On Friends

At 29, I was the most alone I’ve ever been.

I was a new mom.

My daughter had been diagnosed with a terrible heart condition that had two symptoms (fainting, death) and no real treatment options. (Thankfully, we later found out she was misdiagnosed.)

I was suffering from terrible postpartum depression.

My husband was a new dad and didn’t know how to deal with a new mom who was suffering from the fear that her new baby was going to die any second and postpartum depression.

I had two female friends. One – a drinking buddy from before I had babies and another – a woman who lived far enough away that our friendship was maintained over telephone calls.

I wouldn’t wish those months on anyone. Ever.

But I realized something.

I needed friends.

And I remembered my grandma telling me that to “make a friend, you have to be a friend”.

I made an action plan.

And I enacted it.

I made friends.

And I made a lot of mistakes.

But my list of friends got bigger.

I remembered my dad telling me that if you have “three really good friends in your lifetime, you’ve lived a good life.”

And thinking he had to be wrong because I had so. many. friends.

I learned I’m not always the best judge of character.

And had to accept the hurts and bumps and bruises of trusting people who didn’t deserve it.

My list of friends got smaller.

And I learned that there are different types and levels of friendship and that’s good too.

I’m still learning.

And sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world who didn’t figure this stuff out in grade school (or middle school or high school).

But I am figuring it out.  I think.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

Not everyone is going to like you.  And that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you, or anything wrong with them.  It just is.

It’s not about finding people with the same lifestyle or opinions or personality.  It’s about finding genuinely good people who will accept you.

Good relationships – whether romantic or friendly – take time to build.

Real friendships allow for disagreements and honesty.   They allow for quiet times and needy times.  They allow for quirks and failings.  They champion successes.

You will have friends and you will have friends.  You will find people you genuinely admire, people who make you laugh, people who help you through life’s bumps, and people with whom you share movies and television shows and books.  Sometimes all of those people will be wrapped in one person.  Sometimes, not.

Loneliness happens.  Even with friends.  You need to learn to deal with it.

Be kind and be honest.  To others and to yourself.

I’m curious.  What are some things you’ve learned about friendship in adulthood?  What do you value in a friend?

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  • Hi Kate,
    I just wandered over here from Rita's site and this post on friendship struck such a chord with me!

    I too, had a very hard time just after our daughter was born. We had moved provinces 8 days after she was born, we had only one vehicle (which my husband took most days to work), and I felt utterly alone and as though the walls were closing in around me. Six months in, I finally met the most wonderful woman, who had a daughter exactly the same age. We're friends to this day (although we moved yet again three years on), and I think I'll be eternally grateful for her friendship.

    It's hard, making friends as an adult, and I too, have learned a few things (good and bad) about friendship as we've moved for my husband's job. I've learned how to recognize a person I should definitely not confide in (a person who gossips); I've learned that some people's lives are so full that they're not interested in taking any new people into their lives, no matter how much you seemingly have in common; I've learned that when someone consistently uses you as a therapist, but doesn't seem to listen to or remember anything you say, that however much you might want to help them, it might be a necessary act of self-preservation to run the other way πŸ™

    And I've learned that, for me at least, young kids are the gateway to adult friends. If it weren't for my youngest (10) I would have no friends here in Ontario (we moved here 4 years ago), which is kind of sad to contemplate.

    Oh, and I just have to mention that I'm a knitter too! Currently making Queen St Mitts for my daughter, who's now 18 – it's my first foray into cables πŸ™‚

    • Hi Marian! I just visited your blog and I have so many things I want to say! First, thank you so much for leaving me a comment. I appreciate you sharing your lessons with me. I can relate to them especially the ones about people with full lives and being a therapist!

      I started knitting when I was pregnant with my daughter and it was another two years before I really had a clue what I was doing. I still feel like I have so much to learn. The cables on the mitts for your daughter are GORGEOUS. And now, I'm going to head back over to your blog and leave some comments on your posts!

    • We both started knitting at the same point in our lives! That's either a really neat coincidence or it speaks to something about pregnancy and knitting and nesting πŸ™‚

      I still have a lot to learn about knitting too. I had always thought cables must be incredibly hard to knit, but as soon as I saw that mitten pattern I just knew I had to try to figure it out. Turns out they're really easy! (Unlike changing colours mid-row – now that's something I cannot seem to get the hang of…). I'm so glad to have found your blog, and am really looking forward to seeing what you're going to be knitting in the future πŸ™‚

      And I want to thank you for leaving a comment on my blog, even though the post was a downer. This whole blogging business can be a bit of a lonely thing sometimes (which kind of ties in with the friendship theme of your post) – you send your words out there and you aren't quite sure how they're taken. It's nice to get feedback, especially if it's a gently put, "a lot of us are worried too, you're not alone, and we're all just trying our best".

  • I feel you on the friends. I whine to my husband here and there about how I don't have the type of girlfriends who you can just "be" with or feel like you can call them just to call or meet up at the last minute, just because. Husbands, after all, you can share with, but they are decidedly *not* the same. I'm sure you understand. Anyway. Wanted to let you know you're not alone (pardon the pun) on this one.

    • Hi Erin! Thank you! It's always helpful to hear the someone GETS IT. And yes, you are right, husbands are wonderful but they are *not* the same. It took me a long time to realize that.