Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Foundation of Friendship

Friendships. Many types of friendships are experienced in one’s life. We have acquaintances in which you know someone with whom you’re friendly but you expend no additional time or energy on them except when your paths cross, or one or the other wants something. Then there are the ever-popular virtual friendships of Facebook. “Virtual” is a great word to describe these connections because most have never met in person, connect electronically via IM chats, and have less depth than those of acquaintances simply by the lack of personal contact. These are safe, low-risk emotional investments because they allow people to be someone they aren’t, or the person they are because they lack the confidence to do so in a live connection. There are “common ground” friendships; these bonding connections share something in common: work, a similar life experience, a person in common, past history, etc. These relationships can have depth and be meaningful as these friendships stand on one shared pillar if both parties are willing to expand the friendship by building other pillars for durability. Then there are those friendships in which “everyone” is your friend; genuine caring and concern is expressed for all to a point. Whether on the giving or receiving end, an instant connection of mutual understanding is felt as two people experience validation for the currently churned up misery, upset or turmoil that is experienced in life. Finally, there are those friendships that feed the participants in some way, either temporarily or long-term: sympathy, empathy, validation, confidence boosts, sense of belonging, victim pity, etc.

Each and every friendship mentioned above is valid and valuable in some way, as long as both individuals within the relationship are getting what they need and want. But are they healthy friendships? Are these supportive friendships that endure the rough seas of life and allow each person within it to grow? Do these friendships honor one’s personal power and authentic self-expression; filled with mutual respect, unconditionally acceptance and love? How deeply rooted in honesty and trust are these friendships?

Strong and healthy friendships are built to last on a foundation of trust, unconditional love and acceptance, honesty, and compassion. Just as a house can endure the elements of stormy weather, a true friendship will sustain itself in good times and in challenges through disagreement, crises, life’s transitional curve balls, and even distance. Foundations of frienships must be tended to with a conscious effort and willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain its fortitude. Just as a house foundation needs pest control to eliminate termites that can leave weak spots, and proper drainage to eliminate erosion around its base, a friendship must also be maintained to ensure that its foundation is not weakened or eaten away with pestilent activity such as demeaning language, dismissive regard for feelings, disrespect, or self-righteousness. These behaviors are the “termites” that will kill the longevity and stability of the foundation of a healthy friendship.

In contemplating friendships, I realized I’d forgotten what true friendship is and that I may have taken such beautiful friendships I have in Colorado for granted. I left behind beautiful people who I proudly call my friends. Together, we shared intimate vulnerabilities of the good, the bad and the ugly of our lives, which brought us even closer together as we recognized our soul connections through our human imperfections in our journey towards personal growth and spiritual healing. We unconditionally accept each other, regardless of our choices and human flaws; we see beyond the external into the beautiful Divine Lights within our spirit. We unconditionally love each other without judgment, criticism or condemnation. Through our shared past mistakes, poor choices, heartaches, regrets and less than stellar performances in this life experience, we connected deeply as we built a solid foundation of friendship based not on the "perfection" in which we project to the world, but rather the imperfections solidified in healing to create a united strength. Through this unified bond, we liberated ourselves and each other from the need to be “perfect” in this Life and world. We ceased living a life of lies as we surrendered our facades of “perfection” to express ourselves genuinely, authentically to each other and to all who were a part of our life. Ever conscious to learning from each other, we looked to the other as the example for authentic expression of the truest depths of our hearts.

For me, these are the friendships I find meaningful and empowering. I cherish and dearly miss my spirited friends. They allow me to be me to express whatever is on my mind, be it the good, bad and the ugly, whether they agreed or disagreed. They step up as true friends and lovingly call me out on my crap when I need it, and vice versa, and yet we unconditionally accept and love each other despite our shortcomings without persecution, judgment or criticism. These friends I trust with my most intimate secrets, my fears, and my dreams. We never cheapen or corrode our friendships with divisive gossip, superficial concern, or self-serving manipulation. We have each other’s backs and unconditionally support each other in whatever paths we choose to travel.

Thank you, Laura, Mary, Deb, Barb, Jane, Maggie, Lynn, Ba, Dena, Jan, Jim, Tami, Kelly, Tana, and Cheri. You and the qualities you bring to our friendship are the bench mark for all friendships in my life. Though we are separated by distance, I know the energetic bond between us lives strong. My love and heartfelt gratitude to you for teaching me what true friendship really means!

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