Monday, March 28, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help…

...from my friends. Friendship: a topic that I feel needs some clarification and definition. There are many “tiers” of friendship in our lives. Now, I don’t mean that in an offensive way, but in a descriptive manner. There are people that are your friends for different lengths of time; you meet people in any number of ways during your life. You feel a variable degree of closeness to your friends.  Honorable, loyal, trustworthy, dedicated, loving, honest, these are some words that I would use to describe many of my friends. I believe that I am a good friend; at least I maintain quite a few friendships that enrich my life. I know that I have mentioned before that it’s not necessarily the quantity but the quality of these relationships that is most important. The payoff for you, the work you put in being a friend to someone or having friends in your life, is well worth it.

Childhood Or Long-Time Friends- These are friends that I have known for years. Our friendships were formed when our adulthood was being formed. They are people that are either a part of my daily life or we make an effort to keep in touch relatively often. If we haven’t spoken in months, when we pick up the phone to call, it’s like we talked yesterday. We can laugh about the same stories or events that happened when we were 12 or when we were 40. We can cry about things that have happened in our lifetime together that others may understand or that only these friends understand. They’re willing to listen to my troubles and celebrate my accomplishments. They often advise and encourage me, even when I haven’t asked for it. They put me in my place when necessary and allow me to have the same luxury with them. They know where the bodies are buried and have bail money if you need it. They have watched out for you in all kinds of situations as you have for them. Some of them aren’t here with us anymore, but they are watching over us always. There are those that I have maintained relationships with my whole life. There are also those that I have been blessed to reconnect with on Facebook. Either way, they inspire me, remind me of where I have been and where I have yet to go.

Work Friends- These are people that I currently work with, have worked with, keep in touch with or maybe not. Besides sleeping, when you are employed full-time, you spend more time with your co-workers, than you do with a significant other. 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. They put up with your moods – good or bad, and they expect you to do the same for them. Sometimes you have dinner or see a movie outside of work; sometimes you don’t. You spend a lot of time making plans to do stuff, but nothing ever materializes. Not for lack of trying or planning, I think things tend to fizzle out because of all the time you already spend together. Some days, you can’t imagine your life without them. Other days, you can’t wait to get away from them. Every day, you see them and you adjust. I have good people that I currently work with. I have good people that I used to work with. When I think of them and the time we spent together, it makes me smile. I miss them. I look forward to seeing my current co-workers and miss them if they aren’t around for a spell. It’s good to work with intelligent people who live a variety of lifestyles. Our diversity makes us interesting and helps us grow.

Frenemies- You know who they are; we all have them. They are people who are in your life for necessity. You may have started out as friends, but events or one particular incident may have occurred to help you realize, “Whoa, wait a second!” They might be friends or relatives of a close friend. They might be someone that you work with. They might even be a relative of yours. In any case, these are people that, for whatever reason, are necessary in your life that you can’t get rid of. You have to deal with them. If they are doing you harm on a regular basis, mentally or emotionally, I’m not suggesting that you suffer through it. Those would be relationships that are too toxic to maintain and you should jettison from your life. I’m talking about playing well with others. Smiling and being social, but watching your back and their steps. I have often made the mistake of thinking that someone is my friend. I have been slapped right in the face with the reality of the situation. Again, a growth and learning process – keep your friends close, but your frenemies closer; they will do you more harm than a known enemy if you let them. Protect yourself, your feelings, your loving nature, and your heart.

My Girls- I have several groups of girlfriends. We are grouped together for many different reasons. There are my “Mom” friends. These would be the mothers of my children’s friends, women who I have a connection with because we were planning and organizing the lives of our kids. Once our kids grew up, some of these relationships did too. What is sad is that there were women I thought were really my friends. But our kids grew up and apart, then so did we. I guess all we really had in common was our children. I didn’t think so at the time, but I have since learned better.

There are my “Christmas/Pool Party” friends. These are the gals that I have been spending the first Saturday of December and the second Saturday after July 4th with for 20+ years. There was a base group of girls that have been together since they were young kids that has morphed over the years into something awesome. Some have come and gone; this group is not for the faint-hearted! During the 12-24 hours that we spend together twice a year, we are generally laughing, talking, drinking, eating, dancing, singing and cultivating this bond of friendship. I see some of these 16 or so girls at other times during the year, but nothing beats these two occasions. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else or with anybody else on those days. These times are the highlight of my year.

There are my “girlfriends.” These are women who could fit into any of the categories I have previously discussed at any given time but are different too. Our relationships ebb and flow with continuity I am grateful for. We talk often and listen to each other. When times are good or bad or when we are happy or sad, there is always an ear to listen and sympathize. There is a kick in the butt when you need it or a hug when that kick doesn’t seem to be working.  They are gals that I can call in advance or at the last minute for a movie, a drink, dinner, a visit, whatever strikes our fancy. We have lots in common and are different too. It’s the commonality and diversity that keeps things interesting. There are a few that I am very, very close to. They understand me sometimes better than I understand myself. They offer a clarity that comes from both the outside and inside. They know me.

Facebook Friends- These would be your social network friends. They may be people that you actually know or only know on Facebook. If you have someone or something to promote, these friends will help you. If you post a status or music about how you are feeling or how your day is going, some will like it. They may even comment on it. They live in other states, other countries even, but are checking often to see how their friends or connections are doing. Thanks to my virtual event, my Facebook friends are growing. It is amazing to me the compassion and the caring that has flowed across the lines. The sharing of information about different topics and our lives has been very fulfilling and educational. It is helping me grow both as a person and as a friend. What did we all do before Facebook?

Friendship. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. It’s wonderful to reach out and have someone there for you when you do. It’s also wonderful to be the person who is needed. As human beings, we interact with each other every single day of our lives. It’s the way you choose to relate that helps others learn about you and your interests. Friends are precious…keep them close to your heart…with love.

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