Forever Friends? - updated!
Perhaps it’s because of Galentine’s, Valentines, hoopla. Or maybe it’s because I was asked to be a guest on BBC’s women’s hour discussing friendship after babies (you can listen here) but all of a sudden I have a lot of time for dismantling what I think about female friendship.
‘You know what Cand, if you’ve got the same friends at 25 that you did at 15, I would worry about your linear progress’ my dad said flatly in response to my cooing about my current best friend.
My fourteen year old self was livid. What did he know anyway? I know that the best friends I’d had before this one didn’t last but thats because we fell out over petty things, or got sent to different schools.
This friendship was special. This friendship was unique. This friendship was FOREVER. I spat.
He laughed in a tone solely reserved for people who know better.
And I too have to giggle along with him.
Off the bat, I’ll admit I’m a bad friend. I air calls, texts and whats app messages but continue to post on social media. With social gatherings such as birthday parties and weddings giving me major anxiety, I have been known to flake at the last minute. And lastly nothing grinds my gears more than the feeling of someone being disloyal. Such disloyalty can be measured in varying degrees but basically if I find you to be lukewarm for a friendship which I perceive to be blazing hot, said friendship comes to an end quicker than you can say ‘BITCH OVERBOARD!’
Yeah, I’m hard work, ain’t no denying it.
One of the questions I was asked on the show was ‘Do you have the same friends as when before you fell pregnant’?
The simple answer is; No.
The more layered, elaborate answer is; things are changing all the time.
I was the first in my friendship group to have a baby. This in itself would send me on a solo journey which no one else would be welcome on. Secondly, and I know this may not be true for all but those youthful, early twenties friendships which are usually underpinned by partying, playing and public displays of attention (no typo) are most often built on sand.
Very few of those friendships have been tested by illness, death or albeit somewhat ironic, infertility. Those friendships are usually formed in more shallow circumstances like being in the same halls at uni (are those what they’re called?), an interest in the same music or feeling as though you’ve met your soulmate as you both still have faith in Sketchers (who am I to judge fashion choices anyway?) or and this perhaps by far the worst kind of friendship, rooted in a dislike for someone else. So basically when a baby comes along, that’s your friendships tsunami. And a bit like mother nature, babies listen to no one and can never, ever be scolded by doing what they’re naturally supposed to do.
So with that said, all of those friendships came to sharp end. I’m not a perambulator. I’m a ‘pull it from the root quick’ kind of gal. Which means that unfortunately for those friends now at the opposite end of my savagery, my disconnect and unwillingness to engage perhaps happened quite suddenly. And to me, overnight feels like fifty years.
This is not to say that I didn’t mourn those friendships. I’m a sucker for love and no one has ripped my beating heart from behind it’s prison bars of a ribcage and danced on it so violently, as much as a ‘friend’. Recovery from that is never quiet finite. And also makes it very hard, to love in that capacity ever again.
It would be problematic of me not to add, that my mothers’ idea of friendship is quite skewed. From as far back as I could remember she would always say things like ‘you stay there trust another woman!’ ‘I can’t with female friends you know?!’ and other negative rhetoric which I’m sure had a long lasting effect on how I approached friendship in the first place. I admit, that i was perhaps always holding my breath waiting for someone to stab me in the back or sell me down a river and that is no way to live a life.
But I’m a little bit older now and with that comes a wider rage of experience and understanding. But that doesn’t mean that the fuck ups are any less.
Only recently have I learned that just because you go into business with someone or are working towards a common goal, this doesn’t mean that you are friends. You are colleagues and the moment you’re outside of the confines of your working relationship, you can go ahead and put your guard back up cause sis, that ain’t your sis.
Another thing and I think from time to time we’ve all gotten a little confused by the blurred lines of social media but just because you kiki with someone in the DM’s or share the same taste in meme’s this too doesn’t mean that you are friends. In a world where being disconnected in the physical makes us pine for digital togetherness, i’ve lost count of the times I’ve had a quick reminder that your DM’s aren’t the real world and sometimes that friendly energy just doesn’t translate in real life and there is nothing wrong with that.
I have also come to accept that true friendship is bound by no human idea of time. I have not blessed my eyes on someone I regard to be one of my best friends for almost two years. Regardless of space between us, I know that should the chips fall where they may, there isn’t a thing we wouldn’t do for each other and I feel so privileged to have experienced that depth of friendship in my lifetime. Aside from him, I’m also very blessed to have a sister whom I trust implicitly. Should I have the overwhelming urge to curse someone out of their name, she is the fist number I call. As a child, I couldn’t predict that I was actually living with my #BESITE but that’s what she has become to me.
I have also become comfortable with the notion that your friendship group needs be massive. If i say I have more than five friends, you’re more than welcome to give me a strike upside the head with a clog (Sweedish Habeens please!) because I’d clearly need to have some sense knocked into me. That’s just not how it is. My friendship circle is so small, it’s more of a full stop and I am fine with that. If we think about the people whom we could call if we found ourselves in trouble which wouldn’t be viewed on as ‘acceptable’ by society but know that they would help us without judgement - those my dear are the only people deserving of the title of ‘Friend’.
Lastly, and I do hope I don’t run the risk of sounding pedantic but as they say, the best friend you can ever have with yourself. In hindsight many of my friendships which I curated in my early twenties were simply put in place as decoys. Not feeling pretty enough? Grab that friend. Not feeling smart enough? Grab that friend. And on that behaviour went until I was surrounded by a bevvy of people who perhaps all had gifts which I had not yet unearthed in myself and so I clung to them in order to help prop up my low self esteem. At almost 31years old, I know I’ve only begun to just scratch the surface on the many ways I can do bad all by myself but I’m happy to say that first and foremost, I’ve got me. I am my best friend and that a bloody freeing position to be in, i tell ya.
Oh it’s a tangled web - this life stuff and it’s ever changing.
But if I could go back into that large Camden pub which was I in with my Dad talking about my latest best friend, I wouldn’t change a thing. The fallouts, the fights, the fakery, fuck, even the friendship was so worth it.
sidenote - upon going to publish this - squarespace let me know that the URL was already in use. How I thought? Scrolling back through the blog it seems I wrote a similar piece in 2017! Wow. Like i said, things are always changing.