“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

― Henri Nouwen

“Hey There M! Whenever you read this blog, I request you to go to Unsaid. I am running out of ideas at this point and this is the best that I can do”

So what are friends? Friends are these crazy individuals who adopt us with little to no expectations. They just show up when you need them, sometimes show up to bug the hell out of you, they’re sometimes your biggest teachers, your biggest supporters but above all, they are just these individuals who you can be yourself with without worrying about them judging you. True friendship is such a beautiful bond to have that it surpasses everything else there is. I would go as far as to say that I started to feel closer to my mom when I started to see her as a friend.

A beautiful incident happened today which prompted me to finally write a blog on friends, something that I had been delaying writing about for quite a while. For, the past 2 years, I had been struggling to say my truth to a very close friend. This particular friend is like my family away from my family, and I love her to the core. However, I had been afraid to open up to her about a part of myself that only a few knew about because I was scared that I’ll lose her if she knew my truth. Today, when I had asked her for advice on something that had been bothering me, she mentioned a message that I had sent her last year under the influence of alcohol. Turns out, the part about myself that I had been struggling to open up to her about for the last 2 years was not exactly a secret to her. Last year, I had texted her my truth but I was too drunk to remember it. When she mentioned that text, I kept staring at her for minutes before I could form any words. But, before I could say anything, she went on to make me feel comfortable and removed any fear that I had of her abandoning me after knowing my truth. I have never felt more loved and accepted in my life than I did today. She had known my truth for the past 1 year yet only brought it up today because somewhere there lay the answer to my struggle. I have no words to express how elated I feel today 🙂

The way my friends have always shown up to show me their love and support makes me believe in the power of unconditional love. Last year, I lost my job due to Covid. When I was struggling to find my strength, my friends from every corner o f the world showed up to show me their support. While a couple of friends immediately started contacting everyone they could to help me get a job, a few made themselves available to me with all they had. A friend who went to become one of my closest friends, spent hours speaking to me over the phone to comfort and encourage me to carry on with my job search & tried her best to support me while she was trying to do the best she could to deal with the way Covid had impacted her job and day-to-day life. She, later, went on to become my biggest motivator to accept myself.

Then, I have another friend who, from miles away, continues to care about me and listen to all my illogical thoughts and sometimes illogical feelings. This particular friend is a born mom & had decided to adopt me without really giving me a choice. I have a friend who feels like my soul sister whom I confide in with my deepest secrets. Every conversation with her makes me feel like I am home. Another friend who has been acting like my pillar since high school has seen me at my worst yet accepts me with all my flaws. Yet another friend knows me better than I know myself since undergrad and is not afraid to call my bullshit on my face. And there is another friend who showered me with her love and support when I really needed help. Who am I without these wonderful people who without expectations decided to spend their time and energy on me? How can I not be grateful to these powerful relationships that have offered me more love and support than I thought I even deserved?

I have been in relationships, I have had crushes and I have some crazy extended family members. While I have felt close to these individuals, these relationships could never provide me the security and safety that my friendships had. To start with, I never felt the need to hide any part about myself from my friends, and they’ve always encouraged me to follow my heart instead of succumbing to their expectations of me. I could show up, be myself, tell them about my past mistakes and be vulnerable with them and, yet, they would not stop loving me. There would be no threats, no jealousy, and just pure honesty and love. They would not fight with me for being me and never tried to change me so that they could accept me. They would scold me whenever they saw me going on the wrong track. I once had a friend scold me in front of an audience when she mistakenly assumed my desire to get a temporary tattoo from a shady shop with a permanent tattoo. It was hilarious to see her get red hot with anger! However, what her anger told me was the depth of her love for me.

And that’s the beauty of friendship. We fight, we makeup, we yell, we make mistakes yet we never abandon each other. We continue to love each other through thick and thin. We establish boundaries with each other and respect each other for who we are. We don’t unnecessarily lie to each other and accept each other’s past. We forgive each other and continue to stand with each other through the biggest challenges. We don’t try to make the other person feel bad about expressing his/her deepest desires and don’t put conditions on each other. We continue to motivate each other to follow our dreams and continue to cherish each other’s success. We just live and speak the language of love through our actions and words without expecting the other person to mirror our language.

That does not mean that it’s always all rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes, conflict arises, misunderstandings happen, trusts get broken and feelings get hurt. At such times, having someone whom we can talk to openly about what hurt us, what we could do better in the future, and respecting one another often helps to re-establish friendships. A very close friend and I once had such a rough phase when I was committed to spending my time and energy with people who were only bringing me down. I was madly in love with a guy who was neither good for my mental health nor good for my growth. At the same time, I had another friend who had no space for me but would not fall short of abusing my love for her in every way imaginable. It was a hard time for me where I had lost touch with myself and had become a supporting actor in my own life’s story. I was too scared to let these people go because I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t find anyone else and that, if only, I tried harder I could make things work. The entire experience had a huge impact on my self-worth until one day, I gathered the strength to end these toxic relationships. Throughout this experience, my close friend kept trying to help me get out of the situation in every way she could. But, me being me, continued to disregard her and, one fine day told her that we need a break. It took me 3-4 months to contact her again, apologize for my mistakes and “get back on track”. My luck, she accepted me back and we continue to get stronger with years.

My experience has told that me that if both friends are committed to maintaining a relationship, then, no way force can put them apart. They will always find a way back. If anything, the friendship would be stronger than ever before because the time apart helps them understand the value of one another in each other’s lives. This is not to say that some friendships don’t end. Sometimes the endings could be too painful. But, I feel that that happens when the friendship was one-sided from the get-go, priorities changed, people evolved in different directions so much that they didn’t have anything in common, or when the friendship was not based on unconditional love but was based on the needs of the hour. However, true friendships survive it all.

How to know if the friendship is real? To me, I find it to be real when I feel at peace when I am around a person. I don’t worry about how they would perceive me because I know that they love and respect me. I don’t worry about confiding in them my deepest secrets because I know that they will never use that information to hurt or judge me. I trust them to have my back in my absence because I know that’s how much they respect my presence in their lives. I learn from them because we’re not acting out of co-dependent love but continue to grow in our lives while supporting each other in every way possible. We forgive each other for our mistakes and don’t hold grudges because we recognize that we’re both humans and that “to err is to human”. We’re not afraid of telling each other how much we love and miss each other because we know that we’ll never be too much for one another. After every fight, we find a way back to one another because we’re not afraid of accepting our mistakes. We are not scared of having tough conversations while respecting each other because we recognize that while we can’t change the other, we can try and help the other be the best version of themselves. We don’t belittle each other for things we don’t approve of but simply hold space for them to be themselves without worrying about being abandoned for telling their truths. Above all, no matter how long we don’t talk for or how far apart we are, we continue to hold a space for them in our hearts because we recognize their value in our lives.

True friends are our mirrors. For me, they are my biggest strengths and are irreplaceable. My friends don’t need an approval from someone else because they all have a separate place in my heart. I am humbled to have met these people in this life and hope I do justice to the love that they’ve showered on me. A friend once told me, “People will come and go but our friendship will remain”. I couldn’t agree with him more.

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