On Friendship

Recently, I’ve been mulling over the idea of friendship and what it means to me. We’ve all been on a roller coaster of emotions lately with the pandemic, social unrest, economic hardships. No one on earth is exempt from that, and we’re all under stress.

And I am grateful for each and every friend I have.  I am an introvert by nature and making true connections is hard for me. I can be sociable and have lots of friendly acquaintances, but my true friends are a small bunch.

I also know that our friendships are not fixed, but mutable. I like to think I’ve never stopped growing as a person. I’m always learning more about who I am, my talents, gifts, and flaws. There are so many flaws. I have made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and continued on with friendships I’ve had since my high school days and even before.

But I have also learned that sometimes we grow apart. That as we and others evolve as humans, we move in different directions. Things change and I realize  we don’t have the same ideals, the same passions, the same beliefs that drew us together in the first place. It’s sad, to let go of a friendship you’ve put a lot of effort into, but there is also a peace in releasing that which no longer serves you, or makes you happy. My husband speaks the truth when he says, “People will move in and out of your life, and that’s okay.”

That said, I would never willingly throw away a friendship I thought was salvageable. I know friendships take work and sacrifice. But if I feel the scale is out of balance, if I am the only one making an effort, then maybe it’s time to reconsider what is real. I will not tolerate contempt, or abuse, or indifference. That has no place in my world.

It does make me sad when a friendship ends. Whether it’s abrupt or I had seen it coming for some time,  it doesn’t matter: there is a presence of grief. But there are memories too, memories of good times spent laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I can carry those with me even if the person is no longer in my life.

I do know that there are still many new people I have to meet, there are many days of laughter and making new memories ahead of me. And it has happened in the past that friends I thought I had lost forever have come back, and we’re all the stronger for it. (I’m looking at you, Paula and Jodi.) Trust can be rebuilt if both parties are willing to let go of the hurtful deeds and words from the past. Sometimes time does heal wounds.

Friendship is what you put into it. Both sides need to give in order for it to work. Otherwise it’s just you alone out there, giving away kindness into the void. And kindness, while infinite, should be spent on people who want to be part of your life.

Plague Diaries #9

I have a very dear friend who is one of those people who is without guile or pretense. She is a genuine, authentic soul who says what she means, is kind to the core, and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She is a beautiful soul.

I’ve been keeping in contact with her through email lately and have mentioned my problems with anxiety. And she offered to give me acupuncture treatments. She is a retired nurse who also studied eastern medicine for three years and is a licensed acupuncture practitioner. Yesterday afternoon was my first session.

I lay on cushions on the floor on my back. She took my pulse three places in my right wrist and three places in my left wrist, and also in my neck. She inserted two needles in each wrist, two in each foot, one in the top of my head and five in my left ear. And I lay there for a while.

It wasn’t unpleasant, in fact, other than being pricked with needles, it was actually nice to just lay there and not be expected to do anything. We talked a little, she told me about her journey through learning eastern medicine and even how she went to China to study acupuncture there for two months. On top of being a kind person, she also has the soul of a wanderer–she’s been so many places in the world and I love to hear her stories of travel.

After she took the needles out we sat and talked a little while and then I went home. I can’t say I felt a huge difference right away, but this morning I did notice an easing in my breathing. I plan to go back some night after work this week to do it again.

I can’t tell you how much her friendship means to me. She’s someone who understands anxiety and depression, having battled them herself. In a world where so many people are selfish and rude, finding a truly kind person is a rarity. To have such a person in one’s life is a gift and I will never take her for granted, even if she never gave me acupuncture. Just spending time with her and talking lifts my spirit and brings me joy.

Thank you, my dear, for your love and friendship and needles.