The August 2001 issue of “O” featured the topic Friendship and this is how it was introduced:
“It has been said that there are two kinds of friends: friends of time and friends of like mind. The first—pals from the old neighborhood, summer camp, our first job – give our lives continuity; the second – soul mates who share our interests, values, goals – give our lives possibility. Both stir our capacity to care and connect, or as the writer Anais Nin once said, Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.”
I think we can all look back to our past and make a list of friends who touched our lives. Inevitably we may have considered some of our friends as “best friends.” My first best friend at the age of three was also named Michelle. She moved prior to us starting school and I didn’t make another real “best friend” until I met Audra in fifth grade. Audra would move a year after our special connection was made and a new best friend named Tanya would enter the picture in sixth grade. I moved a year after meeting Tanya but we somehow managed to keep our friendship very much alive throughout our teen years and into our 20’s. I didn’t really have another “best friend” until my second year of college. There were always other friends in my life, some close and some not as close, but not everyone met fell into that “best friend” category.
What I have observed throughout the years in my relationships is that there is a bit of magic that just seems to make certain people click with one another. Sometimes one can know a person for years but never get super close and then bam a person walks into your life and you feel as if you’ve known them for years and you find yourself easily opening up and sharing the most intimate stories of your life. With some individuals there is an extra special connection and in some of these situations we find ourselves considering her or him our best friend.
I feel these excerpts from The Illustrated Discovery Journal by Sarah Ban Breathnach captures the essence of why some connections stand out from the rest:
“Every moment of every day, consciously, or unconsciously, we all seek our people.” Our people are our spiritual family, the kith, kin, and kindred spirits we’ve unconditionally loved and been loved by since the beginning of time. Sometimes we’re connected by blood and lineage. But not always.”
“Consider the different ways you feel about the people in your life….Which of these individuals represent your own inner circle—your people—the friends of your soul with whom you truly belong and feel safe? The ones with whom you feel that your Authentic Self can emerge, be appreciated, and be loved? Which family members and friends have cared about you, stood by you during difficult days, and were genuinely happy to see you flourish? These are your sacred connections.”
“There is also such a thing as friendship at first sight. You meet someone at a party, and you immediately enjoy the way they naturally include you in the conversation. You see a new employee stand up to the boss, and admire his or her spunkiness right away. Often such connections are very real and very deep…The Irish writer John O’Donahue reminds us that ‘the real mirror of your life and soul is your true friend. A friend helps you to glimpse who you really are and what you are doing here.’”
“You can learn a tremendous amount about your Authentic Self from your soul-friends, both passionate and platonic. The psychologist Carl Jung believed that ‘the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: If there is any reaction, both are transformed.’ A soul-friend is someone who not only sees the real you, but helps you to see her as well.”
Here are some questions to consider:
Who was your first best friend? How old were you? How long were you friends? How many “best friends” have you had in the course of your whole life?
Do you still have a best friend or best friends? Who is the friend that you have known for the longest time and still consider a close friend? When and how did you meet? What has made the friendship “stick”?
What does being a friend mean to you? How could you be a better friend to others — and to yourself?
What qualities do you value in a friend? Do your best friends embody them? Do you possess them yourself? Ask someone you trust about the qualities you’re known for.
Which of your friendships need improving? What action could you take today to mend a torn relationship or revitalize one that’s flagging?
Nearly every friendship has its ups and downs. We grow at different rates or just need space. Are there any friendships that you need to let go of – temporarily or permanently?
Have you ever struggled through a period of time where you felt alone and friendless? How did you get through it? Do you have any recommendations to others who might also be struggling?
Lastly, do you have a favorite movie or book about friendship that you enjoyed and that you would like to recommend?
Resource Recommendation ~ If you are ever seeking answers on how to deal with challenges or difficulties in a friendship I recommend a book called Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD. While the book does offer up stories and thoughts on how to handle the end of a close friendship, the author also offers up a lot of reflection on female friendships and how to strengthen and heal them too. Dr. Levine also has a web site called The Friendship Blog and you can find it here: http://www.thefriendshipblog.com/