Thursday, July 8, 2010


I have a refrigerator magnet that says "True friends listen to what no one else wants to hear." It was given to me by a true friend, and the saying resonates for me.

I've been wanting to blog about friendship since it's such an important part of our lives as women, and having been ill for so long I have numerous experiences - both good and bad - regarding friendship. But I feel the need to dig deeper and I hope I can adequately express my feelings on the subject.

I have very few long-term friends. One, who reads my blog has been my friend since we were 13. She, too is a registered nurse. We've both been through a lot together and our friendship comes and goes - we've gone long periods without communication and then have periods of intense communication. She's a true friend in every sense of the word. I don't have to "go steady" with her to be her friend. Wherever I am, I can pick up the phone and it's as if we've never been apart. Now THAT's a great friend (love you, DS).

I also have quite a few of what I'd call close friends - women I can talk to very openly - but don't hang out with often. If you're a mother, you know that many of these types of friends are the mothers of your kids' friends - and you either love them or, well for lack of better word - hate them. I'm lucky to have a handful of these great friends. I don't see or talk to them often, but when I do we have a wonderful time together.

Then there are the more difficult friendships. I've had my share - people with whom you've been very close for long periods of time and they know your deepest parts but for some reason they can't hang in there with you when times get rough, or they betray you or do something that ends the friendship. Those experiences are painful and I've had a handful of those over the years as well. Just recently I decided to end one of those friendships...quietly, without fanfare. it is sad.

There's also another category of friends that we don't often think about, but I'm going to be bold and just say it. Friends who are only your "friends" because of what they can get from being your friend. Sadly, I've had some of these along the way....users...who are just in it for their selfish reasons. I usually figure it out pretty quickly and distance myself. (hint: it's also pretty obvious when they don't pick up or return your phone calls.) Yes, I've given of myself only to realize that I was being used and ultimately these women don't really care on a deep level.

But then there are the jewels of friendships, the deep loving friendships where you accept one another for who you are; you can simply be yourself and they are always there for you and vice-versa. I have a handful of these friends and I consider myself very blessed. I don't have a sister, so I call these my sister-friends. They're in it for the long haul and they want to walk side-by-side with you. They are the friends who will listen to what nobody else wants to hear. When you're having a really bad day, they don't offer platitudes; they listen. They encourage.
They cry with you, laugh with you and are present. These are the very best of friends, and my husband is also in this category although I don't call him a sister-friend (haha).

Some of my friends are as young as 18. Some are male. My oldest true friend is in her late 80's. Age is of no importance; it's the deep connection you share. Some are my kids' friends, whom I once shared a mom-type relationship that has blossomed into a true, lasting friendship. They too are jewels as you have the wonderful opportunity of seeing them mature into wonderful young adults.

Friendship is complicated, can be painful and yet is one of life's greatest treasures. And....a true friend really is someone who listens to what no one else wants to hear.