Like Carl Sandburg’s fog, it comes on little cat feet and sits on silent haunches.
It’s beguiling, it’s oddly seductive. It’s always a slap in the face.
The worst kind comes from people we trust, people we’ve pulled into the inner circle. They give us reason to trust them. Then, they don’t.
I have a friendship in which betrayal has become a big component. Incrementally, and over the years, it has become the dark cloud under which the threads of our friendship twist in a gentle wind.
Over the course of this friendship I have created distance, I have drawn boundaries but it seems to have done little to ebb the tide of mistrust. It’s uninvited here, a sly conversation there that have added up to an undoing.
I think about what I would say if this were my daughter’s friendship and she was deciding what to do. Stand up for yourself I’d tell her. Be kind but be firm. Focus on the good friends in your life. Let this friendship fall way.
I think it’s time to take my own advice. I’m starting to believe a hot sever is actually the answer.
As I’ve watched my daughters start to grapple with the children in their lives, I can’t help but make comparisons to the friendships I have known. I see in one girl the kind-hearted friend I had in high school and who would still fly across the county if I asked her to. I see in another the sneaky, always fun, but always on-the-wrong-side-of-trouble friend I had in college. The one who didn’t always make the best choices for herself or her friendships. I see in another the diligent, true friend I had in eleventh grade, the one I could have been better to. In another I see a heartbreaker and I hope those hearts don’t belong to my daughters. And in yet another I see the friend that will not get their backs even though they say they will. They will sort out the reasons why not for a long time and still not come to any answers that are good enough to account for the painful moments caused by this friendship.
I can’t help but project. This is how I’m feeling these days. My own sorting out of why is almost as long as the friendship in question and the friendship has often not been based on anything solid. We filled each other’s days, I suppose, and not much more.
I think of how to explain these kinds of friendships to my daughters. How do you explain that not everyone acts out of good intentions? That not everyone has their best interests at heart? I don’t know, really, but I know we’ll handle those questions when we need to. Maybe I’ll have a better answer then than I do today. Maybe, but I’m not sure.
So until necessity dictates it, I’ve decided to tell them something else instead.
Friendships can be beautiful and you want to focus on the ones that are. There’s this old saying that what you water will grow so tend the friendships that make you feel good, that allow you to learn, that you come away from feeling inspired. Be a good friend, too. Listen, show up when you say you will. Hold yourself to the same standards you expect from other people and don’t settle for less that those. Don’t let the challenging friendships cast a pal on the good, deep and true ones you have in your life. Put those first. These lessons are hard fought, my love. Your mama had to learn them too.