I’ve been remiss in writing. I could say that I’ve been busy or tired or ran out of things to say and while all of that may be a wee bit accurate, none of it is really true. It’s been an interesting summer – emotions running high and a shift – however subtle – in the air.
An article I recently read talked about how your friends should be supportive, optimistic and bring something positive to your life. Now I thought they had a point. I mean, who wants to hang out with unsupportive, pessimistic friends who are negative. Then I thought wiat – I would hang with my friends if they were like that. Because I would want to know if I could help and if I couldn’t – I would still be there for them – it’s what friends do.
Friendship isn’t just about being positive. Sure, friendship is often full of laughter, good times, inside jokes and memories in the making. But, it’s also – and should be – full of support during the darker times. It’s easy to be a friend when things are looking up – after all, who doesn’t appreciate a good time. But, to be a friend when things are tough, when someone is struggling, more needy than usual, in pain (emotional or physical) – yes, negative – is the mark of true friendship. To be fair to the article I read, they weren’t suggesting that people should discard friends who were having a bad moment but it did reinforce you should fill your life only with friends that bring something positive to your life. Sounds a bit Pollyanna-ish to me and really, Pollyanna annoys the shit out of me.
I have to ask myself, do I bring something positive to those I call friend or have I been discarded? I believe the answer to both is yes. I’m definitely a nurturer; I want to fix things, I want them to be better. I check in – often. I ask how people are and if there is anything I can do. This makes me feel connected and hopefully, let’s my friends know I’m here if they need. Do they always take me up on that? No – and that is okay. I asked, they knew I cared and the unspoken support was palpable. I will raise a glass in the good times, be a cheerleader during difficult times and a shoulder when things go bad.
But I admit to tough times, too. More than once I’ve been less than positive and bitching was my primary language (okay, I always speak that language but I’m usually pretty upbeat.) The friends that listened, asked and stuck around…well, our friendships went to a different level. They became deeper with a greater sense of permanence. Others drifted away – couldn’t be bothered, didn’t know what to do or were unable to support something that perhaps they didn’t understand, agree with or relate to. At the same time, I know I’ve drifted away from a few that were so vehemently against what I was doing in my life that I felt I was defending myself in every conversation. Does this make me a lousy friend? Or them? I just don’t think it’s that clear cut.
I recently shared some things with some friends – something that was really painful for me, something I sometimes struggle with and some things that just make me an emotional mess. Since those initial disclosures, I’ve been a bit shocked that some of my friends have not inquired about it – no asking how was I doing, was I feeling better about things, or did I need to talk. I felt a shift prior to that and felt that really opening up may repair things – I believe I was wrong (and believe me, I don’t say that easily.) Have some of my friendships gone through a change? What do I do with that? I’m not asking for sympathy or endless inquiries as to what is wrong – I’m just making an observation. Being a friend means many different things. Am I wrong to hold those friends up a standard they may know nothing about?
Do our friends have to be just like us? Do we have to be in sync with good times and bad so that no one person is being needier than anyone else? Must we behave only in a way that is beneficial to others, burying what we are feeling and keeping that private in order to outwardly positive? I’d like to believe that I love my friends despite our differences – despite the things that drive us crazy about one another or difficult times that they are going through. Sometimes a friend needs a distraction, a drink or a shoulder. Other times, distance – emotional or otherwise - is the remedy that works best (uh, this is my go-to remedy, which I recognize annoys my friends and I try hard to avoid.)
My Big Susan’s each respond different to a crisis – mine or theirs. Neiman is Switzerland – her response to most things is, “Do what makes you happy or what you think is right,” and this drives me crazy. I want her opinion – I value it. I tell her this all.the.time. She is the most stoic person I know when facing her own challenges – rarely asking for help and her brave face is full of beauty and grace. But I know she’s full of shit. Geek is logical and practical in her approach – always looking for the sound reasoning and rarely full of emotion. And Brenda Starr, well, she’s a hot emotional mess like me. Each of my Big Susans possess traits I value though they may annoy me at times. I love them despite this – because of it. Maybe I look at my friends through rose-colored glasses and just want to see the good. Sounds a bit Pollyanna-ish of me, which both scares and annoys the shit out of me.
I don’t friend easily. I can acquaintance at the drop of a hat but I don’t truly friend that easily. So, I’ll be honest; some of this stings a bit. But, then I think that maybe they are going through something, too. Maybe they have stuff going on that they aren’t ready to talk about and maybe time will repair things. Maybe it won’t but I refuse to dwell on that. I’ll be positive and optimistic and believe it will work itself out and we will fall back into the comfortable friendships we had before – simply because we are friends. Fuck, I really do sound like Pollyanna.