I’ve known my best friend since we were 18-year-olds who chowed on ramen at 1 a.m., drank too much Zima, and supported the hell out of each other, bad habits and all. We were assigned college roommates and instantly connected the moment I walked into our dorm room and saw her drinking a Diet Coke.
In less than 24 hours of knowing her, I felt I could tell her anything. She just got me. It’s one of those inexplicable things that makes you feel safe. She knew by my giggle on the other end of the phone that I’d had sex for the first time but couldn’t talk about it since my boyfriend’s parents were in the room. “Oh my God, I can’t wait to hear the details. Call me later!”
Her sixth sense has pulled me out of some situations that were hurting my heart by keeping her advice to herself and letting me do one thing: vent. She has this way of not only knowing when I need to talk something through; she knows what I need to talk about even if I haven’t said a word.
I’m not just talking about catching her off guard when she’s on her way to the grocery store and she can tell by the tone of my “hello” that something is on my mind and she says, “I have 10 minutes so, go.” But so much that.
I’m talking about the times she makes me take a seat and says, “I know you’re brewing right now, and you’ll feel better if you talk it out.” Like the time we were entering our senior year of college and I wanted to break off my engagement to my fiance because I knew he wasn’t The One. We were headed out the door to get frozen yogurt with friends and she told me they could wait and I needed to talk it through because I just wasn’t acting like myself.
I’m talking about the kind of telepathic exchange that can only be shared by two friends who are so in tune with each other, they feel physically connected. Like the time my marriage was falling apart and she and I spent a weekend away. She looked across the breakfast table and said,”I think you need to talk about it now.”
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known a friend like this. It’s the kind of bond that doesn’t discriminate against time. It’s rare, and if you’ve been lucky enough to know someone who seems to know what you need even before you do, you don’t let it fade into the sunset. You hang on to that with both hands.
Those friends who can read your mind from across the room are, to me, better than therapy. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been in your shoes or even if they agree with you on certain issues. It doesn’t matter if you met two weeks ago or 20 years ago, in person or online.
Their love is unconditional and they want you to be healthy. That comes first, not their judgment about what you should or shouldn’t do around a situation. They want you to speak your truth, and sometimes that means giving you a little push to do it, to start talking about the elephant stomping around in your head because they know you need to.
To the friends who know what we’re going to vent (or rage) about before we open our mouths, thank you. It’s not often you develop this kind of secret language with another person. How lucky we are to be able to talk across a room with our eyeballs, to be able to recognize that certain twinge in our voices which makes us say, “Let it out. Let it all out.”
To the friends who are our sounding boards, thank you for making time for us on those days when you have other things to do. It’s a huge gift, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank you for encouraging us to verbally barf all over you because you know we will be better off after a good venting sesh.
To the friends who save us energy because we don’t need to bring them up to date on our feelings, thank you for paying attention. Close enough attention so you know by our body language or the tone of our voice that we need to talk to you.
But most of all, thank you for letting us in your life deep enough so that we are able to do the same in return for you.