Do you ever pause and take stock of your friendship bank? Have you pondered the character and depth of the people who are in your life for one reason or another? Do you feel confident you have nurtured and coddled your best relationships? Are you neglecting a friend or two?
Over the years, my relationships with my friends has certainly morphed and changed, not unlike the colors of a chameleon. I sit and wonder: does time change relationships or is it simply an occurrence of people changing over time, myself included?
I moved around quite a bit as a young child until I was thirteen and settled here in Massachusetts. I cannot say that I have a friend from the second grade that I am still super tight with in this present day. Thankfully, social media forums like Facebook have allowed me the opportunity to reconnect with some grade school friends from Oklahoma, so that is a unique treat and often affords me warm, delicious and tasty morsels of childhood memories every now and then.
I have my lifetime friends from age thirteen on – those friends that regardless of how frequently we talk; I know that if I pick up the phone and call them in distress, they would be there for me in a flash. Sometimes weeks pass by in our busy lives that we do not connect in some form, however, I do know that our relationship is concrete enough to withstand the brief delays in communication. Even in 2013, a brief text conversation allows us the connection of friendship and affords the ability to gently push aside the guilt for not having enough time.
In my early thirties, I struggled greatly with one-sided friendships. I queried myself relentlessly about why so-and-so always wanted and needed something from me. Yet, so-and-so rarely gave back in return. As a giving (and giving and giving and giving) person, my heart stung and my brain could not comprehend the short end of the stick in return. I exhausted myself in providing friendship and stressing about the emptiness I could not fill.
Nearing my forties, and after a life changing and ever so cliché cancer battle, I literally do not sweat the small stuff. Sometimes, we need to clear the clutter from our lives, right? A regular inventory check of friendships has become a new type of “spring cleaning” if you will. I love people. I do. I love hearing all the stories, the trials and tribulations of others, the depth of character from various families, the parental diatribes, and the stuff that comes along with living life. However, I also want quality over quantity - my time has to count these days. As many working moms, we do not get much time away from our family responsibilities, therefore, time spent with people outside of the inhabitants of my household has to be worth it.
My children comment regularly on how many acquaintances I have <and usually chastise me for not being able to go anywhere without talking endlessly with someone…..> but I have to stop and consider at times, am I, myself, nurturing all of these relationships? Are some acquaintances actually friends that need some more of me? Are some of these friends feeling neglected by me? Do I need take inventory on my own personal contributions to these relationships?
A couple of people have indeed called me out on not being involved enough with them. I immediately feel horrible for not being there when they needed me; shame on me for not making the time regardless of my insanely full schedule. However, when I come back down off my panic pole, I realize that these same folks have not afforded the same effort that they accuse me of failing. Interesting. What do I do from here?
Let’s bring it back to center, people.
Stepping back from my so-called inventory of friends, I analyze even deeper and I delve further into my own character pool….what do I want from my friends?
Basically, I want friends to laugh with. Laughter and silliness is indeed still the best medicine. I love game nights where rampant laughter has caused sore abs and tight jaws the day after an inappropriate game of “Things” or “Telestrations”. Friends who will laugh AT me when I get a rare night out and suddenly become a super-charged Energizer Bunny who may make quite a fool of herself.
I want friends who know I am full-blown nuts and love me more for it. I want absolutely insane friends who encourage me to be more of a lunatic and entice me into actions I may (or may not) regret. I want friends who will surpass me in my attempts to cram my life full of memories and out of the box ways to get there.
I want friends who simply take a moment to think of me and send me a text with a “Hey, how are you?” or an “OMG, I just farted so loud my cat jumped!” or a “My child just had the best game of his/her life!” or a “Bec, I need your help, my mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer, would you talk to her?”
I want friends who say let’s get together for a pumpkin beer tomorrow, or let’s go for a hike to be followed by a pumpkin beer. (Tee hee, yes, I like pumpkin beer). I also like friends who say, "I tried kale today and it was not bad but what else do I do with it?"
I want friends who are not afraid to open up and tell me just how much their husband is driving them nuts this week, or perhaps, their child is struggling in school or with a bully. I want a friend to say, I cannot handle the stress of my life right now and I have just knocked down an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s – help me.
Now that I have compiled my list of a million desires from my friends, I will ensure that I offer some of the same to those I call my friends. I will thank each and every one of you for being my friend, regardless of capacity or “depth” in friendship. I will only hope that I provide you with laughter, insanity, thoughtfulness, an ear <or probably two in my case since both ears do not quite work right>, and last but not least my heart.