Friendships come in many shapes and sizes, are short or long, continuous, start and stop and resume. The most important friendship is the one least acknowledged and often the hardest to achieve and maintain. Why?
Important friendships are rare.
Recently I saw a call for articles on the topic of “Who changed your life the most?” I did a quick scan and the first person that came to mind was my good friend who died a year ago.
Then I thought of others who have impacted my life in one way or another.
Some people stand out, without a doubt, even where we did not have a friendship as such. Other people have done their bit and their separate influences have merged into a patchwork of wisdom, lessons, dos and don’ts.
But what does ‘changing your life’ mean? I had immediately thought of an important friendship that has / had a positive influence on my life – the helper, facilitator and role model. But what about more challenging, less helpful and more destructive influences? I don’t know about you, but I can think of quite a few.
The most important friendship of all.
Eventually one person came to mind, who has influenced me the most, helped change my life and ensured that I am still here today. It is the single most important friendship in my life.
The reason why I did not think of them first, is probably because it is a friendship that has been difficult for me to allow and maintain.
An important friendship makes you look at yourself and also question yourself.
And there were times, when I did not want that, when I was afraid of the truth. And that’s then I withdrew from this, my most important friendship of all.
I met this person many, many years ago. Sometimes they appear so ancient, as if they have been there forever.
While our paths crossed before, I first took real notice of them in my teens: the time in our lives, when we start to figure out things for ourselves.
I was intrigued. I could not quite understand everything they suggested.
But there were times of inspiration and it made me explore nature and my own creativity. There was hope and there were possibilities.
Some of what this person suggested got me into trouble, mostly with my parents, because I started challenging them.
The person encouraged me to find connections in literature and music. We had many conversations and I wrote many letters.
As I grew up, we lost touch.
To be precise – I lost touch; too busy with studying, working, earning a living, new friends, new joys and new pains.
In all this, there were moments when I missed my friend. But somehow I never felt I could reach out. My life was too different. The friendship would have been incompatible and challenged too much, even the stuff that I knew was not good in the long run – like relationships and jobs. But what else was there?
My friend could have helped me get clarity, but I felt I would not have had the strength and guts to do something about it all.
Eventually, change happened, I made it happen … gently, gently, one foot before the next and two steps back. But there was no going back for good.
Then I felt ready to meet my old friend, reconnect, look them in the eye and open my mind and heart to their love and wisdom. And they welcomed me back with open arms.
Since then our friendship has grown and so have I. The most valuable gift of all from this most important friendship of all is that I have learnt to trust myself and like myself.
So, when thinking about who changed my life, it took me while to think of this friend, even though the answer had been staring me in the face. Literally.
Some days I smile at her, some days I thank her, on too few days do I mouth “I love you” – when I look at her – my self.
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