When I was a kid, I remember my mother talking about people who were ‘fair weather friends’; only around in the good times and disappeared when the skies got cloudy. I was determined never to be that. I’ve done my share of dancing in the rain with friends, as they have with me. We have waded through mud and splashed in puddles; we have bailed each other out of messy and mucky situations and have welcomed the liquid nourishment when our life landscapes have been parched.
I am blessed to have had very few who were only around when the sun was shining, since they were unable or unwilling to weather storms together. I do have a motley crew of fun companions and anam cara (Gaelic for ‘soul friends’) who I can count on and who can count on me.
I was just thinking recently that there is another category of folks that I would call ‘prn friends’. In medical terms, prn means “when necessary” (from the Latin “pro re nata”, for an occasion that has arisen, as circumstances require, as needed.”) I imagine you know people like that who only show up when they want something from you, whether it is time, attention, money, favors, sex…. There was a time when I didn’t know how to set boundaries, since I was such an emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people. These days, I can sense them a mile away and steer clear. I value mutually supportive (and as my father used to say) “one hand washes the other” relationships.
Why had I ‘invited’ them in, in the first place, or allowed them to remain when I clearly knew they were unhealthy, or downright toxic at times? Mostly because I thought I could charm, beguile or otherwise entice them to be more supportive or demonstrative. Surely, if they saw my value, they would want to stick around when I needed them too. In retrospect, it feels manipulative. All part and parcel of the co-dependent dynamics that had long ruled and run my life. On the surface, it looked like I was everyone’s sweetheart, so how could anyone resist my appeal? A few days ago, when chatting with a friend, she commented something like “You are so well loved.” indicating that everyone in our circles was drawn to me. I shared with her that although I have many people in my life, there are only a handful that I truly let into the inner sanctum. I have this image to project and protect, you know. If everyone knew my (not so secret) secret that I feel angry, sad, scared, jealous, judgmental, frustration, loss, despondent….human, they would vanish into vapor. Guess what….no one has…HAH, take that, monkey- mind-fire-breathing-dragon-inner-critic that doesn’t want me to give it a rest! Even when I woke up this morning before 4 a.m. with the ‘not enough litany’ running through my mind, I was able to rock it back to sleep and then came a dream in which, once again, I couldn’t keep up with my intentions, lost my purse (found it in a snow drift, intact), had one hour to prep for a wedding I was to officiate and hadn’t even written the ceremony and wasn’t dressed for the role. Good thing I woke up and all was well…whew!
Perhaps my own mind is a prn friend who flakes on me when I need it most.
Friends- Bette Midler