All in Friendship

To Have a Friend, You Must Be a Friend, Part 1

I’ve been thinking about friendship lately. I have a friend who, during an earlier phase of our friendship, would close their emails with “Your tenuous friend.” This simultaneously amused, reassured, and unsettled me.

That I was amused by their closing has to do with similarities in our sense of humor: we both love irony, paradox, and can even see humor in the tenuousness of life itself.

That they signed as “friend” was reassuring because I have harbored doubts about my worthiness as a friend since childhood. As children, we all have doubts about friendship because in that stage of life friendship is naturally tenuous—your friend today may ignore you tomorrow or even become your enemy. In that stage, we are just beginners but as we grow older most of us learn that we deserve to have good friends upon whom we can rely. This understanding is a natural by-product of healthy self-esteem: I am worthy of good friends, and I am a good friend. That they signed as friend told me that I am moving into a more adult sphere where I am willing to trust my friends and to be trustworthy to them.

That I was unsettled by having a “tenuous” friend also had to do with my feelings of unworthiness from childhood. Why can’t they just sign “Your friend,” instead of reminding me of my insecurities? Well, let me tell you something: if they had signed it “Your friend,” that would have unsettled me, too.

Vulnerability and Honoring “Thank You”

I have a friend who thanks me from time to time for something I’ve done for her. Her thank-yous seem sincere and heartfelt, maybe even earnest. I find it challenging to take them in, to really believe them. This is undoubtedly a vestige of learning as a child that I was worthless and always would be. This shaming was at the heart of my mother’s parenting approach. I imagine she learned it from her mother.

From A to Z: Being Alpha, Becoming Zen

This morning in Men’s Yoga, I found myself resisting the teacher’s suggestions to quiet the mind by becoming more aware of the sensations in my body. The part of the brain responsible for these sensations is called the sensorimotor brain, and it is evolutionarily much older than our cognitive, “talking brain.” My sensorimotor brain keeps me breathing, enables me to walk without falling, lets me know when something is hot or cold, causes pain when some part of my body is broken or ailing, and tells me the beautiful woman next to me might just be interested in a little bit of romancing. 

Intimacy

My friend Frank (not his real name) answers his phone. He has this notoriously unreliable Bluetooth earpiece that he loves to use. Today it’s having a bad day. He sounds like a Martian. I tell him I’ll call back. When he answers the second time he’s no longer a Martian. I say, “Ah! It’s my old friend Frank – the one I know and love!” This joke brings him to tears because he’s not my old friend Frank, he’s the new Frank. The one who is fighting a disease that will shorten his life dramatically.
 

Compromise Is Not The Answer

Compromise is a way of reaching agreement in which each person gives up something that was wanted to end an argument or dispute. This may sound reasonable, but it rarely happens in intimate relationships. Say one of you wants to vacation at the beach and the other wants the mountains. A compromise might be to go to the beach this year and the mountains next year. But what if you really don’t like the beach? Do you go to the beach and sulk? Or, do you go and put on a happy face while silently letting your resentment grow?