As I see it, there are different kinds of friends. There are friends like say, the ones you grew up with. These are the neighborhood kids. These are the ones you go back with. You have history with them and you know the little secrets no one else will ever know because real friends like this keep tight lips—and when something good happens, you smile and you nod proudly because you know the whole story. Friends like this are rare and far and few in between. This is true. It is also true that there are no friends like old friends. I can say this wholeheartedly and with all the love in my heart, there are those who have stood by me throughout my life regardless to the upswings or downfalls and have treated me no differently than this, —like a friend.
Then there are the new friends that you meet and somehow, instantaneously, it is as though you have always known this person and above all, you are grateful for the new introduction. These are the new friends that you meet who have lived in similar ways or have felt similarly about so many things. In some cases, you may have fought through the same battles. Maybe you have similar scars. Or maybe it comes down to a case of interpersonal admiration, which is why we connect.
There are friends that only come around when the moments are bright. They’re the fun time friends. However, when all fails and when the world is seemingly against you, these friends are nowhere to be found. And they’ll see you somewhere outside in the world, almost randomly, and they’ll smile and wave and show compassion. They’ll tell you how they owe you a phone call but life has just been so busy for them. And they’ll apologize for this.
Maybe they’ll give you a hug and say something heartwarming. And this is not because they don’t like you anymore, it’s just that the friendship comes with complication; whereas, previously there was a different benefit, but now the friendship takes effort, and in truth is not everyone has the time to put in the effort. This isn’t as hateful as it seems or sounds. It’s more factual an honest. Yes, the term friends with benefits comes to mine; and I don’t mean this with a sexual attitude, instead, I mean this very plainly —friends with benefits (until the benefits end.)
Obviously you have your true friends whom you can call at any time about anything. You have the friends that you can go a long time without speaking to but when you pick up the phone, it is like no time has passed, and you realize no matter the distance and no matter the time between you, this person will always have a place in your life.
And there are the social media friends. I do not know how this became a legitimate definition in the dictionary but yes, if you look up friends in an up-to-date dictionary, one of the definitions of a friend is a member of your social media network.
Then there are the fake friends and the social parasites and the social climbers that use others to find themselves promoted. There are the friends that will drop you in an instant. There are the friends that will smile at you with a sharp grin and a sharpened knife awaiting the right moment to puncture your back.
And God love them, —then you have the unexpected friends that come along, without judgement and without the request for anything in return. And they come when all is down, and they come with a smile and rolled up sleeves to help you rebuild your life. These friends, like I already mentioned; God bless them all because they come out of nowhere to defy your loneliest moment.
There is a difference between good friends and best friends. There are social friends and business friends. There are true friends too, the kind that would lay down in traffic for you. And yes, there are the late night friends whom, if needed, would come angry and justified by justice, and they would show up with a few baseball bats, a rolls of duct tape and air-tight alibi, just in case and say, “We taking my car or yours?”
There are friends that leave and friends that stay. There are temporary friends that stay during their transition, but once the transformation in their life is complete, they move on, and the friendship is nothing more than a small, positive memory.
I remember years back when I kept a blog on a tattoo website. I had friends like this. They were going through things and since I write openly, they shared openly with me about their life and their world. They told about their struggles, whether the struggles were romantic in nature, abusive, or about childhood terrors, whether it was about suicide, addiction, alcoholism, self-harm, cutting, or depression, I’d receive messages and updates until one day, like a baby bird unable to fly away, eventually, I suppose their wings were strong enough to carry them off. And just like that, they were never to be heard from again.
There are jealous friends too. And I don’t like them much. There are the friends that want good things for you but they don’t want you to be better than them.
There are the people that root for you to fall and when you do, they come in running, to help you. It’s almost a strange version of Munchhausen Syndrome, like when a parent keeps their child sick just to nurse them back to health. And when they see you down, it makes them feel good to know that you are down, and somehow, it gives this kind of friend a position of authority in your life, which is an entirely different thing altogether.
There are friends that put you don’t just to keep you down and submitted in a way that they need you to remain. These are the people that use you like a punching bag. And these are the people we stay with, and yet, we wonder why.
We have to mention family here too because yes, we all have family but that doesn’t mean they are automatically friends we have in our family, such as the cousins we couldn’t live without, or the aunts and the uncles that come by, and when they do, they give a hug, which you truly could not live without.
Then there is us—
We are all of the above in some way. If we are honest, I think we’ve all played a part in the above descriptions.
Last night, I had a business meeting and discussed some of my previous biases towards medically assisted treatment. I regarded my old friend Brian who had asked me to help him for a while. Unfortunately, Brian was not ready for the change and he was not ready to face the anticipations of withdrawal. He was too concerned about the discussions with his counselor at the methadone clinic. Instead, Brian chose to stay as he was, which was fine. About a year after, Brian called me a few days before his birthday. He wanted to try again. He wanted to lose weight too because his depression and lifestyle caused him to bulk up to over 300lbs. He called and left me a voicemail, which I took for granted. His voice was happy. He was excited to start this journey. But I dismissed this message because I was busy and thought to myself that I’d call him later.
Brian died on his birthday. I always felt bad that I never called him back. There are friendships that unfortunately, I admit to have betrayed. There are friendships I’ve lost and friendships I’ve regretted. There are friendships that should have severed, but yet for some reason, I held onto them tight like a rope that slipped too quickly through my hands and in return, I was burned for not letting them go.
As for politics, well, there are political friends that only keep their friendships to serve to their political gain, and should something happen, well, there goes the friendship. I have seen this happen up close and personal.
There are the friends you didn’t know you had because they say nothing and they never advertise their donations to you. Put simply, they give for the sake of giving, and sometimes this goes unnoticed. Sometimes, we might never even know they exist.
Above all and most importantly are the only friendships worth having. If any friendship is to be real or valued; or, if any friendship is to be productive and ongoing, then this relationship would have to be mutually beneficial and equally reciprocal. Sometimes one has to breathe out so someone else can breathe in. One-sided relationships have the ability to be deadly —perhaps not literally, but figuratively speaking, broken hearts are painful things. One-sided friendships are famous for this.
No one among us comes without personal error or flaw. We all have our things. I do you and you do too. But a real friend never judges this. They just remain without question. Real friends will push you to be better. They will be there in good times and bad. They will weep when you weep and cheer when you cheer. Real friends root for you and when you succeed, it feels to them as if they have succeeded. And it’s not that a real friend won’t let you down. And it’s not that you won’t ever let them down either. But more importantly, as real friends, you accept each other and have the fortitude to continue your life long investment with each other.
I often regard one of my oldest friends as a brother of mine. We don’t speak anymore due to fallout on my part, which I regret to admit was on me. I also regard another old friend who lives elsewhere and has a much different life. We don’t speak and we don’t send messages anymore. We don’t call each other and we probably wouldn’t regard each other as friends now, but there was a time, like say, way back when in the first grade, we were little kids, running around and just having fun.
Be mindful. Beware. Be understanding of who we choose to involve in our life. Be careful with whom we trust because not everyone keeps a secret and not everyone has our best interest at heart. Not everyone will keep your secret, especially once the friendship is over, and not everyone understands the words, “Between you and me,” are supposed to be kept between you and them.
God Bless the true ones because they are truly rare and far and few in between.
These are the people I value most