Being Wise... taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37:
think Olive says it best... our choices affect the people in our lives.
And like Jen says... if we aren't honest about the ramifications of
making those choices, we can, and often do, lose really great friends
along the way. I've been through babies, marriages, divorces, and more
with my friends, and every one of those choices has affected our
relationships. Some of those friendships have ended ... like my
girlfriend who after having baby could only schedule time to talk twice
a week during a two-hour time slot in which I was at work. We went from
being the best of friends to no communication in over 3 years. I don't
even know where she lives today.
So what keeps friendships thriving when life choices create change? It
seems that no matter what age three things are true. One, we actually
think about how our choice affects our relationship. Two, we continue
to make time for our friendship, even though "time" may look totally
different. And three, as Linda's experience tells us, we are honest -
with ourselves and with our friends - even when, especially when it's
hard. We talk, we share and we connect from our hearts about what is
real, and then we remember that we decided to be friends for a reason -
to have companionship on this crazy, wild ride of being a woman. Olive, age 13, says:
Life choices are life changing. They are some of the toughest decisions that one will ever make. One very hard thing about making life choices is that the people in your life will be affected by them.
Being 13, the life choices of my parents have had the biggest affect on me. One big way was the life choice of my dad and step- mom to have a baby. Of course with a little sister I donʼt get to be the one getting the attention anymore ... but now I donʼt know how I could live without her. I always used to worry that some day I would become depressed and rebel because I wouldnʼt get enough attention but I had nothing to worry about.
From this experience I learned to be my own best friend. I still getplenty of attention but if I feel lonely I always know how to make myselflaugh. Another thing that helps is that I have one-on-one time with my parents. It makes it so that if I have something to talk about or if I just want to have fun we get some nice quality time to do it. Whether we go to a concert, get dinner, or go shopping itʼs all time to bond with each other.
Just always remember that when you get something you have to sometimes have to give something up, but it doesnʼt mean that life is over.
Jen, age 39, says:
I am guilty of making life choices that have jeopardized friendships. I believe we don't get many honest chances to redeem ourselves afterwards, but I recently had that opportunity with an old friend , "C", and gained new insight about myself as a result.
I was friends with C in my mid-twenties. We lived in the same neighborhood and often met out for drinks, dinner or dancing. Her carefree attitude and free-spirited nature often brought me out of my shell and we eventually became close confidants. At the time, I was involved in an emotionally volatile relationship with "M." Though we were on and off for many years, I thought M and I belonged together and was driven to make that happen at any cost. Though I suspected C didn't care much for M, she never questioned why I pursued a relationship with him. Instead, her friendship was a solid source of support during the off times. M, however, made it known many times that he did not like C, so when he and I decided to try our relationship again, I knew that I would have to make a difficult choice. I felt pressure to abandon my friendship with C in order to have a successful serious commitment with M. Afraid to let go of M, I pulled away from my friendship with C. But, as it turns out, after getting engaged to M, I finally realized we were not right for each other and we split up for good.
I've always regretted the decision to choose male companionship over a friendship. Rather than beat myself up for it, I recognize that I made that choice based on the information available to me at the time. I didn't understand this then but reflecting on it now, the piece missing in my decision making process was connection to my truth - who I was as a person, what I wanted and the kind of life I deserved. In the absence of that knowledge, my choice was misguided. I used my head, instead of following my heart - a theme I have seen repeated over and over as it relates to my life choices.
Time has since revealed my truth and has given me access to my heart as well. From that place I have been able to see things for what they truly are, instead of how I want them to be. I am fortunate to have recently reconnected with my friend, C, who is open to experiencing me through my truth and forgives me for my past choices.
Linda, age 60, says:
So many situations come to mind with this question. It brings up thoughts about friends who have relocated, made choices to adopt a different lifestyle, chosen to marry men that would make the friendship barely manageable ... the list goes on and on. And my reaction was always mixed. With some, I was thrilled because I knew I wanted the best for my friend and that their decision would not impact the quality of our friendship. With others, I intuitively knew that things were about to change because the glue that held us together was starting to wear thin.
And there was always this nagging voice in the back of my head that cried out, "But what about me??" I always felt left behind. And I definitely did not like the way I was feeling because I knew that my life was going to change as well, if for no other reason than the absence of my friend. Or the fact that someone or something was taking them away.
There was one occasion, however, that stands out in my mind as the most frightening test of a friend's choice. My dearest friend on the planet had chosen to have an affair with a man and was continually sharing their escapades with me. I was so incredibly conflicted because I adored her husband and her family. As her only confidante, I couldn't bear the thought that I was holding her secret yet acting as if everything was normal in her husband's presence. I felt like I was deceiving him as well. I knew I had to confront her and tell her that I could no longer be the personal counselor to her clandestine life choice and yet I inherently knew that I was putting our friendship at risk. The most amazing thing happened: my confrontation became a reality check for her and she left the other man behind.
As years went on, it was this one risk that became the turning point in our friendship. We became closer than ever before and we have sworn to take our secrets to the grave! My greatest fear was that she would walk away... choose him over me... and I would lose the greatest friendship I've ever known. This experience became a role model for me in learning how to trust in the value of true friends.