Friday, December 28, 2018

Transactional Friends

I've been thinking, lately, about the nature of friendships and how they evolve. I'll begin by acknowledging that friendship relationships do change and evolve over time - I'd bet that very few of us have the same closest friends at the end of our lives than we did at the beginning. Even when moving the starting line up to a more stable age - say, 25 years old - the closest friends we had then are not the same as they are at 50 or 75 or older. That's just the way life seems to go, at least in this day and age. If we have one or two friends that close over that many years, it is rare indeed. It is why, I believe, couples who are married that long are in fact each other's closest (or best) friend.

Granting all that, there are other friendships that seem to come and go much faster. While the time frame for closeness to develop is still measured not in weeks or months, but years, they are still, relative to a lifetime of years, a "flash in the pan." The develop, get "real," and fade away in a matter of five, maybe 10 years. I'm not talking about the kinds of friends who become distant due to other circumstances (geography, often), but remain close no matter what. I have a few old friends with whom I do not speak with regularly or see often, but are still just as close. I'm talking about those that seem to just dissolve. I've experienced some of that dissolution of late and I am somewhat confused as to why.

We all grow and change throughout our lives, but if we are authentic, we are still essentially the same person we have always been. There are, of course, some huge exceptions to that generality, and the process of recovery from addiction/alcoholism and many other destructive "isms," disorders, diseases and the like can result in tremendous change in who we are. That is my story and it is the story so many I know, many of whom are friends... or were.

                  This is where it gets a little sticky. Have I changed? Or have they? Or is it something else. I believe that since five years clean (probably longer), I am essentially the same person. In fact, I'd say that "deep down" I always have been, but the drugs presented a different person when judged by my actions. Fair enough, but that cloak has been gone a long time now. It has been around 10 years now that what you see is what you get. It is easily long enough to say reliability and consistency is among those things that defines who I am.

                  I'd also recognize that everyone comes with a different history and everyone's path is different. I have heard words to the effect among some people that they have "outgrown" others, that they are on a different (higher) spiritual plane. Perhaps that is true. Maybe I got stuck in the spiritual gutter, spinning my spiritual wheels and watching the nonjudgemental spiritual high-roaders grade my spirituality (or lack thereof) through inclusion and exclusion. Pretty fucking spiritual, huh?

                  Anyway, file this rant under the "if the shoe fits, lace that bitch up and wear it" category. If it does not, it's not about you. No judgements here (a lie, of course, but at least I'm aware of and honest about it). I'm just living my life. I don't have time for "transactional" friends.

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