Good friends are rare. Good friends that are healthy for you are even rarer. For me at least… I’ve never had many friends, and obtaining and maintaining them takes a lot of work for me as its not my natural state of being. Over the years I have had many good friendships and some very unhealthy ones as well. Today I’m just going to take some time to talk about them in the hopes that someone can relate. (disclaimer, this only covers people who I have met in real life.)
My good friends came in the 2nd grade. I was given the assignment of finding 2 friends at school and to bring the numbers home so that my mother could setup some play dates. She knew I didn’t have any friends and hoped this would break me out of my shell. It did give me 2 friends (Josh & Derek) even if I stayed in my shell. These friendships were good for years as we all had the same interests and that common ground was enough for us.
Then I moved away from Florida and bounced around a little bit, but the next close friend that I had was in Kentucky (Brandon). This one was also forced by my mother, but to less than ideal results. I did have fun a lot of the time, and I utilized it as an escape from some of the family problems that started to manifest in my life. However, he was actually a bit of a bully to me and anyone else. As time went on his antics went from bully to slashing tires and setting things on fire, including the roof of a car. I didn’t participate, but I didn’t try to talk him out of it either. Thankfully we moved back to Florida as his behavior started to escalate. Last I heard he had spent a few runs in jail for various crimes. I can’t say I’m surprised.
So now I’m back in Florida where my old friends from the 2nd grade are, but things are not like I left them. Derek was starting down a path of substance abuse at the age of 14. I tried to maintain the friendship, but it was difficult because he started to focus more on going to parties instead of just hanging out. About this time my mother made another attempt at getting me friends and they started sending me to a church youth group once a week. This was a turning point for me because I made some friends that ended up branching into other friends. I met my best friend. Went to dances. Had regular get together for bowling. Volunteered as floor crew for the high school color guard so that I could hang out with my friends in guard. Went to different band competitions because I had friends in band as well. Most of the people I was with were not close friends.. I only managed to get a couple of those… and much of the time I was the quiet awkward one, but nobody judged me for it and they excepted me and my inappropriate humor with open arms… It was great… I actually had the energy for it too because I was home schooled and I would use the week days to recover from the madness of the weekend.
Above describes the majority of 14-18 years old. However, at 16 Derek died in a car accident. I don’t know if it was drug/alcohol related, but they lost control of the vehicle on a perfectly clear day in an area where the speed limit was only 40 mph… So it was either drugs/alcohol or just his reckless abandon that lead them to those things in the first place… Either way, it left a scar. Combine that with some other things in my life that I will not speak of publicly (until the other parties involved have passed away at least) and I have never and will never do drugs of any kind or drink alcohol… I know too well what excess in those sort of things can do to people… When I was around 18 my other friend from when I was young (Josh). Started down a similar path as Derek with drugs and alcohol. I tried to be a positive influence and keep him from going from using to abusing. However, they were becoming his life and I severed all ties because I didn’t want to watch something like that happen again in my life. I know that what I did hurt him, but it was not easy on me either. I needed to choose who would take most of the mental stress… him or me… I chose me and I would do it again because his life went exactly the direction I thought it would… He’s alive… and a slave to substance…
My next round of friends was not until after college. I gained them at work in the call center. Its actually funny because my first Christmas party @ work I knew only the people I reported to and I had been there a year. The next one I go to, I have 100ish people introducing me to their spouse, shaking hands, and at the end of the night me and my closest friends are in a hot tub having a good ole time. These friendships are the ones I maintain the most right now. having spent up to 5 years working with them has forged some strong bonds and I have the luxury of these people being at a point in their life where they have already developed into who they would eventually be. I may only see them every few months now that I’m not working there any more… but I’m ok with that because I know their not going anywhere and I don’t have the energy I used to for going out to public places (thanks anxiety).
Cool. So whats the point of all of this? Well… There are several. The first is people change and can grow apart. It doesn’t mean that the friendship didn’t mean anything. Its just life. The second is that I’ve had moments in my life where I had a lot of “friends”, but I’ve always only had a few “good friends” at a time. Don’t measure friends by the number you have. Measure friendship by the strength of the bonds between you. I would rather have 1 good friend than the have everyone in entire world as regular friends.