Sunday, July 21, 2013

7/22/13—Offering True Friendship

Today's Draw: Child in the position of "A True Friend Offers This To You" from the Magpie Oracle from Carrie Paris. How good have you been at sustaining friendships over the years? What do you think the secret to sustaining long-term relationships is? What is it inside of you that stands between you and more successful relationships?

I started to write a whole thing about me and relationships not working very well, then I realized it was one of those tapes we play over in our mind...things that might have once been true and that we continue to believe out of force of habit. So instead of saying I suck at relationships, I'll say I haven't mastered them yet. 

I have a friend who's done a pretty good job with relationships. She's married to her HS sweetheart and they're both in their 50s. So that's a long time and a lot of compromise. And her best friend from third grade is still someone she considers a best friend today. Certainly if either of them needed each other, they'd be there for each other. She's always been a really good friend to me, too. And while I've never been a BAD friend to her, I can see where I haven't always risen up to meet the hand she extends. And I feel bad about it. I think I don't know how to accept a hand like that for reasons we'll get to later. 

Her secret is that she's really good at letting "conditions" fall to the wayside. I hesitate to say "unconditional" because I do think there ARE conditions that would cause her to leave a friendship in the dust. But I've known her more than 20 years. Her small, strong circle of friends has been the same the entire time and the couple of us newbies that have known her for less than 25 years have been offered the same kind of friendship. 

It's important to note that she doesn't let go of transgressions only to let them fester. I mean, in a couple of situations I've seen her hold on to something. But the difference between her and me is that she still holds on to the relationship, despite being hurt. She doesn't see things as so "disposable". And, as her friend, you don't feel threatened by losing the friendship over some transgression or another. And she attracts people worthy of that in her life. Ultimately the difference between us is trust and sincerity. And that's what today's draw is about. 

In twenty-some years she has never given me reason not to trust her. The one time we had an issue about something, she chose the friendship over being right. That one simple gesture of saying "you're right, I shouldn't have done it" rather than arguing her point was big for me. It was a powerful lesson from her. She's someone who has told me many times, "I'm just not as deep as you, Tierney." And by saying that, she means that she just doesn't hold on to crap, inspect it, revisit it, resent it and embody it the way I do. She's built simpler than that. So when she trusts, she trusts. And when trust is broken, she forgives. AND, probably key to this whole thing, she trusts herself enough to navigate interpersonal BS in a way that won't leave her in tatters. She trusts herself enough to trust others to respect that trust. So instead of responding from a place of fear, she responds from a place of sincerity. 

Honestly, I haven't met a whole lot of people like her. There's a whole range of expressed emotion and neuroses she doesn't have. In some ways it's good. In other ways, there's an emotional distance that doesn't get breached with her. But emotion is more like an unfamiliar tool for her than something to armor against. Her simple way of viewing relationships is met with a simple way of viewing others. She's just not as petty as most of us are. And I'm not saying she's perfect...she has plenty of flaws. It's just that in this one thing, she's very successful. And I think she attracts people worthy of her trust because she trusts herself. 

So this trust and sincerity is what a true friend offers. And while I might think I extend that in the beginning, truth is that I don't trust myself to be as generous with it as she has been. I think that self trust is key. Because I'm not firmly footed in that, I tend to react more quickly to situations. And because I tend to analyze others, I also tend to be suspicious of them and their sincerity. The more you analyze people, the more untrustworthy we ALL appear. So ultimately, we have to trust ourselves and the system enough to know that, even if the friendship doesn't work out, there are no losers here. Only winners. And if we get taken advantage of, we'll brush it off and be fine. 

See, these tapes I was talking about at the beginning of the post tell me that people will try to use you. Or that there are ulterior motives. Or any of a number of other labels that doom most relationships before they ever get off the ground. This protection of the self...this lack of trust in the self's ability to effectively and efficiently manage disappointment...keeps a lot of opportunities at bay and actually attracts people who will test my assumptions. And I don't think I'm alone in that at all.

In the past couple of years I've discovered that disappointments don't hit so deeply within me anymore, however. I think it's because I'm looking for less from the other person. I'm not looking for them to fill any chinks in my cracked and knotted self perception. I'm more looking for kindred companions to walk forward with. And that's what I'm now finding. I still don't have it all figured out. But I do know that the more I trust myself, the less of an issue trust seems to be in my relationships. 

Why do you think The Child landed in the position of "What A True Friend Offers You" for you? Here are some keywords for Child: Trust, Beginnings, Baby Steps, Innocence, Sincerity, Fragility, New Starts, Student. 

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