“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the term ‘best friends’ and what it entails. When I googled ‘Best Friend + definition’ the first thing that came up was a definition that said, “The one friend who is closest to you.” Urban dictionary said, “Best Friends are very special people in your life. They are the first people you think about when you make plans. They are the first people you go to when you need someone to talk to.” And even still, one more definition came up with the meaning, “The definition of a best friend is a person who you value above other friends in your life, someone you have fun with, someone you trust and someone in whom you confide.”
And I’ve sat back… thought long and hard about it, and decided; I don’t have a best friend. I don’t have anyone that considers me their best friend, either, if we want to be perfectly honest. For a very long time, I was upset and angry about it. I pleaded with God to bring me a best friend to call my very own! I would wonder why people weren’t best friend material! Was it something about them? No, not them… Then I would ask God what was wrong with me that made people not want to be my best friend. Perhaps there is still something to go on there, and I’m sure we could analyze that one for hours (and I think that is a post for another time). But, what I’ve come to realize, is that I’m a damn good friend, and I don’t have to be someone’s bestie to still be an awesome friend, or to have them be a meaningful part of my life. BFF’s are cool, but I’m no less of a person if I don’t have one. At least, I think so.
Back in 1980-something, I remember going to some quirky little jewelry store and picking a “Best Friends” necklace to wear with the person I was best friends with at the time. What’s most interesting to me is I don’t think I ever gave the other half of the necklace away. It stayed in my twirling ballerina jewelry box, collecting dust, eventually being thrown out, or perhaps getting lost. I can’t really remember. Plus, I moved a lot as a child. Before we moved to Illinois the year I was turning 11, we moved almost every year. I don’t regret the decisions of my parents to move that often. I don’t blame them. It was hard for my Mom to be a single mother, raising a baby, and then when she was re-married to my step-Dad, figuring out their life together. That life didn’t always mean that I went to the same school one, two or three years in a row, and that was okay. I made friends. I usually attached myself to one person, but by the time we moved to Illinois, I realized it was too hard to keep a best friend, and into adulthood, some of the friends I thought were my besties, ended up just being friends in the end. It never meant that they were any less of a good friend. It just means, we went down different paths.
I know a lot of people who have BFF’s. They’ve known these people for years, sometimes their whole lives. And I sometimes I feel like it would be nice to have ONE person that you ALWAYS turn to when you are going through something tough. Many times, that’s when I stuff (it isn’t always the right thing to do, but it’s what I do). When I know I need to reach out to someone or get something off my chest, I might talk to a few people. But none of them I’d consider my BFF. I never call one particular person in the middle of the night. Whenever I’ve been at my lowest, I’ve tried reaching out to people, and usually, I get the voicemail, and honestly that’s probably for the best. If I can’t talk myself down from the ledge, would someone else be able to? I’m not about to drag someone else down into my spiral of self-loathing. So, I sleep it off, and 9 times out of 10, I feel 100% better in the morning, and I have a clearer conscience, and I regret that I even tried to reach out to anyone at all. So, I’ve learned that if something is really laying heavy on my heart and I’ve been dealing with it for a few days, I reach out to the key people who I know have good advice, but otherwise, I need to take a breath and step back, sleep it off, and know that God brings new mercies every morning.
I have always been a little envious of the people who considered their Mom a best friend. I was angry for a very long time about it, too. I was angry that my Mom had a best friend, and I didn’t. I was angry because I thought she didn’t care enough about me to consider me one of her best friends. I wanted desperately to have her be my confidant. I wanted her to be close enough to me to WANT to be my friend. But, over the years, I have realized something. No matter how hard you want something, it doesn’t mean that it is going to happen. No matter how hard I wanted my Mom to be the first person I called, the first person I thought of, the first person I ran to when times were tough, that wasn’t the truth. I did go to my parents when I was in over my head, most of the time. But, mostly, I just figured it out myself. I am okay with that now. In essence, I’ve grown up. I’ve learned to rely on myself better. I’ve learned that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined. If my Mom was my friend and helped me with everything, then I would use that as a crutch in my life, instead of learning how to stand and survive on my own two feet.
My heart breaks a little every time someone who’s married says, “My husband/wife is my best friend! I can’t imagine life without them!” Someone even once said that they hoped God would allow him and his spouse to co-habitate in heaven, because she was his perfect match, and he can’t even imagine eternity without her. That is a beautiful thought, and at one time, I wished that too, with my whole heart. Until I realized it wasn’t mutual. My husband never would say something like that to my face, but whenever I would wish that thought out loud, his eyes would gloss over a bit, and I realized it wasn’t his dream. And while I can’t imagine life without my husband and I even thought for a long time that he was my best friend, I realize now, it just isn’t the reality in my own life. Guess what? He doesn’t fill the best friend role. And guess what else? I don’t fill that role for him, either. And right now, that’s truthfully okay. He’s always had other “besties”. He’s had one friend he’s known since he was 5, and they are still as close as brothers. Other friends have come and gone, but there have been several guys that he would consider best friends. The guys he calls on when he needs a helping hand, a beer, or just someone to vent with. He doesn’t vent to me. I’m not his sounding board. I’m not the first person he turns to when he needs to get something off his chest. Recently, he’s been under a lot of stress between work and school, and he doesn’t really talk to me about much other than what is going on that day/week with each other’s schedules or what’s happening with the kids. At one time, I thought there was something wrong with us and our relationship. He’s had more guy weekends away with his best guy friends than he has ever had with me (we haven’t even been away together, just the two of us). And I spent so much of my life feeling hurt and angry about it. I mean, I spend years of my life thinking I should be more meaningful in his life. I’ve come to finally realize recently though, that just because he chooses other “best friends” over me to talk and relate to, and because he wants to spend more time with them when he gets the chance, over date nights, or weekends away with me, that it doesn’t mean we aren’t GOOD friends. And it certainly doesn’t mean he doesn’t cherish me as his spouse. That is a tough realization, I know. It hurts a little even writing the words down. But I know it as truth. And I am accepting the reality of my life. We spend every day together. Sometimes he might just need a weekend away from me with his best friends for him to get back on track with life. He just needs to ease his stress, and blow off some steam. Spending a weekend at the Lakehouse with his best friends is cheap, relaxing and a way to unwind. Spending a weekend away with me, just adds stress for him. It isn’t relaxing, and it just hurts our marriage more than not because we think of all the other things we should be doing instead. It’s just not high on the importance scale. As much as I would love to imagine getting away as being this blissful time of reconnecting and celebrating one another… What is the reality of it? The reality is, I have to scour the earth for a babysitter who can watch all 4 kids overnight, possibly longer. We have to budget so carefully that it might even hurt us financially to go anywhere, so going anywhere that requires an overnight hotel is out of the question. A bed and breakfast, HA! All-inclusive vacation to the beach, don’t even get me started about how stressful that would end up being! Even date nights are getting more and more expensive. What used to be a $50 night to reconnect, now is upwards of $100 or more. That money has a place in our lives. That money either goes towards God, or towards keeping a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. “Take a staycation, Shara! Working on your relationship is so important in marriage! Have someone watch the kids, and just stay together at home.” Home… home is where the bills and projects are. Home is stressful. Home is piles of laundry and a whirlwind of toys. Chores. If I’m at home, then I’m planning on working on what needs to get done, when I actually have the time to do it. And yes, it’s important to ‘work on our relationship’. But what does that even mean? It’s different for everyone. I understand the concept to be true, but it is not always how real life works. My parents took amazing vacations together and celebrated little anniversaries as well as big ones, and after 26 years, they are still getting divorced. What does that tell me? No matter what you do, life doesn’t ever turn out the way you expect it to. So, right now, I can’t indulge in the fantasy of spending exclusive time with my spouse, because in the end, he’ll just be bitter with me about spending unnecessary money and that will hurt us more than help, and it will just hurt my heart more than heal it. He is my husband, and I cherish him and all he does for us.
So, is my marriage perfect? No. Should my hubby and I spend more time together? Probably. That isn’t a reality at the moment though. Is being best friends the answer? Probably not. Is it okay that I don’t have a best friend at all? Yes. It’s totally acceptable.
And here’s why.
I said this before, and I’ll say it again. I’m a damn good friend. I will make you coffee, and sit down with you and chat for hours on end! I laugh at your funny stories, and I am there when you need to talk in the middle of the night, I’m an awesome shoulder to cry on. I don’t do that with one particular person, I do it with whomever needs me most. I will drop everything to be there for someone in need. It’s just who I am.
The first person I think about when I wake up? Probably my kids. This doesn’t mean you aren’t important in my life! In all actuality, you are pretty important! I just have a laundry list of things to get done! And that’s okay! I think about and pray about whoever God places on my heart that day, and most likely, I’ll reach out to you and see how it’s going.
Who do I have fun with? All my friends! If that means sitting on the couch watching a movie with the hubby, or if it means going out with the girls and singing some off-key karaoke, I’m going to have fun with you, because if I didn’t enjoy your company, I wouldn’t be friends with you in the first place.
So, breaking it down today. I might not have a best friend, but I have a lot of awesome friends that I love and I would lay my life down for. And not having a BFF, that’s okay. Because I am me, and it’s taken a long time for me to get to who I am, and where I am today. I will love you exactly where you are and who you are. And if you’ve already got a BFF, that’s awesome! I’m glad to be your friend! Just because I’m not my hubby’s best friend, doesn’t mean we aren’t friends at all, or that we love each other any less. Just because I don’t have a best friend, doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me or you, or anyone, It just means that’s the way life is, and that is perfectly okay.