I have a lot of amazing friends. So many, in fact, I cannot keep up with everyone all the time. That’s not to brag, it is simply a fact of my life. I’ve lived in the same city for 33 + years. I went to school, went to church, worked every job here. You are bound to pick up a few great peeps along the way, while holding onto the long-term special ones. One of my biggest regrets is not having the time or bandwidth to know everything about everyone in real time. I want to know about their family, their health, their babies, trying to have babies, relationships, work, hobbies, fears, dreams and and and.
Life is busy, both mine and theirs and I wish I could be present in both my life and everyone else’s life, but I can’t. Frankly, I can barely keep up with the changes in my own life. Instead, I have to settle for the occasional girls night, text update, extended phone call or Facebook
stalking research. It isn’t enough, but it will have to do.
It makes the times I do get to catch up, all that more special. Jammies and wine girl’s nights pouring over high school photos or playing Cards Against Humanity, hour-long phone calls with a long-distance friend, Sunday morning brunch with a new group of friends, happy hour with my co-workers, couch time catch up with my bestie, family dinner. These are the times that build and maintain lifelong friendships. God willing, in 50-60 years, we can be sharing stories about each other after we pass.
Other times, friendships drain me. Knowing is a blessing and a curse. While knowing brings celebration and joy, it also brings sorrow and worry. I worry about these people. I am a fixer by nature and when I can’t fix, I fixate. I hate feeling helpless. I want to shield my friends from life’s gale force winds — from the harsh realities that we face every day. Sometimes those winds are close to home, family members who hurt us, friends who betray us. Sometimes they are intangibles like a bad health diagnosis or a work problem.
There are times when the combined force of problems and hurts and feelings from all the people overtake me and I cannot continue. I cannot bear the brunt of just one more negative piece of news. And I withdrawal. I cut myself off because I need a moment to recharge my battery.
And then there are times when I am the empty one and my shoulders are so stooped with the burden of my own life and those same friends come along side me and hold me up, fill me up. They see that I am in need and they come to my aid.
It is the give and take of friendships that make them such a deep blessing and life-giving. Friendships that are one-sided – only one person gives and only one person takes – are not friendships at all, they are toxic. The older I get the more I choose to distance myself from those that only take and never give. I have given myself permission to back away. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it isn’t. And that is the curse.
What kind of friend are you?