Be Who You Are and Be That Well
[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
A Farmgirl friend and I were discussing loss of friendships. I haven’t lost a lot of them; as a matter of fact, I can count only one. I am not talking about the kind of friendships that just fall away, or those whose purpose has played out according to the old adage that people come into our lives for “a reason, a season or a lifetime.”
I don’t count as a loss those friends who came for a reason, or a season either, and then depart. I am grateful for them and the lessons and strength they brought with them. Rather, I am referring to those who came into our lives and whose purpose wasn’t truly played out…those who don’t fall into the three categories. I am talking about friendships that didn’t come to a natural close, but rather died without warning.
Sadly, I know that I am not alone in this phenomenon. I have sat and listened to many friends “recount” their own stories, trying to wrap their heads around what just happened, with no answer presenting itself. I can honestly say that it doesn’t become any “more clear” through the eyes of experience or by watching someone else go through it.
My own experience happened years ago, and it has taken that amount of time to finally be okay with it. This person and I were inseparable. I really, genuinely loved spending time with her and we were in every way equals, both bringing a balance to the friendship table. She was the “ ying to my yang”. Our husbands were even friends. It was glorious, or so I thought. I could have not been more shocked had I been hit by a bus when the day came that we “broke up.” Okay, it wasn’t even a breakup…I was dumped like a hot potato.
To this day, I can’t tell you what happened. Every attempt to make it better just seemed to make it worse. For years, the pain was so bad that I literally didn’t think I could breathe. In the rare instances that we ran into her and her husband, I found myself in desperate need of a brown paper bag to breathe into. I would have done anything to fix it had I been given the opportunity. In the months and years that followed, I was deeply affected by the loss, so much so that I wasn’t really sure my heart would heal. But of course it did. We are very resilient aren’t we? I never did understand why it happened, but here are some valuable lessons that I have learned from the experience. (Yes, I can now say she was a friend who came into my life for “a reason”.)
The first thing that I learned is that true friendship forgives anything. I cannot imagine not forgiving a friend for anything they might say or do or be, if they came and asked for forgiveness. We all have those stupid moments. Blame it on hormones, or past experiences, or insecurities or whatever. If the friendship had meant to her what it did to me, there would have been a way. I believe that there had to have been something harboring there, but either way it was mine left to deal with.
Secondly, true friendship is always a two-way street. A forever friend sees you through the same lens that you see them. Your brilliance and talent and glory needs to shine, as brightly in their eyes as theirs does in yours. They have to know your heart like you know theirs, and they have to be willing to filter things based on who they KNOW you are.
Lastly, you can only be who you are. If the friendship requires you to be anything less, then it isn’t a friendship. My healing moment came when reading a simple quote from St. Francis de Sales that read, “Be who you are and be that well.” I found so much freedom in those little words. I had gotten to the point where I felt so misunderstood and misjudged by her and by those that she was willing to draw into the drama that I was frozen in fear any time I saw any of them. “Do I say something or not say something?” “Do I approach them or not approach them?” I knew there would be no right thing to do. I hated that she/they had painted me to be this person that I and those who truly loved me knew I wasn’t. It about broke me.
But then, from out of nowhere, there it was—the best advice I had received during this whole mess (and counseling)…JUST BE ME. I could do that! I let that little phrase govern me all the time now. I don’t act guilty if I am not, I don’t back down if I shouldn’t, and so on. Not that I am perfect. I am not. Yet, I know me. I know that I am willing to change the things that I need to change, and I have surrounded myself with people who love me without conditions…people who I trust to tell me where the rough edges are. I know they know me by heart.
At the time, I couldn’t see that this person possibly was never meant to be here for a lifetime, that her friendship was for a reason. The experience showed me that being accepted for who I am is really the only way that true friendship can grow. I can’t be someone I am not, not even for someone that I love. It is a disservice to my own spirit to place someone else’s view of whom I should be ahead of who I know that I am.
My heart has completely mended, although it has taken time. Life has provided me with a best friend who gets me. She calls me on my “stuff” and defends me to the death. There are not words to describe the freedom that comes from the lack of judgment in those types of friends.
Any of us who have been around for a while have loved and lost at some point. So here’s to us—to those who have woken up on the other side of the loss and learned that we are okay. And if you’re still in the healing process, I am handing over my little healing salve. Take the time to write it out on everything you have…your bathroom mirrors, your refrigerator, your car’s dash…stitch it on a pillow that you rest on your bed. We all know, somewhere in us, who we are meant to be. So BE that.
“Be who you are and be that well” ~ St Francis de Sales