16 March 2009

That which anchors

I've recently had the occasion to consider the notion of best friends and it occurred to me that while friends are for happy times and generalities, best friends are for all times, good and bad, and excruciatingly small details. But what happens to the minutiae when there is no repository outside of ourselves? Where does all of the joy, sorrow, rage, or terror go? What happens to the those cognitive assessments we continually make about ourselves, others, and the world around us?

I would think some of it merely dissipates. We feel the feelings and think the thoughts and that's enough to for them to be filed away. Not everything requires the collective rumination of two best friends to be digested. In fact, it's probably quite unhealthy to over-analyze every minute of every day.

Perhaps the details are apportioned among a circle of friends and even a few acquaintances. It would make sense that some information is better suited for distribution to some than it is to others. There can still be an emotional and cognitive release, even if it's not directed at a single person.

Or maybe, we learn to process our own daily input, or output for that matter, in an independent fashion. The fact is that we, adults, quite certainly possess the wherewithal to engage in our daily lives and deal with the ups and downs without having to consult with another person on a regular basis.



And then I thought some more on this topic...only to realize that I was completely lying to myself! It seems so critical to have our history held by one person--someone who will keep it safe from harm and use it to see us as whole beings, warts and all, and still manage to love us. Not having a best friend can leave us feeling utterly adrift because there is no anchor to our own center. Best friends tether us to what is familiar and comfortable, fostering the freedom and courage necessary for us to explore what is unfamiliar and uncomfortable because we know that we will always find our way back home with a quick tug on the rope.

9 comments:

Hyacynth Filippi Worth said...

I've been thinking about this lately, too -- before you even posted. I agree that best friends are important to a person's confidence and security in the world. My best friend since high school has been abroad for the past year, and the lack of communication has been so hard. Things I normally would tell her have become things I now confide in my husband. He's actually turned into my best friend, and I cannot complain because he's a pretty awesome one. Still, that dynamic is just different.

LH said...

Ah...but what if the topic of discussion is your husband himself? ;)

I think best friends are good for that sort of thing because they see the whole picture and don't assume that you're either a huge nag/complainer or that you're in a horrible marriage the way a lesser acquaintance might.

Nicole Luff said...

Oh my goodness, the beauty of your words are stinging in my eyes...thank you for posting these brilliant paragraphs! I want to copy and paste the entire piece for my best friend to read.....

LH said...

Aw...Nicole, thank you!

Hyacynth Filippi Worth said...

Yes, exactly, Lam. If the topic is your husband or your marriage, then little good it does when you're looking for a sounding board. That's why the dynamic is different. I certainly do miss having a best friend with whom I speak regularly.
Have you found, though, that many of your women friends having willing "traded" having another women best friend for a SO or spouse? I've found this more often than not.

LH said...

I think that apart from geographic division, as in your case, there is also the issue of the natural division created by divergences in life path. So many of us (willingly and happily, I might add) throw our ENTIRE selves into motherhood that unless our best friend is on the same road, intersections are few and far between. What I have found is not only greater dependence upon spouses but also new bonds forged via the common experience of parenthood. These are friendships made at the mommy-and-me class, the park playgroups, and--ahem--the babywearing/LLL meetings. However, I see that many of these newly formed friendships, while supportive and wonderful in their own way, don't always stand the test of time as children grow into their school years when mothers get to know the parents of school-aged peers, soccer teammates, boy scout troop members, etc.

Maybe the mommy-based relationship isn't as deep because they have yet to build history--that's sometimes a matter of time, which in uncontrollable, more than it is a matter of shared content, which is certainly controllable. It may also be because we now have neither the time nor energy to talk into the wee hours, as we did in college for instance. And maybe becoming mothers has made us less self-centered and our needs naturally recede into the background, thereby reducing that sense of urgency discuss, discuss, discuss.

I don't know--these are just terrible generalizations on my part...I'm just rambling here. I have a habit of that! ;)

Amber Riley said...

Lam, i think you have a way with words and i really enjoyed reading this. I can't tell you how many times my BFFs have been there for me, loved me unconditionally, cried with me and laughed with me. Totally different than my husband (although he is good at those things too) and i could not imagine going through motherhood without this type of support...

Ivan Chan Studio said...

:)

I think it's wonderful that you all have such supportive husbands and significant others; perhaps they've had the opportunity now to be even more supportive than before because the BFF is absent.

But to quote scripture (i.e., the movie Beaches), it's not the same.

This is at once such a lonely and miraculous experience, sometimes mitigated but never forgotten--we can create other wonderful, satisfying relationships and they can even be similar to others we've had; but no relationship, or best friend, is ever truly duplicated, and I find the uniqueness of who we are, and the uniqueness of each friendship we establish, bittersweet.

I.

LH said...

What does it say about me that when you write "bittersweet" I read buttersweet? Mmm...butter.