A Thought about the “meaning of friendship”

I know I have been talking a lot about “friendship” in the last few posts … as well as in several posts that I wrote quite some time ago. I can appreciate that there are many people (well, maybe not, but that has nothing to do with this!) but that the many people have different ideas of what constitutes “friendship” to them.

Just now, I was doing something of a very simple “thought experiment,” thinking if what I have been thinking about was something I ended up telling my therapist. Let me start out by saying that my therapist and I seem to have … very different beliefs, including “intentionality.” See … as an example … when I told her that EVERY TIME, at least in the last couple of years, I had finally come to terms with whatever the “bad” situation was; whether it was accepting and moving on with Hector, my friend who shot himself in the head, or whether it was accepting the death of little Dante, my sister’s cat I looked after for many years of his life (and he was so young and I really had no idea he was so sick – this was, obviously, when my sister had him and the two of them loved each other immensely), or whether it was just getting through the worst of my nervous breakdown by looking to the past and finding ways that I managed to cope with REALLY BAD stuff that I seemed to have forgotten as well as new ways that would help me get through. At any rate, whatever the bad “thing” that happened or was was finally dealt with and I felt happy enough to tell my parents that I had figured out how to get through this part of life, something would inevitably hit me, again and again and again. And it was not that I was anticipating any of those things … it was that each time I genuinely believed I was in the clear and I had written out ways for me to be grateful for certain things and to respect the history of things and people who are no longer here, and I had beaten the place where it just knocks you down and then you get angry and resentful and full of unfillable sadness. But this was the point PAST that, where I had found real ways to make my life better and meaningful … and for instance, the day I told my mother that I felt so happy that I had come up with so many ways to get out of my nervous breakdown on my own (I was, in all seriousness, headed for institutionalization of some kind) … and that night I got the call that all 4 of Sparky Puck’s masses were malignant. And I can tell you that EVERY TIME I have seemingly “come out” to the other side, seeing life as better and moving forward and doing everything I can to accept what is, life throws something awful like that at me. Like … these things alone will break you awful. So how can intentionally moving from absolute despair to absolute hope and happiness for the future bring about the intention for death and destruction and disease all around me? I will say as a true student of formal logic, that just doesn’t work.

But I digress! My initial “thought experiment” in telling my therapist what I thought about all the people who acknowledged the severity of my problems AND had the ability to help BUT CHOSE NOT TO while on the other side of things, I had helped them with very serious things led me to believe that she would say something about how they are still friends (the shallowest of the shallow) or some other mumbo jumbo like I just needed to be more positive in dealing with them (which, with one exception, just due to the length of our friendship, I have been!). So that leads me to the overarching question here … what is friendship? What does friendship mean to you?

To end this post, I will tell you what friendship means to me. It means getting to know someone and having some shared values which hold you together – even if that is just something like having a lot of fun together. HOWEVER, to actually go past the “acquaintance” territory, a friend is someone that I would literally do anything I physically could do to help that person … and for me, I expect reciprocation. Now, when I say reciprocation, I don’t meant you also have to try to get the world’s best doctor in a disease to look at some part of my medical chart because that’s what I did for you; I simply mean that I do not ask for help often … I don’t even ask my family for help often. I am a very independent person and I often feel that if I did something, it is also my “duty” to pick that up, clean it up, fix it, &c. So what I’m saying is that in what is probably the only time I will ever ask YOU, a FRIEND, for help (perhaps maybe one more time … I just can’t rule it out because it hasn’t happened yet), I expect HELP. I pour my heart out to people I consider friends, and I think quite a lot of people can attest the lengths that I will go to to try to help these people. I am as as loyal as they get. I am also as empathetic as they get. So if a “friend” responds to something like “oh, we’ll likely need $12,000 for Sparky Puck but even a dollar means EVERYTHING TO ME!!” (which it really does) with heart emojis … and I go to the trouble of throwing up the fundraising sites to them again with basically what is at stake … and I get something like “that must be awful.” while the person is posting pictures of their healthy dog … I’m not okay with that. That is not being a friend in my book of friends … and as I started this post with, everyone has different “rules.” But for me, I have a lot of untold stories that involve betrayal and absolute horror from the time I was in elementary school basically straight through until now … and some of these things were incredibly traumatic … like have you had a shotgun pulled out at you? traumatic. There are so many I can’t list them here and I am triggering myself … but just know I was bullied HORRIBLY and the bully was one of my first “best friends” … and she made it her life mission to take away every new best friend I made … and she did so very successfully. And relationships? 3, 4, 5+ years when the guys have literally said either one day or one minute “I LOVE YOU; I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU!” and the next day or net minute, I never heard from them again. So if that informs this conversation a little better, please just know that that is the most I can write without bringing myself into a full breakdown.

Friendship is not one-sided; and I think that despite all the definitions of “friendship” that are out there, there would be very few, if any, that defined friendship as being a one-sided type of relationship. It is not. And if you are one of the “special” people I reach out to to do anything for; if you are the organization I give all my time and extra $$ and the offer of food for food pantries (still not answered!), that MEANS something to me. I am not just doing that because it’s fun or it looks nice. I am doing so because something touches or touched my heart. And I am incredibly saddened that so many people seem not to feel that I have touched them in that way … even enough to try to help.

I am so sorry this was such a rambling post … I am a mess today. But please leave a comment about what you think friendship is and what you think about all the things I have said; I really would love some feedback on this one! Thank you, as always, and I hope you are having a good day wherever you are in the world!

❤ Always, Beth


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