There's nothing like a BFF, but what happens when you have a new best friend every couple of years?
By GalTimer Dana Keller
Patricia. Galen. Mary. Cheryl. Myra. Barbara. Kathy. All very, very close friends of mine at one period of time in my life or another to whom I never or rarely speak anymore. I have heard the sayings about some friends being friends for a time and others for a lifetime, but I've never been able to reconcile my heart with my head on that one. That I have somehow managed to lose so many close friends over the years has been a source of pain for me for quite some time.
Other women talk about their best friends from grade school or high school, girls that grew up in their neighborhood and were Maids of Honor at their weddings. Girls, now women, that they meet once a year in Vegas, or go on cruises with, giggling about old times. I don't have that. I just don't. And I've struggled to understand why.
I didn't move around growing up. I didn't change schools or have any of the common circumstances you would think might cause this lack of a posse. I lived in basically the same neighborhood until I was 38 years old, so why have I not been able to maintain lifelong friendships? Sometimes I wonder if, rather than being due to some shortcoming of mine, it's part of my mission in life. I am the short-term best friend.
Although my physical surroundings didn't change a lot over the years, I think I have. I think in most cases with the women I mentioned above, our lives just took different paths. We shared short, intense friendships at very difficult times--whether it was struggling to fit in at school, or to parent new babies, or to face our husbands' depression--and our relationship was a venue for us to share, vent, and feel understood. Once those circumstances changed, along with our needs, we simply moved on.
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I did finally relocate at age 38, from Washington to Arizona. That further complicated the friendship issue. Friends who I felt were like sisters to me, suddenly fell off the map. And making new friends has been much, much harder than I anticipated. So here I find myself at 43 in a friendship crisis, thanking God that my husband is my best friend, because I'm not sure what I would do without him!
But all women know, as great as husbands can be, you need girlfriends. There is something about the camaraderie of your gal pals that can't be replaced by anything else. Now don't get me wrong...it's not as if I have no friends. I've got some very good friends that I really enjoy spending time with, even if it's less often than I'd like. But I don't have that gaggle of friends that just knows you. I can probably think of eight or ten women between Seattle and Phoenix that would protest at reading this, saying, "But DANA, I am your good, better, best friend!"
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And it's true. There is Katie--who despite living in Seattle has pretty much talked to me or computer chatted with me every week for the last five years. There is Rachel--who is my soul-searching buddy. Lisa is my work/mom/ADHD confidant. There are my "partners in crime" from my son's school--Sara, Amy, Laura, Angie. And today I'm having lunch with my "play" mate--Cara. Don't forget my writing group. And my neighbor, Barb, who is my workout and Bunco buddy. And Lucy—my "get out of your boat" and "go big or go home" friend (and believe me, you can only have one of those!).
And recently, thanks to Facebook, some old friendships have been rekindled. On my last visits "home" I've reconnected with Mary, Myra, Cheryl and a bunch of friends from high school--Lisa, Julie, Kris. So, what's the whining about, Dana? Where's this shortage of friends about which you speak?
It's true, there is no shortage of women in my life. Yet, I still feel alone. It's as if we flit in and out of each other's days and years like little moths, there one minute, gone the next, our friendship lying dormant until the next time we meet. "Fitting in" continues to elude me. Finding that group of women who, together, provide unconditional acceptance and love, and lots of crazy fun times. That feeling that comes from sharing so many experiences together? It's missing for me.
I am working on shifting my mindset. Instead of feeling sorry for myself about not having this elusive "group of best friends," I want to enjoy the many friendships I do have. I want to appreciate the "friends for a time" that seem to come in and out of my life, teaching me and learning from me, giving and receiving. I want to embrace the ebb and flow of special women with whom God seems to grace my years here. So with gratitude, I think of all these lovely women who have moved on, who are here now, and those yet to come. Thank you.
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