After Wednesday's post, I fought all my instincts and stayed away from my computer. I really had no idea which way the dominoes would fall. Yes, I have a close-knit group of friends that I AM POSITIVE that I can rely on. But I have also made a number of other "friends" through various endeavors. Many of them read the post before I made it public. The feedback was varied. Some said "Enough. You don't have to defend yourself any more!" Others said it was a good idea. The bottom line from all of them was that, no matter what, they were there for me.
Considering where I've been, that response evoked some very powerful emotions. My life has had some bumps, and along the way, I had conditioned myself for abandonment from those I considered close because that is what I was used to. (When those iron doors slam shut, you find out fast who is still there...but my issues with abandonment go back to childhood.)
In an age where the word "friend" has become a verb, I believe that a lot of the true meaning of that word has been lost. These days, it is just so easy to cut-and-run when things get tough for somebody that is not YOU.
Over the years, I have made it a point to put my cards on the table early. No sense having somebody discover the skeletons in your closet and bailing. It has allowed me a certain freedom that I never before experienced. However, I got to thinking...how much do we really know about each other? Beyond superficial things, do we really know our "friends"? That could be a topic for another day.
Today, it is all about how much my friends have come to mean to me. That statement is coming from a guy who used to say, "I got along without him/her before...and the sun will come up tomorrow whether they are in my life or not." I said that about friends, girlfriends, and wives. (Yeah...plural...I know.)
I have met and made some of the dearest friends in my life in the past 24 months. Some I have never met face-to-face. How crazy is that? One of my most dear friends lives on the other side of the Atlantic, and we have only spoken by phone once. But we keep in touch (not as often as either of us would like...but I have certain hoops that make it a real challenge) as much as we can.
Even more amazing are the showings of support from individuals that I have had almost no contact with who, when the villagers arrive as they tend to do any time I am seeing too much success (like my current BEST EVER month in sales), step in with words of support and encouragement. One person told me "It is easy to hold another person up to a standard as long as YOU don't have to look in the mirror." Some said, "Enough is enough. You have been more open with your past than most would dare." The most touching came from somebody who has experience on the investigative end of situations such as mine. "...I definitely admire the person you seem to be today. So that's what matters to me...I sincerely hope that you are able to put this behind you and concentrate on what's important - your family, the future, and your writing. You definitely have a lot of supportive people behind you and I just wanted you to know that you can count on my friendship as well." That message is one that I will always cherish.
When I came home almost two years ago, I made a promise to live a better life. I told myself that I was going to be a better person. I can't be the one to tell you how successful I have been in this endeavor, but I know that my effort has been legitimate. And one of the things that I have changed is the fact that I let my friends inside. When they offer a helping hand, I accept it instead of slapping it away and pretending that I can do it myself.
I have learned to appreciate life and friends in a way that was never possible before. I give a lot of that credit to the friends that I have now. They are far better people than I deserve, and appreciated more than my words will ever be able to convey.
Friendship is opening your life to another person and taking them for who they are, not who you wish or want them to be. I am blessed to have some of the best.