Friend

You. friend. The symbol for friend shows two hands acting in the same direction.

We cannot be friends without trust.

Unless there is trust between friends, there can be no closeness. Once that trust is established, friends can unite to do things in common. Thus, the word for “friend” shows two people acting towards a single goal.

It is said that there are three levels of friendship. The first is the level of casual acquaintance. The second is where there is sharing. The third, considered most deep, is the level where we trust friends to criticize us. Ulterior motives at any one of these levels ruin a relationship quickly, and we cannot call such relationships true friendship. When we are with a true friend, we will know, because we can be open and trusting. Such openess is friendship.

Cynics hold that we should look out for ourselves first. This may be superficially good, but ultimately it will impoverish us. Unless we have friends with whom we can share good times and bad, we will never know selflessness. And not to know the selfless trust of friendship is to miss an opportunity to understand our own best qualities.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao

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Wow. Friendship is such a deep topic for me. It’s really difficult to put all my thoughts about it into words, and would take a long time. Friendships are so important to me, and yet, I have only a very few close, really trusted friends. I have lost three good friends, mostly my own fault because I had an untreated illness I needed to take care of. But those scarring experiences have made me probably too cautious in who I will actually trust now.

One of those friends, who I thought was a deep trusted friend, has many casual acquaintances. I now believe that she mistakes these for deep friendships, but when she really needed a true friend, it was me she trusted, and I never violated that trust. But when I had a deep personal issue, she did violate my trust of her, and that ended our friendship. It also destroyed me. Over the next year, I very slowly went completely crazy, thinking there was no one I could trust anymore. Luckily, I have a very loving husband who is also my very best friend, and he stuck with me and got me through it. I am a lot stronger person now, far happier, and much better able to handle all aspects of my life.

But friendship, well, it is still hard for me. I now have lots of level one and two friends, but those level three deep trusting friendships are still pretty rare.

The other two friendships were male friends I got too close to – not a good situation when one is married. I mistook what I felt for them for something deeper, in my illness. I think this particular illness really affects the feeling areas of the brain and deepens all feelings. The friends I know who share this illness experience life on a completely different level from most people. They laugh louder, cry more often and more deeply, care too much about other people, and in general are just an emotional mess if untreated. But the depth of those emotional experiences leads many to not consider or even discontinue their treatment. It’s a difficult situation.

And when a friend is in the crosshairs of those intense emotions, all bets are off. You just don’t know what will happen. So I fully understand why people didn’t want to be around me like that. It just really, really hurt, considering how intense those feelings were. And, of course, the hurt was also incredibly intense.

Now, being medicated properly and maintaining a very even keel in my life, I look back and am actually somewhat sad for those people, that they had so little faith and trust in me as a person not to stick by me. But, I can’t expect everyone to be there for me. Now, I just try my best to be there for other people, and that seems to work better. I let people be in my life when they want, and don’t care too much when their lives veer off from mine. I have always been pretty happy alone, except of course for when I actually was most alone, and use my time to think, meditate, write, or work on some of my many projects. And, of course, play on the computer.

The funny thing is, I still love those people dearly, even though they never speak to me. And I guess, being who I am, I always will. It’s just now, it’s their loss, and not mine, that they choose to be apart. They have lost the friendship – but I still have it, in my heart. So now, I understand that I have truly never lost a friend, though some have lost me. And perhaps, knowing that I am a person who will never walk away from a friend makes me a better one.

What are your experiences of friendship? Are there people in your life who you can truly trust with anything? That you will let criticize you, and who are not afraid of your criticism? Hang on to those people – they are golden.