Monday, June 8, 2009

On the nature of friendship

In my other life, I play a MMORGP; a massive multi-player online role playing game called World of Warcraft. Most people reading this blog are friends whom I have met in that game or friends who know of the game. 95% of those in the game I know only as a screen name that goes with a pixelated person. If they stood in front of me at Panera, I wouldn't know it. Others, however, have ventured into Chicagoland and we have met. It has been a surprise and delight to meet them.
I recently had a huge falling out with one person I met in the game and in real life. We are both strong women, in some ways very much alike and also very different. We have parted ways because of a huge misunderstanding and both of us making assumptions about the other. Our assumptions were based on the information we both had at the time. The information proved to be erroneous but damage to the relationship had been done.
Certainly all of you have gone through this kind of problem. You try to make the best decisions you can with the information you are presented. But then you find out the information you have is completely baseless and wrong which makes all your decisions wrong. This can and does result in many hurt feelings.
When I was going through my divorce, I was quite the whiner. I whined and fussed at anyone who would listen. My "cold water moment" was standing in the gathering area at church and having a friend say, when I started in fussing, "Well, that's way more information than I ever wanted to know." She turned and walked away from me. (Yes, we are still friends but the nature of the friendship changed right then.)
I took this event back to the therapist helping me deal with this monumental change in my life. I was indignant. How dare she turn and walk away! Didn't she see I needed to talk? My therapist sat back in her chair, looked at me and said, "Well, you're whiny. Who wants to talk to you?" But...but...but...I need people to talk to. "Yes, you do, but this life event is going to separate your friends. Can you handle this?" Separate my friends? Huh?
She was right. It did separate my friends.
I've come to see that friends are like a dart board. There are a few who are bullseyes. You all have them. They are the friends who, to use a cliche, "know you and still like you". They are the ones in whom you confide everything. They tell you everything. You will keep their secrets forever and they will keep yours.
From the middle out, all the other people you call friends fall into one of the rings based upon how much they know and how much you trust them with who you are.
Getting to the middle of the board is a journey. I look at the people I put in the center and realize I have been through some hairy moments with them. I have argued, yelled at, cornered, cried, written off, embraced again, every single one of those people. I have felt so insulted by their behavior I have vowed never to talk to them again and yet, today, I would trust them with executing my last will and testament.
My therapist said, and, in my life's experiences, I see this to be true, every single friendship you will ever have will go through a trial by fire. It's how you deal with that trial that determines whether the friendship lasts or fails. Can the two of you be knock-down drag out screamingly angry with each other, raw and emotions bared, hurting and hurtful and come out of the experience still wanting each other in your lives? If you can do that, you will probably always be friends.
There is always a sadness when a relationship passes on. It is, however, the nature of life. I have no friends from my grade school through high school years. A few of my closest friends are from college years. The rest I have picked up as I walk along my life's path. Those are the ones I will never see eye-to-eye with but I love them just the same. They push me. They strengthen me. They see me as I am and, to use another cliche, will be the ones sitting next to me in jail saying, "Next time, let me knock him out."

Beverage: the last of the Assam before heading out to lunch


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