Saturday, 6 December 2014

Things I'm still learning about friendship

 I’ve fallen out with friends before. Probably the most significant were all the way back in elementary and high school. When girls are just learning how to be in relationship with each other amidst the competition placed in our way. Competition to be pretty and popular, to make the teams, to achieve good grades, to win the boys’ attention. How were we supposed to learn to be loving with each other when our very social survival depended on others failing?
That’s when I first learned to not fully trust my girlfriends.
I still remember the day in the gym at lunch. We were standing on the wall watching the boys play basketball or volleyball. The giggled whispers of my on/off friends beside me and their not-so-inconspicuous shifting away. Not knowing what I had done to deserve being left behind; broken trust which left scars far deeper then I realized or could name until 20 years later.
Since then I have found friendships that brought a specific lesson into my life; friendships that lasted through a certain experience – people who came in and out of my life with an ease that increased with each good bye. And friendships that are surviving time and distance, gaining depth and maturity as the years go by. But many of these have been fraught with an underlying suspicion, a lack of complete trust for genuineness and equal reciprocation. I have learned to quiet the doubts, or at least to soften their pain with resilience, independence, and by being my own best friend.
I give of myself to support others because it is in my being to do so. But I have learned that not everyone does the same. I have learned that people may come to me not because we have the kind of relationship filled with mutual support, but because they know I am the kind of person you can go to for support. I have learned that not everyone is capable of being there the way that I am often there. I have learned that expecting equal reciprocation often leaves me feeling frustrated and alone, with (false) evidence that yet again I am left to fend for myself.

I have learned that my expectations in friendship have often been misplaced and/or too high.

I have learned that this does not mean we cannot be friends!

I have learned that just because I chose not to lean on someone one time, does not mean they won’t be there for me in a time of need. I have learned that when I open myself up and allow someone, anyone to be there for me in a time of need, I may be surprised who steps up. I have learned that when I reciprocate to those who have already been there for me, I just might find the type of friendship I’ve been longing for.
I have learned that this does not mean we will be life-long friends.
You cannot change others, you can only change yourself. And I needed to change my perceptions and understanding of friendship. I needed to adjust my expectations to allow for differences in personality, in strengths, in character. I needed to accept the people around me for who they are and what they bring to my life. I needed to accept those that are not able to be there in the way I want them to be; as equally as I need to accept those that are trying to be there for me in the way I need them to be. The later has possibly been the harder of these two tasks.
I have learned that some of my friendships will survive this shift in perception and expectation; and some are just not worth the drama. I have learned that some will strengthen, and some will distance, and some will stay exactly the same. I have begun to learn how to trust my girlfriends, cautiously at first. Perhaps even fully, someday.
I have learned that I still have much to learn about being in relationship with others.
But that is to be expected.

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