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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Lessons We Learn...
...before I begin... sometime last night I got my 60,000th unique visitor to this blog. Possibly. It's according to BlogPatrol, and with the downtime they've had off and on over the last 3 years it's possible that I got that visitor weeks ago. But either way, their counter now registers 60K. Thank you to everyone who reads.

...welcome to Part 3 (yes, the final part). For those joining the party late:
Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here

Remember I mentioned that there are lessons that needed to be learned? Here are a couple of them.

1 - Your friends tell you things that you do not want to hear because they love you and don't want to see your heart broken.
2 - The advice Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura abrasively give on their shows to those folks you laugh at is the same advice your friend gives you in love. It doesn't mean you're a loser, it means that there is something you need to take care of.
3 - That trying to apologize, after hurt feelings on all sides and accusations made in anger are aired, might not be as easy as you'd like it to be. Especially after trust has been damaged.

Trust. That's another part of the equation. When someone feels that their friend betrayed them, attacked them, there's a change on both sides when it comes to trust. The person who feels slighted is sure that they cannot trust this so-called friend they depended on. The person who gave the advice gets mad at the reaction and then doesn't trust the other person they tried to help. It becomes a nasty and vicious cycle. But I digress.

When you figure out those three lessons that's when it's time to put away your toys, clean up your room, make your bed and figure out what you really want out of life. It might mean tucking your tail between your legs and apologizing to people that you hurt. It might mean admitting that you're wrong and that you exaggerated. It might mean giving up that idea that someone is just focused on making you miserable. It might mean that no matter what you do or say it's too late to fix what has been broken. You won't know until you try. And if you decide to never try, then you'll never know.

Learning to apologize, even when you think it's futile, is a lesson we all learn at some point in our lives, and it's never too late to learn it until it's too late. When is it too late? When you've said things that you can't take back. When the other person has left this earth. When you decide that your ego, your image, and your need for sympathy is more important to you than admitting that you're wrong. When you've reached that point, there's little hope that the friendships you form during the rest of your life will survive for any great length of time. At least that's my opinion, based on observations I've made during my life.

Now, this isn't to say that you can't get angry with your friends. It happens. You have small skirmishes, and then you wonder why you're fighting over this at all. I am fortunate to be friends with some ladies just like that. There's about a dozen women I know that I'd do just about anything with, travel almost anywhere for (if I'm able to get there), and would have a great time with as we're talking about what we did to land ourselves in a jail cell for a night. There are more I'm sure, but there's dozen that I can think of off the top of my head. And I'm thankful for each and every one of them because I've been friends with control freaks, bullies (especially those lovely ones that realize they can't push you around, so they turn your friends against you using lies and rumors), users, ego-cases and those who are so image-conscious that they realize you aren't good for their image.

Sign of bad judgment, of being too-trusting? No, just willing to believe the best of people and fell into a companionable situation that I believed to be a good friendship. I've learned over the years, and became a little more suspicious, but not to the point where I closed myself off from people. It's too bad that some people get to the point where they can't trust anyone as a friend. And friendships die even when you have these lessons under your belt, maybe not because of anything you had control over or because of anything you did.

Ah, I've rambled on long enough about this. I guess what I'm trying to say is this: true friendship, just like marriage, isn't sunshine and roses all the time. Sometimes there are dark clouds and rough times to get through. But those things usually make the relationship stronger, because you know it's someone who loves you and is trying to help you. You must hold onto true friendships with both hands because they are fragile and precious. I've watched (and been in) my share of friendships that have fallen apart because of something as simple as a misunderstanding or as serious as a breach of trust and it just further emphasizes that anything can break two friends apart. So be sure to tell those people that are important to you as friends how important they are, how much you value them and appreciate their honesty. Remember that they are going to support you on the things that are right, and reality check you for the things that they feel might be wrong for you. They're not going to lie to you just to make you feel better, or if they do, they'll retract it later because they were trying to help you through a rough time. They'll help you plot about where to hide the bodies of the people that are mean to you, and they know all your secrets and you know theirs.

Always be good to your true friends and they will be good to you.

February is coming, and that's often a time of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and hot debates that goes on in the online communities that I belong to. While I'd really like to reject the reality that is February, I can't because the calendar says that I cannot. As do several family members because they have birthdays during the month of February (I know about 12 people who have birthdays that month, blood family and sisters by another mother, and other good close friends). I'd like to start the movement that we use February to appreciate our friends and the people in our lives - something we should always do, but probably aren't always aware of.