Thursday, February 28, 2013

Appreciating Friendships

(This was written as a journal entry some time ago and is somewhat rambling and convoluted.)

Where do you draw the line between being there for someone and letting them take advantage of you?

I have been getting better over the years at doing this. Getting away from the people who knew the older (actually, younger!) me helped; and new relationships I forge are based more on mutual respect. This means usually that intimacy develops far more slowly. That there's less dependence, less exposing one's vulnerabilities. But I have the Guy for all that.

And really, apart from with the Guy, when did I have that anyway?

In school and college, yes. But we were all young and stupid then. I wouldn't want those friendships now, even though some of them were great for the time. But you can't recreate the past.

Besides, I'm a different person now. And people who knew me before find it hard to get that.

Actually, scratch that. They probably never knew me well in the first place. I am the same person I ever was. Only less conciliatory and more confident.

I am getting better, as I said, at drawing boundaries. But there are still times when I think, "Why did I let that person treat me like that?"

It's more difficult when it's someone you've known for a long time. You try to relate based on what was, and try to bridge the gap to now. Often, the gap is too wide.

Sometimes it's mutual, the blurring of boundaries. I recognize there are people who bring out the worst in me, reducing me to a hyperemotional adolescent.

Is it too late to restart and reforge those relationships?

It's easier to start new conversations, build new friendships. Friendships that might lack the intimacy of sleepovers and long furtive phone calls, but possess the respect and maturity of adulthood.

No, not all old friendships are dysfunctional. I have friends I have known for a long time now -- just a precious few -- who still take the time to listen and understand who I am. Who remember what I tell them and let it inform their perspective of me. Who have rich lives that I can good-naturedly envy. Who want to hear about me as much as they want to talk to me.

We had a few friends over the other night. They all have busy lives, with much happening even right now. Yet they still -- and always -- take the time to ask how we're doing. They remember where we were when we last met, and pick up the threads again.

I feel so lucky to have that. I wish we lived nearer and could visit more often. I wish we all had more time. But I'm grateful for what we do have, and an evening spent just sitting and talking to some of these friends is one of the most satisfying ways I can think of to spend my time.

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