Friendships are strange things when you really think about it. How do you decide to align yourself with this person and not another? How many of us have friends that we've known since we were children, people we would trust with our deepest, darkest secrets or could turn to in a heartbeat over a crisis? Or people who feel they have no friends at all? Acquaintances, yes, but not friends. How do you even go about making friends as an adult?! You can't just walk up to someone in the street and say "hey! Wanna be my friend?". It works when you're 8 years old; not so much when you're 28.
What about when friendships turn sour? This week I reached five years since speaking to the person who, for 20 years, had been almost a sister to me. I don't want to dwell on the whys and wherefores of the relationship breaking down, but it occurred to me that five years on from when we stopped being friends, I still feel as raw and hurt as I did when it happened. Isn't that strange? I've gotten over romantic encounters more easily! Heck, one year after leaving my eldest son's father, I was free of any residual hurt or feelings towards him! A friendship breaking down feels somehow more.... I don't know. More something.
ETA: how's this for ironic. I write about this friendship for the first time, and as I log into Facebook for a cheeky break, wham! there's a load of photos of her with a mutual friend. Ha.
The realisation that I miss this friendship so much got me thinking about what friends actually mean to each other. It's taken me a long time to let my guard down and really open up to other friends but I'm getting there. For a long time I kept the defences up just in case any one of those friendships broke down for whatever reason; I've deliberately distanced myself emotionally from new people and avoided investing too much in the hope that someone might want to be my friend. Don't get me wrong, I have friends! I'm not a loner at all. But it's that difference between having friends you would grab a coffee with and having friends who know you inside-out, with whom you can relax entirely and just be. That's what I miss; that closeness and familiarity. I see groups of friends who've known each other for years and I'm so envious, like I'm standing on the periphery silently howling "LIKE ME! BE MY FRIEND TOO!".
Maybe it's about time I get a grip and just start trusting people. I know some really amazing folk who are great to spend time with and I'm honoured to call my friends. I shall have a stern word with myself and stop pushing people away.
Wish me luck!