Speaking of spring pruning , a number of my clients this past month have been talking about the pain of shifting friendships and the sometimes unexpected cleaving of these important connections. It's true that most of us invest a lot of time and energy into friendships and want them to endure over time. Unfortunately, we don't always pick our friends carefully enough for this to happen. Friends are often picked up and attached to our lives like a snowball being rolled around and around so that it grows to the size we want. It's a dynamic process without much thought. Snowballs melt and so do some friendships. And, like winter into spring, this melting of friendships makes way for new growth in the form of new friends that are better suited to who we are now.
The pain and confusion of a disruption in a friendship can cause a deep grieving, bring up intense anger and feelings of betrayal. It can send us scurrying back to living more emotionally safe lives and vowing to not put ourselves in a relationship that has the potential to hurt. My mother used to say, "There is no such thing as a best friend." A powerful statement to a budding young person. It was ironic as well, since I had a best friend for all of my childhood. Susan and I were thick as thieves and I became a de-facto member of her family, loved so much by them that I had household chores in their house as well as my own home. I understand that my Mum's statement came out of her own disappointments, yet it stands as a powerful example of how such beliefs can hinder a life and perhaps the life of the next generation. As a kid I was an 'emotional scientist' and would steadfastly and routinely run 'tests' on any data that felt strange. As you might imagine, my mum's statement about best friends did not hold up.
What were the beliefs about friendship in my family of origin (foo)?
How did/do these beliefs shape my friendship choices?
What are my personal values?
What values are important in my friends?
What qualities do the friends I treasure have?
What is my definition of a 'best friend'?
What kind of a friend am I?
Do I put unnecessary expectations on my friends?
We can have best friends, fast friends, fun friends, sometimes friends, short-term friends, fair-weathered friends, friends who do best in times of crisis, friends we knew in high school, childhood friends, selfish friends and on and on. We change and our friends change. Some friends stay and some go. It's life and it's okay.