Friendship has always been hard for me.
As far back as I can remember, all I’ve ever wanted is to be accepted and liked by my peers. I think most people have this innate desire. For some it is more subconscious while others are more acutely aware of their hankering to belong.
We go through life meeting people, some of whom become our friends. People we can confide in, laugh with, spend time relaxing or goofing off with. They lend a hand when we need one. They encourage us to keep going and cheer us on through our successes. And we reciprocate. Not because we feel obligated to do so, but because we want to give back to our friends what they have offered us. It’s what friends do.
Friendship, as I mentioned, is a reciprocal relationship. It doesn’t always balance out perfectly and it doesn’t have to. ‘You grab dinner tonight and I’ll catch the bill next time’, it doesn’t mean the amount paid will be the exact same for both meals, it’s more about the time spent together and the cost of the bill is inconsequential. It’s loaning your friend money without question because you trust without a doubt that the loan will be paid back, even if it takes a year. It’s sitting on the couch with them, eating ice cream and crying to sappy movies because they just went through a horrendous breakup, and everything is a little bit better as long as you can get through it together. It’s having someone to go shopping with and tell you with super brutal honesty what actually looks good and what not to waste your money on.
True friendship is having someone you can count on, no matter how good or how awful life is at any given moment. It stands the test of time, disagreements, and distance because everything that is truly worth it in life takes work.
As I have gotten older I have noticed I have fewer and fewer friends. I don’t like to play the blame game, there are a lot of reasons relationships end and I think you can rarely blame one person for everything that resulted in that bond being broken. However, I am acutely aware that my depression has pushed a lot of people away from me. I behave irrationally and say things I otherwise wouldn’t say when my disease takes over, and I take full responsibility for my actions.
It was during my first major depressive episode that I lost every friend I ever had, save one. There is a part of me that has not forgotten the pain and isolation felt upon their desertion. There is a part of me that is unwilling to let people too close too quickly, or maybe at all, for that reason. I have also started to wonder if my desire for a large group of friends has waned over the years for other reasons. I believe I was overly dependent on the need to be accepted when I was younger, less confident in my self-worth and independence. Marriage has also played a factor, as my husband is my best friend for life. My mother-in-law assures me that I don’t need any friends at all, but I don’t take much credence in that.
I still believe in true friendship and the importance of having it in my life, there are just fewer people who fit the description now. I have more self-respect, I am less insecure in who I am and what I need or want from a friend. I still struggle with depression and that’s not something a lot of people want to deal with, and I am ok with that. The friends I have are beautiful people with huge hearts who accept me exactly as I am. I wouldn’t trade the few of them for a lot of disingenuous friends any day of the week.
I’ve grown up and so has my conception of friendship.