This post has been written and edited and deleted and rewritten about ten thousand times. In my mind. It probably would have been easier to just type it, save it and edit at will. But who likes an easy life? Not me, that is for sure! So here we are, typing this for the first time.
They say, "You Live, You Learn". There is a little truth in that. The larger truth is that no matter how many times you seem to be schooled, some mistakes are bound to happen again. It is not that you are too dumb to understand. It is just that some lessons come disguised in many different forms and yet end up with the exact same consequences.
Friendships are a lot like that. They come in many forms. And every time we keep the faith and our hopes high and think "come on, I am not going to make that person pay for whatever hurtful backstabbing others have put me through before". And you give new people a chance. Which is great because this is how you let new partners into your life. This is how you bring new support to your person, your spirit and even your family. And this is how you allow yourself to grow into a larger human being. A person that can hold other persons in her heart and love them for who they are and who they are to you and those you love.
And as you grow older you realize that these wins are not common. They are actually quite rare.
But you also realize that you are no longer in high school. That popularity is not measured by the crowds of people who follow your every step (and hair flip) as you march down your kingdom's halls every time the bell rings. (OK, for the record, that was so not me. I was the extra skinny one with the big nose which does not make for popularity material. Anyhoooo).
The inevitable lesson is: you do not need ten thousand friends. Sorry Facebook. I am bound to ruin it for you because you are setting impossible standards and quite frankly, lies as truths.
Friends on social media are fine.
Actual, real friends, those made of flesh and bones and blood, and that you meet in person, they do not come as easily as a click on "Accept".
So you meet new people, you hang out with them and after a while, it becomes apparent whether these people are yours to stand by you and hold in your heart and life or if they are just passing by.
Some of them will shock you. You will think that after giving all you had and all your time (which you do not have much of) and all of your attention and care, those will be the ones who stay. They will not.
So the second lesson you will need to learn is to let go. Even if you feel cheated. Even if you feel hurt. Even if you feel that after all you have invested, it is a shame to just drop everything and go. You will need to fight that urge to try and reason with them and get them to understand and agree with you. You will need to just let go.
But the good thing is that others will stick around. And they will make your life so much better for it.
How will you know who they are?
Well, here are a few tips, in no particular order or preference ;)
(you are so welcome):
1. THEY LOVE YOU AND THEY SHOW YOU. They will stand by you through the years, no matter who comes and goes and no matter what begins and ends.
One of these friends is Elsie. We have known each other for over a decade and a half. And against all odds, we are closer than ever. I say against all odds because our friendship started when her brother and I got into a relationship. When that ended, the natural course for us would have been to break up too. Or drift apart at least. To be honest, I forget how we met. I just know her as my friend. Stand alone. Not connected to anyone else. We lived in different countries for years and somehow kept in touch and reconnected face to face when we reunited in Dubai. This one is for the long haul. She is here to stay. I know it and I love it. She is there for me. She knows all and does not judge and she speaks the truth in words that I can hear, not words that make her feel good about herself when she hears herself speak them. She loves my family in the same way that my sister loves my family. She is my family too. She is the one who will still be there when all the others have left. I can totally see us, having coffee, with our white hair and shaky hands (what can I say, that much caffeine is bound to leave us shaky) reminiscing about our glorious past and probably her telling me stories that I had long forgotten before walking me home because my Alzheimer's would have become so bad by then that I could not remember where I lived. It has already started.
2. THEY CARE FOR YOU AND THEY TELL YOU BUT THEY DO NOT BULLY YOU. And there is a huge difference. "The truth hurts but you need to hear it" they say. "Fuck you" I say. What do you think, that I am blind? Or maybe dumb? I know the truth. I see that truth every day as I live with that truth. I do not need you to reveal it to me. And I certainly do not need you to shove it down my throat (and probably enjoy it in the process). Those who care will speak the truth in the same way they will extend their hand to you and lift you up and help you back on your feet and maybe even climb a few more steps next to you to get you closer to the top.
One of these friends is Farah. She sees me. She loves me. And she cares. She definitely does not want me to die at 40. So she will do her best to keep me alive without killing my spirit or breaking me (or my heart) in the process. The other day, Farah and I were walking past a glass window and I just chocked. I told her I could not stand that reflection I was seeing. That I hated me and how I looked. Of course, Farah sees I am overweight. She too is not blind nor dumb. She could have preached the usual condescending crap I hear "I told you, you need to exercise, how many times do I have to tell you? You need to shape up!" and although all of that may be true, she said something else. She started with "First of all, it is not that bad. What you are seeing is a distorted reality. You are not ugly. Yes, you need to loose some weight but what you are seeing and the way your are seeing yourself are not the reality. You are exaggerating". And although I think she sees a different reality because she loves me and I know mirrors and scales do not lie, I know she also meant it. She truly meant it. And that is why I go to the gym with her. There are people I will never, ever, go to the gym or God Forbid, to the pool with. Because their looks and even their words (some think they have been given a divine pass to say whatever shit they want) are enough to break me. Bullies are the worst. Farah is the best. That is why I am not afraid of being vulnerable in front of her. That is why I can talk to her in all honesty. Because she does not judge or bully me. Instead she is kind. And it is armed with that kindness and support that I agree to go with her to the gym. It with armed with her friendship that I will actually get healthier. Because her goal is not to feel some sense of satisfaction by preaching me. Instead, she truly wants me to be healthier and not die at 40.
3. THEY WILL NOT REPORT YOU FOR BEING A BAD FRIEND. Some people think there should be a penal system for bad friends. And if they could, they would totally report you to the police for being bad citizens of Friendistan. Or for lack of better options, they will report you to your husband. Because your husband is your HR Manager and he is in charge of keeping you in line. If you do not answer calls or texts. If you do not return calls or texts. If you do not meet as frequently as it is expected of you (nevermind what your expectations are). I will not name and shame. But you can be sure, you if you have gone to my husband who you know by proxy, through me, to confide in him about me (as if he was your best friend or confidante) and badmouth me (because this is exactly what it means when you speak negatively of me behind my back), you are out. Outer than out, even. If there ever was an outtest place out there, this is where you are. Because I will not be bullied or have you enlist my husband to bully me on your behalf. I will not be schooled either. And I will not be punished on my naughty chair. You know why? Because I am not a child and you are not Super Nanny. I like Super Nanny. You? Not so much.
Mayssa is a perfect example. No, come on. She did not do all of the above. She would never. She freakin' rox! She is the awesomest out there! She is my twin sister from another womb. She is me, expect Lebrian*. You know, another version of me who speaks English with perfect Britishity (it has been established on this blog that I reserve the right to make up words if I want to) and Arabic with a badass Syrian flair! Now Mayyoussa is sweet as honey. If she walked down the street and found a homeless person, she would empty the contents of her purse and give all and then she would be completely devastated if she passed by another homeless person because she would have nothing but an empty purse to give. Which she would give. That is how sweet she is. Well that same person never picks up the phone or answers a text. If she does, it is usually with at least a ten-day delay. And that was before she had a baby. Imagine now. What can I say, she lives on another parallel universe and her time zone is way off. I love her and she knows it. Her husband knows it. We have known each other since before we were born. Our parents know each other since before they were married. But I would never, ever, ever, in that universe or the parallel one where she lives, would think it is OK to call her husband. Whom I absolutely love too by the way and with whom I am extremely friendly. I would never think to call to ask how she is, let alone complain of how rude and absolutely out of line she can be for not answering me. Not because I am a pompous preacher bitch. I would not do all of that because I trust in our friendship, in her and her integrity and I know she is not answering because she can not. Or does not feel like it at the moment. Not because she is the malicious evil spawn of Satan. (Also I know that if, God Forbid, something bad had happened, I would hear about it without needing to call).
*(Lebanon + British + Syrian)
4. THEY WILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME AND DISTANCE. Those friends are like little treasures kept in a capsule. They show up, the capsule opens and it is as if time had frozen and all of a sudden, global warming did its thing and all that ice melted. And there they are. In front of you. Exactly as they were when you last saw them and folded them and sealed them in that capsule.
Mona and Reem are two of those friends. They make me laugh and take me back to a me that I miss and love. Do not get me wrong. I love my life today. But who does not miss who they were a couple of decades ago? If you said "Me", you are either way to young to be reading my blog (go play with your dolls or something) or a complete insensitive robot.
There are others like that, like Dyala and Hala and Amane and Nivine and Rabih who I do not get to see as often (I never get to see Mona and Reem so that makes this last statement even worse). Somehow when we get together, it is as if we had never left. I feel the love. I feel the care. I feel all that is true. And I need that with all the fakers I keep letting in (why, oh why). These guys, they keep the young me safe, the teen me, the fun me. They make sure that me stays alive and well. And I should definitely make sure I see them more.
What the duck, people, for real now?!
There are other people out there who are as awesome. People who are there for me and my family. Good friends. Great friends. I could not list them all for the purpose of keeping this as concise as possible. I have a tendency to drift (have you noticed how many parentheses are up there?) and it makes it all harder to follow. But these friends know who they are and I recognize their presence, their person and the wonderful effect and value they add in my life. And I love them so much for being them and being there.
This one goes to all the friends, with Love! ;)
Find this blog on Facebook