Vok of, ek het genoeg vriende OR: Fuck off, I have enough friends
My recent trip back to South Africa has, as I had expected, shifted an enormous amount of "stuff".
One of the things I came to realise while enjoying the energy and company of my friends out there was that I have some pretty high quality, super-amazing, awesome people in my life. Every one of my friends is supportive, loving, understanding, challenging and an absolute JOY to be around. Even Gavin and Ralph, who I hooked up with after not seeing them in 16 or 18 years, were downright brilliant and it was as though there was absolutely no time that separated our last meeting.
I am extraordinarily lucky to have these people in my life. And extraordinarily spoiled by having, what I call, Quality Friends - some going way back (20 years is the most), some relatively new (18 months) and some online friends that have only emerged in the last few months.
I had a long chat with Dori while I was in SA about friends and friendships. Very good talk. She had said that she had all the people she needed in her life, good solid friends who stood by her. I realised that the deepest connections I have are with the friends who I have in South Africa. They are the people I grew up with, the ones that know me the best, the ones who have stuck by me (20 years in Dori's case!). They've loved me despite my tirades, stupid mistakes, depressive episodes, inexplicable behaviour and long radio silences. They have laughed and celebrated with me, cried with me, been creative with me, shared secrets with me and witnessed my personal tragedies. They have listened to me drone on about my problems, rail against the world and put forward bizarre theories on life (most likely whilst drunk)
Geneen Roth, in her book, "When You Eat At The Refrigerator, Pull Up A Chair" has said that you should really let go of people (friends) who don't want the best for you. She cites people who scupper your attempts to get well, give up the cigarettes, lose weight... people who put you down and bring you down and who would rather spend an evening picking the scabs off their own (and your own) wounds. (I use this last example metaphorically. I sincerely hope no one reading this has a friend who would physically pick scabs off their friends!) Her ideas are based on the fact that once you start getting well and recovering a sense of self, you are not going to tolerate these things in other people and nor will you find it helpful to your healing to hang out with them.
So I discovered when I sat back in the plane after consuming my teeny-tiny dinner that in fact, I did know some people like that. I call them psychic vampires.
Then I remembered my motto for the year: LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR BULLSHIT. Do I really want to share my energy with people who do not want what's in my interests or do I want to build Quality Friendships with people who do? The next thought was quite sobering: If I want to have friends who are on my side, I have to be a friend that is on the side of the people I care about.
If I want to continue the friendships I have with these fabulous people in my life, I too have to become fabulous. I too have to be strong, loving, supportive, understanding. I too have to listen without judgement while they rail against the world and discuss the universe (most likely whilst drunk). I have got to be the kind of friend I would like to have.
Life IS too short for bullshit, but always big enough for true friends.
Thank you to all the people in my life and all the people reading this. Thank you for your advice, support, love, tissues when needed, shoulder to cry on and for sticking by me even during those moments you may have felt I was genuinely nuts. You are special, fantastic individuals and it's my aim to become the kind of friend to you that you have always been to me.