We call all sorts of people “friends,” but what does that mean and does it matter? Is a friend a friend? Examining the many different relationships we carry throughout our lives, the title of ‘friend’ is one to consider closely.
Moving here to Culver City, I’ve been fortunate to be invited to various parties and community gatherings over the last year. People here have known each other for years, meeting when their kids were small and now that those kids are college-aged, the parents are still friends and gather regularly.
In my new hometown, monthly and weekly, there are gatherings of people hanging out. These citizens are very fortunate to have created this space and forged these long term relationships.
It can take years to develop a close knit community; in Culver City it seems much intimacy is based on shared experiences. Simply attending parties won’t yield me this shared experience in the same way that working on a committee or project might.
Different types of friendships could be shown on a line graph. Without judging the friendships, there is a process of categorizing them. I know MANY people. They are not friends, however there is a friendly feeling. A fondness in seeing them, having a moment and then not another. One moment does not lead to deepening the relationship, but we are grateful for the moment we have shared. My heart opens to their heart in a moment.
There are acquaintance friends. These friends are beyond just coincidental moments. We’ve had a conversation in the past and we will see each other a few times in the course of a year in a group gathering. It could be someone’s birthday party or a holiday. Always nice to see this people, check in; no further transaction occurs.
My long distance friends and I don’t talk very often, but when we do it’s wonderful. It feels affirming to have someone who knows you deeply and to be connected once again. These friendships are sacred. These long-distance friends and I marvel that when we finally connect in person, it’s as if our hearts are instantly open to the other. No time has passed and I’m grateful each time we get to hold each other once more.
I don’t do a great job telling my long-distance friends how much they mean to me. But thank goodness for the benefits of social media. Those friendships at least get some of my attention, although it will be probably years before we see each other again.
I have “in the past” friends. This is a tricky category. I shared something so wonderful with them at the time, but we no longer have that relationship. I’m so amazed when I run into those people, giving them a hug, asking them how they are, but I know the relationship is probably over and it doesn’t need to be forced back into a present circumstance. There is a melancholy with these friends. A type of regret. Not because anything negative even happened. It just was the end. My heart feels a sadness thinking of how life brings changes. I move on and so do they. It’s over. But I loved them once. And when I feel it, I still carry that love. But that is all.
Good friends are my next category. These are the friends we get to talk to or see with regularity. They share more emotions with us, both good and bad and we laugh, get angry, express concern, and have a bigger berth of emotions we can express with one another. I have a handful of these friends. I talk to them often and I’m so bloody grateful for them. My good friends don’t necessarily know each other, they may know about one another but I don’t have that shared community with my good friends where we all hang out. I see them or talk to them individually.
Intimate friends. These are my friends that share my heart on a deep level. There are only a couple of these friends. Sometimes in life, there were none of these friends or only one. These are the friends that you can call anytime and express whatever you need to. They listen, relate and help you through the hard times. I said to one of my friends the other day, “You share my heart.” She’s held my deepest pain and made me feel less alone in the despair. There is nothing like that kind of friendship. That is soul-filling.
I also know that relationships have to be watered regularly. And sometimes it’s been my fault that something has dried up. I simply haven’t had the faculty to attend to the friendship. There is regret. I have to trust that the Universe will help the relationship if it’s meant to come together again. And if it isn’t, I let go. Maybe there will always be a melancholy about that person and regret is really okay. I don’t need to make it go away or do anything. It keeps me humble. It reminds me that relationships need attending to and I try and do better the next time.
It’s the holidays. We think about relationships, past, present and perhaps future at this time of year. We feel the sting of melancholy and the overwhelm of too much. I’m taking myself out. I’m giving myself time to do exactly what I want with myself. I feel lonely and yet I feel fine. It’s both.
I’m befriending myself this year.
Merry Holidays to everyone!