A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.
Have you ever found friendship perplexing?
When I was young my Nana wrote in my autograph book ‘True friends like diamonds are precious and rare, false friends like autumn leaves are found everywhere.’ As an eight-year-old I didn’t really get that. And anyway, wasn’t it better if you had a LOT of friends? Real friends, Nana tried to explain to me. Not everyone is a real friend.
Now I’m older, I finally understand what characterises a real friend.
I don’t have adequate words to express what’s in my heart about real friendship. It fills the empty spaces, and leaves you satisfied and content.
Real friendship? Yes, real. Real friends understand when you’re not up to disco dancing, bright lights and mad crowds. Real friends care. When you’re with real friends you don’t have to worry about how you look, if you get parsley stuck in your teeth, spill food on your clothes, or make an embarrassing social gaffe. Real friends don’t mind if you need to act like a Nana, eat early dinner and be home in bed before most people are even in their pyjamas. Real friendship understands that life is messy and sometimes hard, but that it is also better shared. Real friendship isn’t tied to physical proximity, and it can stretch to fit you both in – however you make that work for you. It’s laughter and tears and connection and a genuine desire to understand and support each other.
Real friends share their real lives with you, and you are safe to share your real life with them. Real friendship is based on you being yourself, and your friend being themselves too.
As someone with disability and chronic illness it can be very hard to make, and then maintain, friendships. That’s why my real friends are so precious to me. Some of them are old friends – from my childhood or university days. Some came later. Some are people I have never met in person, but whom I have forged connections with through my work or blog. What they all have in common is that we share, and we make space for one another and the messiness of our lives. Real friends are there for the ups and the downs. They can weather differences in opinion or philosophy, uncomfortable conversations, and make room for growth, change and the occasional disagreement. Real friends remind me of the best bits of myself – the bits that sometimes get overshadowed by illness, fatigue or despair. I hope I do the same for them.
I’d rather have a handful of real friends than an army of casual acquaintances, social media ‘followers’, party friends and ‘friends’ who only call you when they want something.
Do you feel like that too?
Here’s to real friendship, real community, and real heart!
Love, hugs and gratitude for sharing this journey with me, Nicole xx