Freedom in Friendship

love

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet number 116 has long been a favorite of mine. But more recently I came across the above quote by Adam Clarke. At first I found it difficult to hold both of these statements to be true. On first look they seem to be mutually exclusive, such opposing ideas that I feel my brain being tied into a knot. For my purposes I don’t speak of romantic love but of friendship (but I love my friends, so forgive me my broad interpretation). Here is my quandary: when does faithfulness in a friendship cross the line into lack of self-respect, by staying when things are terribly dysfunctional? On deeper inspection, I find these quotes to be quite complimentary.

Shakespeare is indeed right when he says “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” Love is faithful and kind and patient and covers a multitude of sins.

Clarke is also right that “love requires love as its recompense,” for true friendship must be reciprocal in nature. Genuine friendship is not an exchange of goods, services, and presents; a “this for that” mentality does not make for a lasting friendship. The only thing required is the exchange of goodwill, kindness and truth spoken in love. A friendship without mutual respect and the permission to allow each other to grow and change creates shackles rather than freedom.

Maybe I should be reading these quotes the other way around. There can only be loyalty, love, and faithfulness in a friendship (love which does not alter) when friendship has been given freely (love begetting love) first. Love does not flee at the first sign of trouble; adversely, love does not require oneself to be bullied, manipulated and disrespected for the sake of loyalty.

As a Christian these quotes will only get me so far. Scripture is really my only compass to navigate the choppy waters of evaluating my relationships. I have found the following verses particularly helpful:

“friendships” to avoid

Proverbs 18:24
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 16:28
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 22:24–25
Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

friendships to cherish and cultivate

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

Proverbs 18:24
A man [or woman] who has friends must show himself [or herself] friendly. And there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother [or sister].

Ecclesiastes 4:-12
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

A Farce

I think deep down you know you’re small,
Underneath it all.
The tailored suits, and shiny shoes,
Crisp white pants, and stiff starched shirts,
Manners so well manicured
Hiding all your rage,
That peeks and cracks through gritted teeth
And looks to others like a grin;
Buying friends and loyalty
To cover up your sins.
You told me once, you had more brains
Than all of us combined.
All that did was prove to me,
You don’t believe that lie.
I think deep down you know you’re small,
Underneath it all.

Embers

God who is in heaven.
Bathe my smokey heart.
Anger once was justified, but it has played its part.
What first was cleansing fire
Has left me brittle bones.
The flames have burned straight through me, searing all my soul.
Rain your mercy down now.
Subdue the smoldering rage.
Snuff out these embers raising smoke. Unlock this seething cage.

fire

Backing Up Over My Dignity

This is the story of how I backed up over my dignity and lost face. This is one of my more embarrassing moments, of which I have scores. I seriously doubt the person(s) involved will ever read this, but they were there and already know what happened so all embarrassment has rolled off by this point.

A few years ago I had a hopelessly unrequited and hopelessly ill-informed (but that’s another whole blog all by itself) crush on a man. I had been trying for weeks to get his attention. We were friends but it was a tense and terse relationship from the start, fraught with misunderstanding, fights, and me generally making an ass of myself. I had heard around the water cooler that he had started seeing someone.  It was pretty clear they were together but he had told me emphatically that they were not dating. Turns out that wasn’t true, but again that’s a story for another day; or a story put to rest with a shovel, a shotgun and a bottle of Jameson’s.

On this particular night I was going to a friend’s house for a get-together. Several mutual friends had RSVP’d saying they would be there. As my luck would prove, it was to be an excruciatingly awkward evening with only the host, hostess, the Man, and the girlfriend-who-didn’t-exist. The smart part of my brain said ‘Run away! Run away! This can only get worse.’ But nooooo, as I am a glutton for anything that is bumbling, stumbling, lumbering and fumbling, I decided to nut up and power through. Let’s be clear that I have a love affair with awkward situations, as long as I am not the cause or victim. Wait…I guess that means I love social spasticism (yup, new word) only at the expense of others which kind of makes me a jerk. Sorry, digression over. We all sat around the dining room table as the Man loudly praised the non-girlfriend for how awesome she was, “I mean seriously guys! Isn’t she the awesomest EVER?! RAWR!”

Blechh. I went to the backyard to cry quietly over my cigarettes, and not-so-gently scold myself, “Pull it together woman!”

When I came back in we had moved the “party” to the living-room where I would spend the next two hours trying not to see the hand-holding three feet away from me on the couch. Asking the host “Are you sure they’re not together? They look pretty together,” I was told “No, no, no. Definitely not together. He said no, so it’s no.” In all honesty, what they were or weren’t was none of my business but 1) I HATE being lied to, even over something stupid and 2) crushing hard on someone can drive any sanity out of the brain right through the ears.

After the movie was over the Man and not-girlfriend left pretty quickly. I stayed to chat hoping that I had left ample time to avoid needing to interact with them in the drive-way. As I walked out, I saw the Man and the girlfriend-who-never-was kissing in front of my car. Again, I could have saved face and gone back inside but nooooooo. I just cleared my throat and began walking to my Scion. The Man pushed not-girlfriend off of him, which actually makes me laugh now, cause damn…that must have been hard to explain later. As in any emergency (real or perceived – emphasis on perceived), fight or flight kicked in. Fight was insane, duh, so I had no choice but to flee. I’m telling you, it seemed perfectly rational at the time. In my haste, I threw the car into reverse. I heard a crunch. Not a really loud crunch, more like a gentle crunch. I looked in the rear-view and found I had backed over the host’s neighbor’s 30-gallon plastic planter. And of course it was filled with about 20 gallons of dirt and 15 lbs of plant.

“Well I can’t get out now dammit! I have to just keep going!” as I threw the car back into drive to complete the k-turn.

“SCRAAAAAAAPE!” halfway down the street.

“I know! I’ll just go faster in order to lose the mansion-sized planter which is now embedded under my car!”

SCCCCCCRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPE!”

“Sonofagun!!!!!”

Chirp-chirp from my cell phone alerted me to a new text, “Um…I think you may have something under your car?” From who else but the Man himself, who happened to be driving behind me.

I’d like to think I responded with grace and aplomb, but that would be so uncharacteristic. It was probably more likely me shouting at the rear-view “Oh you think? You think?! No crap Sherlock!!!!”

I went to bed that night feeling lied-to and stupid, and woke with that always hopeful feeling of that-can’t-have-really-happened. I received a phone call from the host later that morning saying “Our neighbors found their planter busted up at the end of the road and tire marks on the front lawn. Do you know what happened?”

“Um…yeah. I happened.”

embarrassed-bunny-is-embarrassed-168839-456-342_large

(this makes me feel better)

Thank You

I think you might have taught me something after all…

That first time was an open book.
But you cheated on the test.
Then when you came back,
I said I wasn’t ready yet.
You told me that was cool.
But again you tried so hard
To play me for the fool.

I said I didn’t trust you,
Been down that road before.
You said that it was only friend-
ship you were looking for.

You dropped out again as quick
As you had once come back.
Took some time to realize
I’d been looking at your back.
Reading through old emails,
I can see you make your play.
I’m glad I was oblivious
To all your schemes that day.

I can see you have a wife.
Explains now why you’re gone.
And now I know beyond all doubt
She had been there all along.
So thank you. Really…thank you
For being such a fool
And proving I was in the right
To put no trust in you.

Raging

Self control is a tedious thing,
When all I want is to yell and scream,
And ball up my fists until I shake,
Throw a tantrum right in your face.
For many years we’ve danced this dance
You’re always asking for one more chance.
You accuse me of lacking mercy or grace.
You like to get all up in my face
And twist what you do to be my crime.
I am done with it this time.
My grasp on constraint is weak at best.
Who is the greater fool you ask?
I finally see after all this time.
The foolishness is mine.
So let me be. I’ll forgive in time.
But I am not your’s and you are not mine.

Grown

Act your age. You’re not a sage.
Just a grown man’s body
With a teenaged brain.
Your big boy pants – put them on,
The time to be a man has come.
You’d like to think you’re Peter Pan
But he was e’en more a man
Than you my friend.  You’re just a boy.
Girls to you are merely toys.
But they will fast outgrow your games,
See you with vision very plain.
And you will be left all alone
Once women they become.

Fracture

Bitter feelings sneaking in,
Creeping in around my door,
Like the stubborn, frigid draft
That settles now upon my floor.

Arrogance, pride, control is your game.
Self satisfied smugness bears the same name
As you my “dear” friend, for so many years.
I think I am finally done with the tears

That you’ve caused me to shed
From your manipulation,
From all your snide digs,
And your cold calculations.

You are a fake of the cleverest kind,
Using the Law to beat up the mind.
You want the Gospel, when it suits your needs.
You do hurtful things, cause others to bleed.

Love one another is what he commands.
How do I love you with wide open hands
When I don’t even like you right now?
Just hearing your name furrows my brow.

If I walk away, does that make me a punk?
Just being away has lifted my funk.
Does loving you mean being your friend?
Only time might reveal if this fracture can mend.

du·plic·i·ty

[doo-plis-i-tee, dyoo-]

noun, plural du·plic·i·ties for 2, 3.
1.deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing. Synonyms: deceit, deception, dissimulation, fraud, guile, hypocrisy, trickery. Antonyms: candidness, directness, honesty, straightforwardness.
2.an act or instance of such deceitfulness.
3.Law . the act or fact of including two or more offenses in one count, or charge, as part of an indictment, thus violating the requirement that each count contain only a single offense.
4.the state or quality of having two elements or parts; being twofold or double.
Don’t try to be everything to everyone.  You will only wear yourself out and wind up getting burned by the lies you tell, even with the best of intentions.  The smallest lie casts doubt on anything you do and causes me to distrust anything you might say in the future.  A simple lie in a garden is what caused our world to fall.  Don’t be a part of that destruction.