When I was about 18, I lost a friend that I had loved like a sister due to one of the most basic girl code rules that I had thought shouldn’t take place, a guy. To make matters worse, neither of us had been involved with said guy at the time and when one friend began to suggest that my ‘best friend’ has less than stellar intentions where I was concerned, I defended her vehemently. In my book, when you bestow someone with the title of friend, it means you love this person. That you will defend them, want the best for them. Friends are some of the best family members because they are the ones you get to choose. I played this part for my best friend to my core, being placed in a position numerous times where I felt it was my duty to defend and protect this person, so of course, I wouldn’t hear ill of her and take it lightly.
When the very guy which was the root of the issues began to relay some things my best friend had been saying and doing, naively, I insisted it wasn’t true, that there might have been some mistake, even going so far as to call this person a liar and trouble maker. She (best friend) had been acting funny, but that wasn’t cause to think the worse of someone I love and had been so close with since I was 12 years old. It wasn’t in my nature to think so and I loved her.
And then, I got what I asked for. Proof. There it was, undeniably in my face that my precious friendship was one-sided, for God knows how long. This person came to my house, I went to hers, she cried on my shoulder, I cried on hers. It was rare to see one of us, without the other. I kept secrets, secrets I probably compromised my integrity in doing so, but alas, when it came down to the wire, it was just me and my friendship.
After months of simply avoiding any contact with the person (and she never reached out to me once I stopped trying), while the truth ate at me, I reached out, offering my presence and understanding in the event she wanted to talk. In case I had done something unawares, I told her I loved her and missed her, and didn’t want to throw away our friendship on a whim. The ‘best friend’s’ response had been;
“I don’t have time for haters. I’m all about making money, I’m blessed and I don’t have time for unimportant things and people.”
That day was an important day for me. I learned, that the word ‘friend’ meant different things to different people. I learned that no matter how much you may love someone, leave room for disappointment. As I proceeded to say goodbye through the simple response of “Ok.”, I knew nothing would ever be able to bring me back from that view. I deleted her from my social media, her number gone from my phone, any messages we exchanged and quite simply, carried on with my life.
Since then, I have been extremely cautious in calling a person my ‘friend’ and is most likely to refer to a person as ‘someone I know’. But alas, the Lord has been good to me since, and I’ve been able to count among my friends people who I am comfortable to call so. The other day, two such friends sent me pictures they had from years ago, pictures that would quite possibly cause me some embarrassment (not reeeaaally, but you understand) if they were to, ‘get out’. Yet, I in no way feel threatened. On any given day, I can share my best and worst, have the most intelligent or entirely embarrassingly crass conversations. We have disagreements on topics and do so with respect and dignity, and once the conversation is over, so too is our disagreement. In such a space I feel safe to be who I am, without judgment, without waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Our generation seems to revel in the ‘loner’ concept, desperate for all to believe we don’t need anyone but ourselves, that we’re broken, and everyone is out to betray us. That trust is impossible, that our guard must always be up.
I say choose better. Don’t dismiss things that matter. Don’t watch a person do something that demonstrates poor morale and justify it by saying you are friends, so they won’t do that to you. Don’t make excuses. Don’t be afraid to point out that they’ve done something wrong or isn’t doing something right. Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. If that friendship isn’t capable of withstanding honesty, is it really a friendship?
Know when to walk away. Know what you are willing to comprise, that should never be respect.
Today, best friend and I are cordial because well, maturity and after a few years, she just started speaking to me out of the blue, like nothing ever happened. As though we had simply picked up where we’d left off. I don’t hold a grudge and wish her the very best still, but I don’t count her among friends. My husband is my new best friend and ironically, one of the youngest friendships I’ve since forged at 6 years to date. Most others are now bordering the decade and 15-year mark, though there are a few young ones.
I just learned to be more selective at an early age and that sometimes, how long you’ve known someone has no bearing on your friendship. Their intentions for you makes all the difference.