Who are your friends? What does it mean to be a friend? Do you have different kinds of friends?
Do you like friends who tell you what you want to hear? The correct answer to this loaded question is no. But, if I am honest, yes, sometimes I need that. I want a friend who can be honest with me, one that I can be myself around, that helps me to be a better me. I like friends that make me laugh. I value honesty over most anything, and acceptance is a fairly close second.
Do you have many friends? Are there room for more? Really. What about the fact that I don’t have time for the ones I have now? Do we need to weed our friend beds?
Is there a balance between “I have never had issues with anyone” and leaving a trail of friends behind over the years? Are certain friends good for only periods of time, like a coupon that expires? Do you consider it a failure for a friendship that has run its course?
Are some friendships built on a false life?
And what do you do when a friend hurts you? Do you work it out? or write it off? What boundaries are non negotiable?
My husband always speaks of taking the high road, and not burning any bridges. While I sometimes think that he denies himself, and those that he holds most dear, I am learning about this road. Instinctively, I either take the low road, or fly over the high road on my way out.
A few years ago, my husband took my girls to a playground. My youngest was at the top of a slide and my oldest had climbed up the slide to help her. A lady then tore into my daughter and my husband, citing the rule book in her head about slides being one way roads that go down, and uncontrolled kids and on and on. My husband chose to ignore her, grabbed our girls and came home. My oldest daughter, the ever indignant six year old, came home running up the stairs ranting, spurned, as I often am, by her righteous anger. Steve, coming soon behind her, disgustingly calm, proceeded to offer his fatherly advice, “ I explained to her about not stooping to other people’s levels, not burning bridges, and how we like to take the high road.”
My daughter screamed her response to his unemotional speech. “ MOM DOESN’T TAKE THE HIGH ROAD, RIGHT MOM?” Her implication being that road was for pussies, a road our alliance would never take.
Part of my intrigue with relationships is exploring not only friendships, but how I act in these relationships. I have had friends come and go without incident -- either outward or inward-- these are not the friendships of which I speak. I have had relationships that I have backed away from for different reasons. Something inside me realized that they were not healthy or good for me. And I have had friendships end painfully.
When I look at those that ended painfully, I realize that there was conflict and my flight response took over. For whatever reason, lack of skill or lack of desire, I did not stick it out.
Over the last few years, I have gained some skills, or coping mechanisms. I have learned to compartmentalize. With husbands and children, and husband’s friends, and children’s friends, relationships tend to compound. Friendships become tenuous when a mother’s instinct to protect her child trumps everything else.
So, I have tentatively reentered relationships that I had backed away from. I have entered them guardedly, and understanding the limitations. I am not in flight, and not giving up on my ideals. But I am acknowledging that you can’t run away from everything, and there will always be difficult situations and people with whom you don’t always share the same values. I am not denying my feelings, and I will protect myself and my children, while learning to live in a world that has many truths.
I am trying the High Road.