Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Gift of Friendship

Remember when we were kids and you would go to the park and meet a new kid?

" I like your skateboard!"

"I Like your Six Million Dollar Man Action figure!"

"Wanna be best friends?"

"Cool! By the way, what's you name...?"

Yeah. Back then we didn't realize how easy we had it. We didn't know the truth about friendships, that there are so many different kinds of friends it would make a six year olds head spin off their shoulders.

I've had lots of friends in my 44 years on Earth. Friends who were like sisters all through grade school but by ninth grade barely remembered my name unless they wanted something. Friends who signed my year book "Let's always stay in touch" and then forgot I existed about the same time their tassels hit the ground.

But that is the way of kids. That best friend you made at the park was forgotten the first day she wasn't there and someone else was there to take their place. High school friends were replaced by the young friends we met in college or at first jobs. Then, single friends were forgotten when married and then we made married friends. And lastly, those of us who didn't stay married, left married friends behind and made divorced friends.

Friendships, like life, are ever changing. When we were kids, we wanted loads and loads of friends. To be popular. As we grow older we stop looking for quantity, and start looking for quality. And, with my increasing health issues, offline friendships have faded away. The few that remain are fading even more due to the fact that I no longer drive.

So, I cherish these friends I have been able to make, the ones who live inside my computer. But that leads to unique difficulties.

Like in the real world, there are those friends who will stab you in the back the moment they get a chance. But there are more here. Those who you share your deepest hopes and desires with, only to have them turn around and use them to hurt you. And why? Because you moved away from them, because you HAD to move away from them. Their behavior was like poison to you. Because you couldn't even recognize yourself anymore, because they encouraged you to act and behave in ways that made you feel sick to your stomach and hate yourself.

I've recently found myself being attacked by friend like this. I use the term friend very loosely here because I doubt now that she was ever my friend. I met her at a time when I was very vulnerable, reeling from the loss of two very dear friends due to a misunderstanding. I believe now that this person is a manipulator, someone who likes to surround herself with the vulnerable because she is miserable herself. A drunk, angry, bitter woman who needs to keep others down to make herself feel like something. She's spent the last week making me miserable...and I have been allowing her to do so by sucking into her head games.

Well, not anymore. I've realized something very important.

She told me that I was worthless, and I only became worthless by believing her. She told me I was a terrible writer, and so I became a terrible writer by believing her. This angry, bitter woman can only hurt me if I allow it.

I'd very much like to say I reached this epiphany all on my own, but sad to say I can't. Because there is another kind of friend that I have yet to mention.

There is the kind of friend who cares about their friends. The kind who will say silly things just to make you laugh, who will send you dorky Valentines Day t-shirts with big red hearts on them, even though she KNOWS you detest Valentine's Day...just because she knows it will make you laugh...and she knows how much you need a laugh.

And, there is the kind of friend who will stand with you while you cry out your pain. Who will tell you that he believes in you when you are unable to believe in yourself. And you will know he is sincere because he has stood by you so many times, time when so many, many others have turned you the shoulder. And then...he will make a gesture that is so sweet, and so generous that it makes you cry tears that are so happy they wash away the tears of pain.

I am so lucky because I don't just have one friend like this...I have two. Two very dear online friends who have taken me from a week of hell and put me into a day from Heaven.

This isn't to say that I don't have other online friends who aren't amazingly wonderful, I do, really I do. And I cherish every single one of them.

But these two are special. They have been with me through hell and back, and I know they will be there the next time I fall into hell, and they will be the ones to pull me out. I know I can tell them anything, and I will never have it turned into a sword and shoved into my back. They have given me an amazing gift....a truly amazing wondrous gift.

The gift of their friendship....the gift of themselves.

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