What is a "real friend" anyway?
I read a post on Instagram recently from the wonderful Donna Ashworth (see her work here), and it brought up a whole host of emotions in me. Here's the quote:
It's ok to feel sad about the friends you have "lost" along the way, but truly, they were never yours to keep. Real friends don't need to be earned, or appeased, or coaxed. They are in it for the long haul and for all the right reasons. And each of those friends is worth a dozen fair-weather, so count your lucky stars if you even have one. Keep your circle small but let its light be mighty. You can't lose real friends, they just won't go.
If you have read my book, you will know that I had a long-term friendship which ended. If you haven't read my book, (quick recap) I was friends with an incredible woman for seven or so years. She introduced me to many different things, and helped me develop self-confidence and body acceptance. It was a deep, intense friendship which in the end became my priority over family and other friends. It ended because my friend felt I wasn't supporting her in the way she needed, and I couldn't give any more. But if the friendship ended, does that mean it wasn't real?
I have had past friendships that have lasted a few months to a few years; friendships at school and college, they were real. Virtual friendships with people I haven't met (yet), or people I see only once of twice a year. Friends I have known for many years but see infrequently, and we fall back into our easy relationship instantly, these friendships are real! I know who I can call in a crisis or for support, and they know they can call me. Just because we don't speak or text daily doesn't mean we're not "real friends".
It took me a long time to trust "new friends" after this particular long-term relationship ended. I mourned the loss for many months. I have doubted myself, ruminated on interactions if I don't get an immediate reply from a friend, believing I have done something wrong rather than realising that they are probably just busy. It has taken me years to unlearn behaviours which seemed normal and expected in the relationship before it was lost.
I have different circles of friends now. Some overlap, others are completely separate, but they are all precious to me. I think fondly of friends I haven't seen or heard from for years. I enjoy seeing what friends are up to on social media, and having those impromptu "virtual chats", sharing stories and photos.
Friendship means different things to everyone. And, I believe, even the shortest friendship is a real friendship.
What do you think?
With much love, as always,
Anna x x