Best Friends: A Warm Refuge
By the time we reach adulthood, many of us have had the good fortune to have at least one best friend. If we have moved around or changed our life situation repeatedly, we may be lucky enough to have had several. The best friend relationship is often our earliest intimate peer relationship, and it can be a source of great warmth and connection throughout our lives. The details of best friendship change as we grow up and grow older, but the heart of it remains the same. Our best friends are a warm refuge in which we feel free to be fully ourselves, to share our deepest secrets, to rest when we are tired, to celebrate when we are happy—a place in which we feel utterly welcome to give and receive that most precious of all gifts, love.
Most intimate relationships hit bumps from time to time, and one of the hallmarks of an enduring best friendship is its ability to ride out the turbulence and remain intact even as it faces changes. Our best friends are those who manage to love us through all of our transitions, as we do the same for them. We find ways to embrace and appreciate the differences that set us apart and offer love and support no matter what. We allow each other to be exactly as we are at a given moment, even as we allow each other to change over time. In this way, best friends sometimes feel like family. We know we will stick together regardless of where our individual paths lead.
We may be on the phone with our best friends every day, or we may not have spoken for a year, yet we know that our bond will be strong and immediate when we do connect. This bond ties us together even when we are apart and draws us blissfully back into the warm refuge of each other’s company when our paths bring us together again.”
~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om
In my mind, friendships are as valuable as precious jewels that one does not simply place in a sock at the back of a drawer. Unlike family, friendships are created. Whereas, you are simply born into a particular family with no choice in the matter, a friend is chosen from the sea of choices, by the mutual desire of two people to create a relationship.
I am not referring to the mere acquaintance and that relationship that we all enjoy with most co-workers, the woman at the coffee shop down the street, or the man who saves your favorite newspaper or magazine for you. You can talk to these people about general things like the weather, common interests, an exciting upcoming vacation and water cooler gossip. The acquaintance comprises the relationship that is most likely to change as we journey through our lives. Although these are important relationships in our lives, generally, they do not rise to the level of a friend.
Friendships are not equal. In most cases, we have a friend for all seasons and a friend for all reasons. For example, there is the person that we turn to for a listening ear, the person that we call upon when we need comforting words and a shoulder to cry on, the person that you call when we are bereft of inspiration, the person who excels in handling a crisis, and in the internet age, the person with whom we have forged a close online relationship. This brand of friendship composes a significant portion of our friendships. They know bits and pieces of our lives — the ones that are necessary for the roles that they play in them. These relationships can endure, and are important to us, but they do not rise to the level of “best friends.”
The “best” friend can be new or one that has spanned decades. Some of us, have many best friends, and I admire the dedication that it takes. Given my idea of a friendship, I think of very few as my “best” friend. In fact, I believe that a “best” friendship needs must be stoked, like the perfect, roaring fire, because left unattended, the best friend relationship can die. Personally, I, don’t have the energy to give more than a few best friends the attention and care that they deserve. More importantly, the heart bond shared by best friends is not something that I take lightly. I wholly agree with the Daily Om piece wherein states that “[t]his bond ties us together even when we are apart and draws us blissfully back into the warm refuge of each other’s company when our paths bring us together again.”
In my mind, the relationship between “best” friends encompasses everything that I’ve mentioned and more. She (I use “she” for simplicity’s sake, since a best friend can easily be a guy.), is the one that I instinctively want to talk to when I have good news. I know that I can share the happy moments or good fortunes without the fear of jealousy or envy. In her, I can freely share life’s most intimate details, knowing that she will protect them as if they were her own. Trust is inherent in the relationship. A good friend is as happy for me, as she would be were she in my shoes. She is my biggest supporter and most enthusiastic cheerleader. Yet, this is the easier part of the relationship. A “best” friend is tested not in the good times, but in the heat of turmoil.
Like in good times, I yearn for my best friends in the worse of times. My best friends know the worse in me, yet they love me anyway. Best friends don’t judge, yet you can count on them, to speak the truth, whether it is what you wish to hear it or not. Recently, I remember calling a friend with a very serious situation, about which I felt strongly, After she shared her thoughts, I said, “Now just whose friend are you supposed to be?” We laughed, but her thoughts and advice were exactly what was needed to talk me down and to make me see the other side of the situation. A best friend knows you, your likes and dislikes, as well as your thoughts. She also reminds me of the best of me, when I forget.
All in all, my “best” friends are my moral compasses. For me, it comes down to this question: if something should happen to me, would I entrust them with the care of my journals? Best friends are the only ones that I would share the inner workings of this insane, tangled, complicated mind of mine, and ensure their destruction. In the words of Jim Morrison:
Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.
Merry Christmas, dear friends. Enjoy a safe and happy holiday.