Did you ever sing a little song when you were young that went like this:
“Make new friends, but keep the old,
“One is silver and the other gold.”
A few months ago I started humming this jingle, which led to a look at the lyrics.
“Make new friends.” Hmmm. That sounds a little like strong encouragement, just shy of a command.
During the last few months I’ve reassessed my relationships. Being sick provides time to ponder many things. I think I took the “strong, independent military wife” thing to extreme. I became a bit of an island.
Oh sure, I have friends all over the country. But I have two best friends — one in Washington, D.C., and one in Dallas — and I’m in California. My other friends, I realized, I’ve kept at the “outer marker,” to use an aeronautical term. They were never allowed to get closer.
Ladies, I don’t know maybe I was just tired of saying goodbye. Maybe I was lazy, and it certainly takes work to develop fulfilling friendships. Maybe I got used to being “alone.” I’ll let a shrink figure that part out.
The bottom line is: I didn’t make new close friends.
There are certainly different levels of friendship. You know there are those friendships that are “surface,” like the mother you sit with at the soccer games but that is about all you know about her. Then there are those you share a bit more of yourself and learn more about. Maybe it is a co-worker you see daily or a fellow fund-raising committee member.
But then there are those you will let into your inner circle. I know you know what I mean. These are the ones, the select few that get to see the real condition of your linen closet and the ring around your toilet bowl. They see you at your worst and you trust them to love you anyway. And you love themwarts and all!
I recently spoke to a group of military wives. We did a round table discussion on the subject of friendship. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
“I don’t have time to find that ‘girlfriend’ at every new duty station.”
“The challenge is moving. It’s hard to say goodbye, and frankly, I don’t want this cycle of looking for a local girlfriend only to say goodbye.”
Or, “With Facebook I can keep in contact with my friends so I don’t feel the need for local friendship as much.”
But friendship is a give and take. We might not think we need that local “sista” (although we do) but we are needed by others! There are new moms, new military spouses, first deployment sisters who need you. And in reaching out to them, you will find how much you need them.
In the next edition, I’m going to tell you about persistent Debra, the woman who wouldn’t let me keep her at the outer marker — and all that I learned.
In the meantime, make new friends. They are silver. Keep the old, they are gold — and at today’s precious metals prices, that is great wealth!
— Connect with Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.