“Our Secret Keeper”

I never had any friends in school. If you have been reading the blog long enough, you know this to be true. For my elementary years, I went to school in a small suburb Virginia town. I was the ugly duckling in a sea of doves. Doves, meaning blond hair blue eyed beauties. I am not sure if it was the way I looked, or my extreme shyness, I just never had friends.

Middle School was not any better. Second verse, same as the first. Now, what was different in my middle school years is, I had a handful of church friends. They, unbeknownst to them, most likely saved me. Because I had them, I had their friendship, it was easy for me to blame my lack of friends at school, on the school. Surely it could not be me, I had friends at church! This was the logic of a thirteen-year-old.

Almost thirty years later, I can say I am still friends with my old handful of church friends. Of course, we all live in different states now, so our friendship is limited to Facebook, but still. They are there. Two of them have high profile careers in Virginia, one of them lives in Poland, One of them is now a grandmother, One of them is divorced and rebuilding her life, and the last is happily married with two grown kids of her own.

When one of them read a Facebook post on my personal Facebook page about an event at Sofia’s school that I was stressing over (hosting), she privately reached out wanting to donate twenty dollars to help out. When my friend in Poland read one of my blog post where I was having a pity party for one, she reached out, letting me know that even though I may not see myself as successful, she does. These are good people, who showed me at an early age what it means to be a true friend, and they have stuck with me all these years.

Nowadays. I long for the simpler times.

Sometimes I think people use the word “friend” too easily….or, perhaps we just have two different definitions of what a friend is.

The Gossiper ~ The Gossiper is easily disguised as a friend, and here is why. They will come to you with all the latest gossip. They come to you in a way where you think “Wow, they must really trust me to tell me this.” DO NOT BE FOOLED!! The Gossiper will only gossip about other people. They will never divulge to you their deep dark secrets. They will not divulge it to you because they are worried as soon as you leave the room, you will run your mouth…..just like they did.

The One-Upper ~ The One-Upper is probably the most evident out of my list. It will only take you about three conversations to figure out what they are really about. (One-Upping)

Me~ Ugh, Sofia has a fever.
One-Upper~ I can relate, I had to take little Riley to the emergency room last night, she had a 105. temp.

Me~ Well, it’s not much, but I am down three pounds!
One Upper~ Me too! Actually, I am down 8 pounds, but a loss is a loss!!

They will even “One Up” you on things that any normal person would want to stay away from.

Me~ I burnt dinner…..again.
One Upper~ That’s so funny, the fire department came out last night to my house, small kitchen fire from boiling water.

NEXT!!

The Fair Weather Friend. Now, Christin and I have two different views on this one. The Fair Weather Friend bothers her a lot more than it does me. Luckily for this one, Christin and I are able to use the same example. Good ole Alphonso. It really bothers Christin when Alphonso disappears for months, years at a time. He deactivates his social media, he gets a new phone number, he totally “ghosted” us. It will be a year later, Alphonso will call me and we pick up where we left off. If he dares to call Christin, he is lucky if she answers the phone…..and she won’t.

Now my final one, this is probably the hardest for me to accept. Typically, at least in my case, everyone else sees it before I do. The “friend” that takes advantage of you. I like to think I am pretty easy, and loyal as far as friendship goes. If I like you, and value the friendship, I will do anything I can for you. There is a fine line though, and when I personally get to the point where I feel I am being taken advantage of, then I will check out….and when I check out, there is no coming back. My “blocked list” on Facebook has more people than my actual friend list does.

Just like thirty-some years ago when I only had a handful of friends, I find that pattern is still the same today. I have a handful of friends that I trust. Christin, being number one on the list.

Remember, it is quality over quantity.

~Jennifer

 

It’s the year that Warren G’s “Regulate” was number one on the billboards. That year marked so many changes in my life. I started high school, held hands with a boy for the 1st time ever (It was only for 1 minute, but it still counts) and most importantly, I met my best friend.

 It was 1994.

 We’ve come so far from that 1st day of freshman year in Mr. Lowe’s English class. We’ve stuck with each other through it all. Break-ups, kids, deaths, struggles, ups, downs, you name it, we’ve been through it. We even went without speaking for a few years because of a really bad decision on my behalf. Thankfully, she forgave me because if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have ever forgiven myself. 23 years later, when we get together, it’s like we are teenagers all over again. Sure, we are 37-year-old women with kids but when you put us in a car together, we are 16 again, listening to gangster rap, laughing like we don’t have a care in the world. She’s one of my favorite people and I would do anything for her. A true ride or die friend.

In a lifetime, you are lucky to have one good friend to stick with you no matter how many bad choices you make.

 Fortunately for me, I found my 2nd lifelong friend in 2001.

 However, if you would have told me back then that we would still be friends after 16 years, I would have told you only if pigs fly.

Our connection wasn’t as instant as the one before. We had a fight a few weeks after we met, fought over a stupid guy, and have taken so many wrong turns that it’s a miracle we are still here. We’ve come so far individually and together from that first morning I found her sleeping on the couch in my living room, thanks to Alphonso (my roommate) and his affinity for bringing strangers home. Alphonso did one good thing for me; he introduced me to my good friend, writing partner, therapist and co-conspirator, without her, my life would be boring.

I keep my circle small, a handful of friends is all I really need, because I have been used more than once by people that I thought were my “friends”.

I’m sure we have all had had at least one experience with this, so here are some signs to look for.

  Red flags:

1.       They ask for favors ALL the time.

2.       You are only beneficial to them IF you have something they want like a ride or money.

3.       They gossip about everyone. Rest assured if they gossip about someone to you, they will talk

about you.

4.       Convenient friends. These are the ones that are only friends with you because it’s convenient…for them.

 If I had a dollar for every “fair-weathered” friend I had over the last 20 years, I would be able to quit school, move to some tropical island and live care-free.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are being taken advantage of, don’t walk, but run because it doesn’t get better. The more you give, the more they want. Give an inch, next thing you know, they want a mile. People like that don’t have good intentions and when they are done with you, they just move on to their next victim.

 The bottom line is we all need friends. People we can call when we’ve had a bad day or when we had the best day of our lives.

People we can share our most personal thoughts with.  Our Secret Keepers.

 “I would like to think I’m a good secret-keeper,

 when it comes to friends, I’m quite loyal like that”

Christin.

friendship

 

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