If you are as fortunate as I am, you have found the invaluable friend who has stood by your side through every difficult moment. It’s her phone number on my favorites list that my finger reaches for instinctively when I need to cry and let out the buildup of pain. She consoles me and encourages me before we quickly switch to laughing together. Although we only found each other later in life, she is a soul mate, a godsend.
There is also the friend who I barely ever see yet who transports me to a time in my school days when I was young and carefree and madly in love with the boy who is now my husband. I may not see her often, but she brings the cheeky smile of youth to my face each time we stumble across one another.
Just as indispensable are my allies in life, the feminists who fight the good fight with me, boost me up, bolster me when I need it. They share the same values and support me to keep pushing for the rights I hold dear. We send newspaper articles back and forth, discussing their meaning and relevance to our lives. There is a connection of minds. We are more than just friends, we are comrades, sharing a unique intellectual bond.
And who doesn’t enjoy the friend on the dance floor, the music buddy who is my go-to when the rhythm is my release. She gets it. It is not a deep, profound friendship, but it is cherished and enjoyed for what it is. This friend makes me feel fun and energized.
And then sometimes I notice the friendships that drag me down.
There is the friend with whom I end the phone call and immediately feel regret. Why did I listen unresponsively to the gossip I was just told? Why did I not open my mouth and tell my friend to stop speaking so freely about the intimate details of another friend’s life, details I should not be privy to and felt uncomfortable hearing. Instead of feeling positive after our conversation, I feel a sense of negativity.
You know those friends, the ones who invite you for dinner, then you invite them back, soon followed by another invitation back to their home again. The cycle goes round and round, even though neither of you can really recall why you first became friends and whether you have anything in common anymore.
Traumatically, there is also the friend who broke your naive heart when you found out she had been talking behind your back, judging your parenting and openly criticizing you. You should have realized this earlier, yet you tend to hide from the agonizing truth, basking in the bliss of ignorance.
At the age of 43, I have amassed a long list of friends, adding new, crucial confidantes along the way but rarely letting go of any. It’s not easy to face reality and let go of a friendship that is adding nothing positive to my life.
At the age of 43, rather than tidying up my cupboard Marie Kondo-style, it feels like it’s time to tidy up my friendships and be honest with myself about the ones I want to hold on to and the ones I can let go of. I need to evaluate the precious time I have, how to spend it and with whom. It is time to move away from some, move closer to others, and allow space for new friendships to form.
It is time to go through each and every friendship I have, hold the memories close and ask myself one question honestly: Does this friendship spark joy? If the answer is no, it is time to say ‘thank you’ and let the friendship go.
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