My best friend recently came to visit. Twenty-six years ago she and I road the same bus to and from junior high school everyday. There was a conversation early in the friendship when we decided to be friends. Best friends. The conversation went something like this:
You know what we should do?
We should be best friends.
Yeah, we so should!
Ok, then we are! Best friends!
Awesome! We’re best friends!
All those years ago, we could not have known what an important conversation that would end up being for both of us. She’s been my confidant, my family, my history, my memory, strength in terribly hard times, and my greatest supporter. She’s the sister I never had, and the friend everyone else wishes they had.
During her recent visit, while having a nice dinner out and solving all the problems of the world, we had a bit of a – shall we say – tiff. We were smuggling the very last bits of chocolate out of the fondue pot when the conversation went south. Really, really south. The last time I can remember having this kind of difficult conversation with her was when we were still in high school. Thanks to our awkward weekend, I was reminded of the choices I often make to feel safe, and how those behaviors and beliefs keep me isolated.
So, if you too want to ensure relational destruction, here are just a few of the tips I picked up that weekend:
- Make up stories about what other people think.
- Assume verbalizing your feelings is weak.
- Adopt the notion that how one person responded is how everyone will always respond.
- Ignore the palpable awkwardness at all cost.
- Breathe very shallow as to increase the tension.
- Keep honesty to a minimum.
- Never forget that you are not worth fighting for.
- Disregard your gut.
- Assume all culpability lies with the other person.
- Convince yourself that your feelings are invalid.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Gingerly walk around any subject that might reignite the issue.
- Find ways to be resentful and hold on tight.
- Avoid vulnerability as to remain in control.
- Begin making comparisons.
- Conceal your needs.
We’ve since talked about the events of that weekend and the friendship is strong, stronger perhaps for having purposefully welded some weakening pieces back together. I’m so grateful for the trust we’ve built over the years that allows for relational speed bumps.
I’m not suggesting we widely open the door to our souls for anyone who asks; just that we learn to lean into the vulnerability of friendship with those who have proven to be loving and trustworthy over time. Lean in especially when it gets hard to lean. How do we learn who and what is trustworthy? Lean in just a little, breathe, notice. Lean in just a little, breathe, notice.
So glad our fourteen-year-old selves picked each other all those years ago. We should be best friends. Yeah, we should be. Grateful she’s stuck with me on the journey. Speed bumps and all!
P.S. When I asked her if I could use some of our weekend in a blog post, her text response was “You bet! Can’t wait to read it” and a few seconds later “26 years… holy shit!” My thoughts exactly!