it pride, arrogance, or a defense mechanism since I am never in one place for long, but it is difficult for me to really let someone into my whole life.  However, there are a few of them, and I feel lucky to have them:

– my mom:  I’ve been saying she is my best friend since I was 14 years old.  I can tell her nearly anything (because there are always a few things that no one tells their mom), she has known me since birth, she has seen me at the highest of highs and lowest of lows, and she’s watched me give birth.  I can call her for anything, and she would be available. I love her dearly.

– Andy:  I’m going to put a strong opinion out there – your spouse should be a best friend.  He or she does not have to be the only one, but they should be one of them.  This is the person you chose to spend your life with, and they should know you as intimately as possible.  I’ve been with Andy since I was almost 17 years old.  He’s watched me grow and change in every possible way, he’s supported me in school and life, he isn’t afraid to be honest with me and argue back when I’m being difficult, he’s not only given me 4 children but been there for all the joyful and awful parts of their births….there are a million reasons why he is my best friend.

my person– Meredith:  I hope everyone gets a friend like Meredith.  Do you ever have a person that you just cannot imagine not knowing?  You know, your person?  That is Meredith to me.  We met in Italy and were acquaintances.  I liked her, she liked me, but we were in different places in our lives.  We reconnected a year later, ended up moving to Germany together, and the rest is history.  We can nearly complete each other’s sentences.  She knows how I think and feel, even the things I do not want people to know.  She’s seen me having an anxiety attack and did not run away, and I’ve seen her with a bad hair dye job (for girls, that is pretty serious).  She and I have welcomed 4 kids between us and have been supportive through good and bad.  She lived right up the street from me, which was amazing.  We’ve been lost in foreign cities, taken care of each other, fought with each other, and we are still here.  I miss her all the time.

– My sisters:  I’ve said this before – I love all my siblings more than I can even say.  I’m the oldest, so I have the best memories of all of them.  They are all crazy, but so am I, so we fit together.  However, my sisters and I are very close.  When you are all close in age, you can either love or hate each other, and I’m happy to say that we love each other.  We did so many things together growing up, shared good and bad experiences, and fought like WWE Divas.  We borrowed/stole each other’s clothes, schemed against our parents, saved each other from punishments, laughed and cried together, and we still do.  My sister Jessica was the first person I called when I found out I was pregnant at 18; my sister Elizabeth and I would quote “Wayne’s World” to each other at night to fall asleep.  We even have a sister tattoo!  No matter where I am or what is going on, they are my sisters. I love them no matter what.

My best friends and my real friends are amazing – yes, I said it again.  It is important to have people in your life that you can love and who can love you.

My point, and something I have pondered many times in my adult life, is that real friendship is not easy.  It is frustrating, difficult, time consuming, but rewarding.  Humans need friendship and companionship to better learn about the world and cultures, to empathize with others, to connect with and to share with.  I find friendship to be challenging but so worth it, even if my friends are not necessarily close in proximity.  True friends are rare, and those are the ones I value.  If you are my friend and reading this, thank you!

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