A Realization

I wrote a blog in late 2017 about another type of rare love, and that is friendship.  Good and trustworthy friends who desire to invest in you as much as you want to invest in them are hard to come by.  That is especially true in a culture that is busy and sometimes teaches that once you have a family friends are a luxury. Friendship doesn’t require two people to constantly be around one another, but if years go by is the term “friend” even accurate?  If during that time both people change considerably and are not happy how things turned out, then is it good to continue to call the relationship a “friendship?”

There have been more people than I would like that fall into this sort of category.  Not only has there been so much time between visits we don’t know each other, but a few people do not wish for that to change.  Others have been toxic for various reasons, something which I didn’t know while I was close with them, but as they say hindsight is always 20/20.

There are things I would love to say to all these people, but I am starting to realize that the most loving thing I can do is let some people go.  Some folks simply do not want to take the time or effort to invest in you.  Their definition of “friend” is in all actuality an acquaintance.  Someone they know, had a few good times, maybe even shared some deep things, but they ultimately don’t know you and you don’t know them.  I would argue that most people have very few true friends if any at all.  That is scary, especially since we are social creatures.

Do not misunderstand this, I’m not saying a long period of time between seeing each other necessarily means two people are not friends.  What I am saying is that if one or both parties put little to no effort into the friendship it ceases to be a friendship entirely.  Our emotions and sentimentality hinder us from making that realization.  We often cannot comprehend that it might be loving to let someone go.  Most of us would probably agree that we do not want a person feeling in bondage to us or an idea of us out of some sort of misguided sense of friendship.

Too Busy!

Anyone who is an adult knows that with maturity comes more responsibilities.  If you are a typical adult living on your own with a family you’re raising, this is particularly true.  On top of work, raising children, and maintaining a relationship adulthood affords far less spare time than when we were younger.  As a result, friendships fall apart and hobbies such as reading become neglected.  Are we really so busy?  If so, then is it necessary?

Western culture is notorious for cramming our lives with as much stuff and activities as possible.  Children and work are huge commitments that take up most of our daily hours.  Yet how much of this lack of time is due to having too many obligations instead of poor time management skills?  After all, if you really want to read or spend time with a person you would.  Sure, there are a plethora of good examples of things that could separate someone from a friend for a prolonged period or their reading hobby.

I have come across many people who say, “I would love to_____ but I just don’t have the time!” Here is my counter to that.  The things I really love to do I still manage to do.  Things I enjoy but aren’t as passionate about are the ones that get neglected due to “busyness.” Those we love and desire a real relationship with we reach out to even if we our personal lives have little room to work with.  As a writer, when I read the statistic that roughly 80% of Americans do not read, I cannot help but wonder if the excuse of busyness is the reason.  Then the next question that comes to mind is how can we writers come to terms with this and help American adults effectively rediscover the magic of reading?

Perhaps the answer lies in each and everyone of us contemplating what is our priorities in life.  If we enjoy watching television, we will watch it.  We all need to take an honest assessment of ourselves and discover our true priorities.  If there is someone you think of as your friend but haven’t called him/her for years perhaps deep down, you may love or respect them but they are not really as close to your heart as you believe.  The same goes for the more trivial things such as our hobbies.  The point is that we all, myself included, need to reassess ourselves sometimes.  If something needs to me more of a priority we need to make it so, otherwise we don’t care as much as we claim.

Another type of rare love

It is often said that true love is rare.  Many people find romantic love, but making it last is difficult, especially to one person for the rest of our lives.  In a culture where changing relationships is common practice, this is especially true.  However, I hardly see posts, songs, or television shows about other types of rare love, particularly true friendship.

In grade school most of us had at least one friend, most had a handful to several.  However, as hormones begin to fly, and kids grow into adults and discover who they are, people change along with their friendships.  I was a docile kid, the stereotypical doormat.  I let people say and do what they wanted to me and just fume to myself, this was the case all the way up until a few short years ago.  I’m shy and introverted and so I spent quite a bit of time alone, but still needed friends.  In fact, quality friendships are as important to me as family.

Like a lot of millennials, I grew up watching Boy Meets World and wanted desperately to have the kind of friendship that Cory and Shawn had.  I had a couple friendships like that, but they did not run as deep or last as long as I had hoped.  In some cases, it was a blessing to no longer be close with as they were mentally abusive, and a few were even bullies.  With other people we are separated by distance but keep in contact as much as adulthood allows.

Ultimately, I learned that a good, solid friendship is hard to come by.  In fact I would argue it is just as difficult to find as romantic love.  Friends come and go, but it is rare to find someone who wishes to be invested in your life.  This is not to say that I don’t have wonderful friends, or have t found the friendship I was looking for, just that life has taught me just how valuable it is.  It you have a best fried That is like a sibling, then you are blessed, cherish them.

Three Years Ago

Have you ever met someone who felt off, but you had no reason at that moment to feel that way?  One particular person I knew gave me that vibe, and for a few years, I honestly didn’t like them much.  It wasn’t until around 2011 that this person confessed something they had done that put them in a tight spot.  I felt as a Christian it was my duty to be there for this person and decided that I was being paranoid and judgmental, so I shoved my reservations to the side.

Over the next year and a half, we grew closer, spending a lot of time talking on Skype and the phone.  There were red flags that I ignored during our friendship.  If I had something to address with this person, they would blow it off, turn it around, and blame me.  This person, among many other bad signs, made grandiose claims of prophecy.  Around this time, the off feeling came back.  Well, if I was honest with myself, it never left, but the warnings in my soul became so strong I couldn’t ignore it.  For the sake of privacy, I won’t say too much more on the situation, but this person did inspire a character in one of my up-coming novels.

When I began talking to a 3rd party about my situation, things started to clear up.  I was making excuses for this person in my head, this person who was emotionally and mentally abusive and manipulative.  In June of 2013, I first brought up my concerns to this person, which neither one of us handled very well. I admit that.  I gave this person another chance but with strict boundaries in place.  Again, the blame was completely placed on me from this other person’s perspective.  I do not claim to be perfect, but I always tried to treat this person with respect.

The 3rd party I was talking to about this situation told me in October of that year that I needed to confront this friend and tell them my concerns.  The person I talked with said I needed to do it in order to grow.  I was terrified, but a couple weeks later I did it.  I wanted this conversation to just be over.  To make a very long and complicated situation more concise, this “friend” didn’t like what I had to say at all.  This person even tried to get my wife to side with them on the issue.  Perhaps I didn’t handle things 100 percent the way I should have, but I do know I was gentle.  Confronting someone with serious issues like this is neither easy to say or easy to hear.  After my wife and I tried everything, suggesting someone else help resolve this and trying to talk about it, this person shoved us away. We let them walk away and resolved to never allow their manipulation back into our lives.

The point of this story is not to shame the individual involved.  I have no idea where they are right now, if they have changed, or if they truly know if they changed.  What I do know is that if you have someone in your life that is manipulating and/or abusive, you do not have to stand for it.  Even if that is the only friend you have in the world, you do not need that toxicity in your life.  Turning away from that doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you smart.  Friendship should be mutual.  The second it isn’t, the moment there is an imbalance of power and benefit, it may be time to rethink it.

This crazy experience, which was filled with more drama than I could ever include was too rich of a resource not to use for a book.  I wrote in a secondary character who becomes friends with the protagonist who is based on my former friend.  Unfortunately, even in an urban fantasy setting, things that happened still had to tone down because, frankly, my readers would probably find it unbelievable.  As a writer, every experience is fair game.  Those experiences, whether they seem real or not, are what make stories relatable.  Even if it is incredibly painful like this experience was for me.  All of life is for us to use.

Note: I chose to use the words “them” and “they” because they are gender neutral and increases the privacy of the person I am referencing.