OUT OF LEFT FIELD: I sometimes think least about the things which matter most
Because it’s Sunday (a more casual day, at least in my world), I feel I can write something personal and totally politically irrelevant – just information I stumbled upon which has made my life better, and I want to share.
I was talking to my Mom several weeks ago, and told her she’s my best friend. She said she found that weird, because being my Mom is so important to her, the idea of any other role is kind of discomfitting to her.
(We were talking about it again today, and I told her what I’m about to tell you, which is why I’m bringing it up).
For reasons passing understanding, I apply critical thinking to politics, to my job, to my parenting (you sorta have to in parenting, when they become teenagers and you begin to understand why spiders eat their young, lol) … but I never thought to apply it to my assessment of friendships.
Now, maybe you all have been doing this all along, and I’m just late to the game, but I had never before taken my sometimes-very-analytical mind and applied it to the wheres, hows and whyfores of my valuation of my circles of friends.
I’m going to wildly oversimplify this for the purposes of this column, but I created a series of long lists, and really considered where everyone I know lands upon each.
First, I created a list of categories: Best Friend, Family (which is not always a compliment, ha, ha, but has a great deal of bearing on how steadfast I am prepared to be, for right or for wrong), Friendamily (friend who might as well be family), Close friend, Casual Friend, Friendly Colleague, Facebook Friend, My Favourite teller/cashier/sales rep/etc. … and someone whose friend I pretend to be because we’re both aware we loathe each other, but we have to work together, so being friendly is politically expedient.
Then I created a list of criteria for each.
The number one most important criteria for the first three categories (not including Family) is trust. But then I realized there is a wild array of different kinds of trust: Best Friend Trust looks like this to me:
I trust them to be angry at me but only rarely yell at me, disapprove of some of my choices, piss me off and be problematic – but through all that, I trust them to never, ever, ever give up on me (I also trust my Dad like that, which I find spectacularly cool and lucky, he’s in the smallest category, which is the MINE one.).
I trust them to try to be interested in what interests me. If they can’t (for me, the ‘can’t’ part came during my son’s fascination with anime, the Power Rangers, and the Marvel Universe. I truly tried, but seriously … ), I trust them not to feign interest, and to respect that I groove to it, even if they don’t.
Harkening to my last point, I trust that if they are also interested, or become interested, and they disagree with me, they will a) say so, and b) be okay with agreeing to disagree. We will hear each other’s opinions, but to be in my inner circle means being able to accept that a like-minded outcome is not, and never will be, a foregone conclusion … and to be okay with that.
I trust them to tell my deepest, darkest secrets, the ones that make me so ashamed my skin feels it will crawl right off my body, and to perhaps offer suggestions of new direction I might take, but to love me anyway and not to judge or be angry with me for being less than I should be sometimes. To, in fact, be more gentle with me when they see shame is the driving force in my disclosure, even if the knee-jerk is harsh judgement.
I trust them to, to the best of their ability, act with integrity and honesty. When they fail, as humans are wont to do (myself included), I trust that there’s a reason behind it, and that I’m right not to give up on them. Ever.
To be almost as excited and happy as I am when the Universe does me a solid and things go really right.
To apply all of those things to my son. To love me is to love my son. And my dog. Anyone who is unkind to my dog gets shunted to the last category of loathing. This is non-negotiable.
To tell me if I have toothpaste in the corners of my mouth, an undone fly, toilet paper on my shoe, look fat in that dress … the list goes on, but you get my drift.
There’s for-sure more to it than that, but those are the ones that pop most readily to mind.
I can’t imagine any of this is surprising to anyone but my Mom, who was touched and flattered … but here’s the surprising part, at least for me:
I have many friends whom I would have called close friends, but whom, upon reflection, I don’t really trust. I wouldn’t have them to my house because I’m almost positive they would negatively judge my housekeeping. I wouldn’t tell them about my more private struggles, or share the darker places in my soul with them. I only counted them as close friends because of proximity. I see them more often in real life, interact with them more than others, get more face time with them, have broken bread with them (and food is a huge deal to me).
Conversely, there are people I would have classed as friendly colleagues or FB friends – even people I’ve never actually met in real life – whom I trust absolutely. In fact, I have reached out to several in my darkest hours, felt completely safe in so doing, and felt shored up and stronger because of their friendship. (If you’re recognizing yourself in this description, know you got bumped up in the Kyra Hierarchy, BIG TIME. Which, along with $2, will buy you a cup of coffee, lol).
And the most surprising of all, in the I-loathe-them category: Before I engaged in this exercise, created a bunch of lists with a bunch of boxes to tick off for each, I would have said that loathing/lying list was pretty full.
I was shocked to find it empty.
I guess I’ve used a least part of the past several decades to grow up a bit, because there’s no one with whom I pretend to be friends without actually valuing them for some reason, and there’s no one whom I loathe who doesn’t know it, and doesn’t know why.
It was a time-consuming and annoying process, to sit down and evaluate friendship with the same critical thinking I would apply to any other aspect of my life, but never have bothered to apply to the most important people in my life after my family. How odd.
But I’m glad I did it. If I’m not the only one who never thought to do it, then I want to share the idea. It really changed the way I look at the people in my world.
I now have what I consider to be Empirical data: Mom, you’re my best friend.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, as we say in the Koots.
I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday!