Over half term we went to stay with an old friend. Steve and I go back over nearly 30 years but my kids have only met him in the last year or so and so they were asking how we knew each other, and as I told them the story, I couldn't help but tell them parts of the story of my life which they hadn't heard before.
Steve and I weren't in touch for a while, we didn't fall out, life just moved in different directions for a while, but it's so comfortable to see him; he knows me so well in so many ways. He has seen lovers come and go, he knew my mum, he knows my sister, he takes the mickey out of me in the same ways he always did. He has seen me live through loss and bereavement, we have danced, talked and laughed a lot. I sometimes thinks he sees more about me than I see of myself.
Old friends hold our stories for us and use them to help us when we forget why we do what we do, or react the way we do. They know our family dynamics well but from the outside and so can laugh and stay compassionate with them. My oldest friend Suzanne and I have shared nearly four fifths of our lives. There is nowhere I can hide with her; I can't pretend to be OK when I'm not..she can hear it in my voice.
Old friends can be brutally honest; they are the ones who can say 'yes you've always been a bit X or Y' and 'yes you said that about him too'. They can see your patterns, your hangups, your weak spots and they love you anyway.
Old friends also hold the best of you. They can remind you of all you have achieved when you are feeling like a failure. They remind you of the good times when you are feeling down. They are on your side and can celebrate the parts of you that you might not see clearly or be ready to own yet. Old friends pick up the phone in the middle of the night and listen. They celebrate all your achievements and mourn your losses. Old friends are gold.
If old friends know our history, new friends meet us as we are now, as the person we have evolved into.
Making new friends allows you to be the emergent you, the person you are becoming. We often make new friends doing new things, in new jobs, in new situations and so we can grow into the friendship through assimilating the situation and who we are in it now into our self. New friends see us from the outside whereas old friends see us more from the inside..New friends don't know our story or our history and this gives us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and to transcend our past.
New friends allow us to develop and explore new aspects of our self, we get to try out new ways of being as well as new experiences. New friends challenge us in different ways because they don't know our stories, they don't buy into 'I've never been...' or 'I couldn't....',. New friends take us to new places, introduce us to new people the expand our world now.
We are social creatures and we like to belong. Friends have long been my Soul Family; the family I chose, the family who know me deeply, the people who love me unconditionally. We all need Soul Family and some of us are lucky enough to have actual family as part of our Soul Family too. Soul Family want the best for you, they want you to grow and thrive and shine. Soul Family make you feel more like yourself, make you feel better even in the midst of despair. They make the bright brighter and the dark warmer and less scary.
What kind of friend are you?
We all need friends. We are all someone's friend. When we reflect on what our friends give us, it helps us check out what kind of a friend we are. Do you pick up the phone when you know they need help? Do you support them, listen, accept and love them even when they are doing things which you don't agree with. Do you hold the light for a friend who has forgotten who they are? Do you challenge the friend who is digging themselves a hole? Do you laugh with them, celebrate with them, mourn with them? Are you the kind of friend you would love to have as a friend?
- Your old friends? What do they bring your life?
- Your new friends? What do you appreciate about them?
- Your Soul Family? How do they enrich your experience?
- You as a friend? What is it about you that your friends appreciate?
Whether you have loads of friends or just a few, it is the quality of the friendships that matter. Friends are fellow travelers on life's journey and whether we walk a few steps or the whole journey with us, they enrich our lives, strengthen our purpose and stand with us in the sunshine and the shadows, making life the richer for their presence.
Thank you to all my friends, I love you in my life.