Friendship requires sacrifice.

Friendship requires sacrifice.

There, I said it.

I have met and talked to a lot of lonely people lately, and let me tell you it breaks my heart because I remember those days like I remember the smell of burnt popcorn. That memory is never going away, and when I think about it the ache it throbs like it was yesterday.

In Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness, she says that being lonely even shortens your life expectancy. I don’t say that to create fear, but to let you know that that longing is LEGIT. I think we’ve treated friendship like a luxury for far too long; friendship isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Listen, here’s what I want to say even though it might feel like salt on an already wounded heart (I promise you I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t think it was really really important):

Good, deep, lasting, sister-like friendships require sacrifice. To have good friends you have to be a good friend. If you’re only willing to invest a once-a-year meet-up, you will get back a once-a-year depth of friendship. If you never text back and you cancel every get-together…you will not get back deep friendship.

Listen, I know you’re run ragged and you have almost nothing left to give. I know you’re exhausted and fed up and you can barely make it through the day. I KNOW. Believe me, I know. The problem with finding friends in adulthood is that we are all exhausted and on our last pair of yoga pants. None of us have a ton of extra. Finding a tribe in this stage is like a bunch of starving people on a deserted island trying to help each other find food. It’s pretty rough. No shame or judgement here but the thing is, if you want a tribe you have to find a way to make space for those relationships.

It means showing up.

A couple years ago my son broke his arm on the trampoline. Our friends happened to be there at the time. My husband jumped in the truck with my boy and rushed him to the ER, and without a word our friends loaded me and the other kids up and followed them in. While I ran shaking into the emergency room, they went and bought pizza and comforted our other three sobbing kids.

These friends have shown up again and again, and we’ve shown up for them. Nothing can substitute the history of the times we stood alongside each other through hardship. Nothing.

It means making sacrifices.

I’m a big advocate of boundaries; it’s super important to take care of your needs. I also think it’s important to make sacrifices for the friends that you choose (key word, the ones you choose). Maybe that means meeting up with them when you don’t feel like it. Maybe it’s doing something you don’t want to do to help them out. Deep friendships require serving, loving, and giving.

It means not being a fair-weather friend. 

It means not disappearing when the going gets tough. A few summers ago I had an absolute meltdown. I was so anxious I couldn’t leave my house without multiple panic attacks. One of my friends showed up every single day. “What are you scared of today?” she would ask. I’d tell her and she would say, “It’s just the anxiety; you aren’t dying I promise.” And I would weep.

I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it now.

I try to be a “fun” person to be around and I feel insecure when I’m struggling. This friend showed up when I wasn’t fun; in fact, I was down right depressing to be around. And now this friend isn’t just my friend…she is my sister.

It means pursuing. 

It means sending texts to check in on them about that thing they were worried about. It means grabbing a gift when it makes you think of them. It means asking them to meet up for coffee or even better a kidless, glass of wine.

It means texting back when you’re almost asleep and you get a text, “hey you up?”

It means dropping everything and grabbing two large Diet Cokes to bring to their house when they’re feeling down.

It means choosing. 

Listen, you cannot give the same level of friendship to everyone. You have to choose the people you are going to pursue and to whom you give your heart to. I’ve come across the idea (often) that it’s wrong to leave anyone out, but I kinda think that’s silly. That’s like saying that it’s selfish to marry one husband because, what about all the single dudes. We should be kind towards everyone (obviously), but we cannot give our heart to everyone. It’s definitely okay to choose the people you invest in; in fact you have to if you want depth of friendship.

*Side note, just because someone has a lot of needs DOES NOT make them your person. Sometimes the people that shout the loudest force their way into the center of our universe. Make sure you’re choosing your people on purpose and that they’re the kind of people who will give friendship back.

***

You my friend are worth it. You truly are. Even more than the spa day and the ten minutes alone in the bathroom…you need this. We all need this. We just weren’t meant to travel this life alone and in my opinion, there’s no time we need each other more than in the season of motherhood.

***

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12 thoughts on “Friendship requires sacrifice.

  1. Shardai

    What if the friend you like and get along with has a jerky kid that just doesn’t mesh with your kid? I also have another friend I’ve tried to start a friendship but she’s super flaky like 2 hours late for every plan..what then. I’m super lonely 🙁 I love my kids but need adulting for my sanity.

  2. wonderoak

    Yeah I hear you! I’d try and invest in outings without kids then and maybe the kids will grow out of their differences! It kinda depends I’ve been in that situation before and it was super hard at the same time I know my friends have been super patient with my wild child 😳. You just gotta do what works for you. So sorry you’re lonely friend.

  3. Heidi newton

    What if you really want friends but so depressed and you have had friends tell you that friendship aren’t here to deal with your problems. They text you and you want more than how are you I’m fine you ok.and that’s then end of conversation. But don’t get it wrong I love to help others and have just gone out of my way and made dinner for people would just pick up the phone anytime of night.

  4. livinglightlyinireland

    I really like your posts on friendship. I have always struggled to maintain friendships. I’m not really interested in chatting about people or events, I prefer chatting about ideas and theories. This bores most people and they move onto someone less cerebral. In recent years I’ve found great support in knitting groups. They’re more informal friendships and we all support one another collectively so it’s less pressurised than a one-to-one friendship. This has allowed deeper friendships to develop over the years and i can honestly say I no longer feel lonely now.

  5. Carmen Lane

    Unfortunately even at our age, I’m 49, and women are catty, 2- faced, and hypocritical. I thought I had a close knit group of friends until we went on our yearly memorial day beach trip and i had a fling with a man there. Was it wrong… yes. But it was nothing they hadn’t done before! In fact they would have the same group of guys meet them there every year! They had one there for the newbies to the girls trip. It was fine for me to be with him on my first beach trip. Until… one of the main girls met a guy at the beach, cheated on her husband with him for about a year, divorced her husband, then married him! My last beach trip, because of this fling, I was chastised and told I messed up! Because now the girl who married her fling… his family lived on that beach! What if they saw me? That made her and the others look bad like we did that all the time……WE DID! That same weekend two of the other regular girls had a fling with the chosen ones…. but that was ok! Since then I have had one breast friend who I met through work. She passed away on my birthday last year July 2018. I’ve had many more experiences with so called friends and I’ve decided I’m better without them!

  6. Kristy Everett

    Love this! ❤️Such an important topic and so important for all of us. Thank you for shining a light on this 🙏 as I really have been struggling with it

  7. Karen

    Oh the friend who loved you through your valley, Jess. You make so many of us stronger with your authenticity – I’m glad you have a tribe who lifts your weary arms in the good fight.

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