My Type Of Friend
FEBRUARY 20, 2020
The other day I was reading an article on the list of things a real friend can and should do, and aside from one or two things on the list I would be deemed by the writer as a bad friend.
Which got me to thinking.
This ableist writer has no idea of the different types of people out there, or of any other reality other than their own, so they perpetuate this flawed narrative about friendships that can have long lasting effects; Especially for those who have health and physical challenges.
They wrote that a real friend shows up when needed. Great! This means that I can never be a good friend to anyone?! That just feeds my self esteem completely. Not!
The fact is that even though I can’t physically show up for people all the time (in fact, almost never) this should not be a measure of my intrinsic worth.
They wrote that a good friend spends time with you. Many people imagine friends shopping, driving, dining, partying, water skiing etc but nobody imagines two friends sitting and talking or watching a movie at home. This able bodied ideal doesn’t include those who don’t have the strength or abilities to do much more than be companionship!
A good friend, they write, always has positive energy and lifts you up. Sounds like a mechanical hoist and not a real person to me! Some of the best friendships I know have simply been good ears and open hearts. Someone that cares when the world seems to not care. Someone listens to the things we don’t know how to say. Someone they can trust completely.
When I was healthier and busier I was accused of not being emotionally available or too busy with life and now as I am house bound I am no longer enough fun or too boring for many people to consider interesting!
These days my world can revolve around one house, one room or one backyard but I can honestly say that no two days have ever been exactly the same.
I once read that only boring people get bored and therefore by that definition I am not at all boring and don’t think I ever will be. Despite the fact that I must face the same physical challenges over and over, day after day, I have always found new ideas, new projects, new dreams, new thoughts, new feelings and new concepts to explore. Something that these dreadful diseases can never take away.
The only friendships that I have lost were the ones based on physical abilities, friendships that took more than they gave or had very limited ability to grow and survive. Sadly, that was almost all the friendships that I had made in the 30+ years of life.
Ask yourself how many friends you would have if you couldn’t move? If you had no money? If you had nothing to offer but your honesty?
Recently an old friend had travelled from far away and although I assumed that they would not really want to spend time together or that they would find my company difficult, boring or uninteresting, they completely surprised me by spending much of their time with me! Yes. Me.
We sat on my bed mostly, talking, laughing, reminiscing, joking, consoling and simply being two human beings, together. It was wonderful.
I return to the article I read about a good friend being reliable. Well I have very different thoughts on this topic than this writer and I don’t think reliable is simply confined to turning up at events or doing some heavy lifting when moving home! Reliable can mean that no matter what day, time or circumstance you know without hesitation that you can turn to a person who will be there emotionally for you and allow you to be yourself. Completely.
Reliable can mean that no matter what you might be facing there is someone who is there and cares for you as much as they care for themselves. Someone who will be there for the dark, hard, soul crushing hours when the world is too busy or doesn’t care.
I was often this person for many of the friendships of my past. The go to person for pain, loss, struggle, misfortune and disappointment but I didn’t ensure that this was there for me too. A good friend is a two way street.
My closest friend today is someone who fights hard with their diseases and understands the day in and day out, soul crushing battle our physical bodies put us through whilst nurtures the fragile, kind, pained, loving, charming, funny, childlike, intelligent person that resides inside these shells. A friendship based on real love, loyalty, kindness, compassion and honesty. Unlike anything I have had as an able bodied person.
It is almost unfathomable to me that at this stage of my life that I see how the world looks out into the sea of humanity and it always overlooks and dismisses those with illnesses, disability or chronic struggles as being those who are simply beyond repair or the human flotsam and jetsam thrown across life’s shores. No longer wanted and cast aside. Dismissed from the landscape.
However I have come to learn that there are greater treasures which have been throw and tossed aside than can ever be found amongst the ordinary and everyday.
I have found people with endless spirit, forgiveness, creativity, coping, imagination, inspiration, fragility, kindness, true love, sincerity and hope that I have never found in everyday life. It is amongst the pained, the sacrifices, the losses, the hardship and the overlooked that you find real character and humility.
I wish I didn’t have to join the ranks of the struggling to understand what real friendships were but here I am.
As far as those people who who write about friendships and those who espouse authority on human relationships are concerned I can guarantee they know very little of what real friendships are made of and they have never had to make a life out of pain and suffering.
Real friendships are often hard to define, hard to find, and impossible to replace. But when you find one you will never know a truer thing on this earth.