I came home last week to a wholly unexpected gift of thanks on my doorstep. Accompanied by a beautiful and heartfelt card, I was totally overwhelmed with a feeling of ‘out of the blue’ kindness and true friendship. The gift was from someone I’ve known since we were waddling around like oversized hippos awaiting the birth of our first children.
Our friendship has matured over the past 15 years into one of unconditional respect, love and care – not seeing enough of each other as our hectic work and family lives take precedence, but knowing that should the need arise, we would be there for each other in an instant. I use the word matured deliberately because our friendship has grown and been shaped by all manner of influences: the shared challenges of motherhood; the pooled frustration of never quite succeeding with the career/family juggling routine; the mopping of tears when concern for loved ones has burst our emotional banks; the tears of laughter at the dodgy red fairy lights on the tent that conveyed boudoir not fairytale!
Her blatant act of kindness made me think about this whole thing we call friendship. Why do most people in our lives only ever remain acquaintances, but a select handful evolve into a union you would give your all for? What is it in them and us that silently communicates a feeling of trust so great that you are willing and able to bare heart and soul, secure in the knowledge you are in safe harbour?
Friendship isn’t biologically necessary. Unlike erotic love that is required for humans to reproduce, and parental love that provides foundations for nurturing and growth; in theory you could exist without friends. But the reality is you couldn’t; you would be alienated from the magic that comes in knowing you’ve got a wingman covering your back at all times. Our society would be a really odd place without friendship.
So what is true friendship? Here are some answers recently given when I posed this question. Hat tip and thanks to all who responded. When you read the answers, they are a gentle reminder that true friendship is a responsibility. To be a true friend is active, not passive.
True friendship is….
Accepting. Quietly being there.
Being there, even if not physically ‘there’, through the good and the bad times.
Loyal and honest.
Always available, no matter the time of day or night.
Someone who can keep secrets.
The ability to let each other be themselves.
When you can go weeks or months without communication, knowing that when you see each other again you crack on with catching up without recrimination.
Someone who knows the value of listening.
Someone who has got your back. Who is there for you for the ups (with champagne) and the downs (with red wine and a non-judgmental shoulder to cry on). Someone with no conditions, no complications. Someone you can count on and who counts on you to be the same.
Trust, honesty and sincere generosity of our hearts.
Wanting that person to be the best they can be. Not being jealous or envious of successes; unfaltering in your support during times of weakness or failure.
Friends are the family you choose for yourself.
Finding your absolute soulmate with whom you can share and experience your entire cycle of life with – the happiness, sadness, challenges and triumphs.
Speaking the truth, listening, supporting, drying the tears. Living, loving and laughing.
Friends are the people who believe in you so much, you start to believe in yourself.
This post is dedicated to my true friends. My gorgeous girls, you know who you are. It comes with a huge apology for not seeing you as much as I would like and heartfelt thanks from the bottom of my heart for being there, through thick and thin.