Thursday, February 05, 2009

What about your friends? Part I- Steel Sharpens Steel

As I've gotten older, my circle of friends has become narrower. I attribute this to three things: growth, movement and revelations. I have dozens of aquaintances the country and world over... but really only a few people I call friend-- I'd say the circle is about 10 people deep. No more. No less. The reasons I call them friend are different and multitudinous, but there are a few basic characteristics that they all have in common.

Steel Sharpens Steel
Spiritual/Emotional Intelligence
and Quirkiness.

Today I will talk about the first,

Steel sharpens Steel:
You ever see those commercials for knives that can cut through anything and always stay sharp? That is a lie. They eventually go dull, if they are not sharpened. Ever seen a REAL chef cook? They have knives that may cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, and they keep those suckers sharp... on steel rods and sharpeners. I have one in my house. There is a reason steel is so good at this. Most quality cooking knives are made of tempered steel. And can only be sharpened PROPERLY by tempered steel. The same concept applies to people

My friends are the same way. Their steel sharpens my steel, and vice versa. Each of them has a quality that I admire and aspire to in myself. Whether is passion, clarity, focus, health consciousness, temperment... there are things that any person who is keen on personal evolution has identified in themselves that needs work, and they seek the company of folk who got it down. Not co-incidentally, 'keen on personal evolution' types are also people who have something going on that is an admirable quality. So it goes both ways.

Par example: my friend K. is a gym rat. She is super health conscious, but still struggles with her own body image issues. She was the one that got me really thinking about my health and being proactive about it. We are work out buddies, foodie buddies and life buddies. On the flip, she admires my flair for the fashionable and being able to dress my body flatteringly and embracing (okay, not really, but adequately accepting) my flaws as beautiful with room for improvement. Steel sharpening Steel.

The converse of this is people who are something other than Steel trying to get down with your Steel. Either they are too sharp (rocks) or too soft (tin foil). These relationships are troublesome. Its not to say they are not nice or good people, that they are not good in general... but they may not be good FOR YOU. If you are serious about who you give that special label "friend" to, then you definitely think about these things... almost unconsciously. And if you are friends with them, these friendships are almost organically shed. You grow apart and lead different lives. Its natural and nothing to be ashamed of.

Tin foil people do you no good. You cut through them. They are too soft for you, and moreover, they may try to wrap themselves and their issues around you, thereby reducing your shine and trying to mimic your shape. Its not that you are perfect and they are not worthy. But consider this... you have issues, so do they. But they may not be ready, willing or able to deal with their issues on the level that you are, want, or need to be. Thus, they can become a drag. Ever have a friend that when they call, you stare at the caller ID and conemplate picking up? Not because you are busy or otherwise engaged, but because you KNOW they are going to have some kind of issue to dump all over you... and they want a quick bail out. Its usually the SAME issue or some close variation each time. This kind of friend is going to reduce your shine and sharpness.

Par example: I had a girlfriend in HS that I loved to death. I was new in town and she was the first friend I made. But, as we got older, our lives diverged. We were both in the honors track in HS, so she was not dumb. But she had daddy issues (her father passed and she had NO upstanding male role models... save MY father) and a mother who was physically unable to supervise her teenage daughter. As a result she had a string of loser men, who did everything from give her an STD to pimp her out to their friends to cheat with her on their wives. This all culminated in her getting pregnant and having a child by a man with 10 other kids by 4 baby mamas. She inadvertently tried to make her issues my issues by 1) trying to get me caught up with her foolishness in HS, 2) disappearing when she knew she had done wrong and I would come down on her for it and 3) me being a 'financial father' to her child because the real daddy wasn't doing jack-- I mean down to I put my job and reputation on the line to make sure they were taken care of.

She was bringing down my stock, and the older I got, the more I realized it and pulled away from her. She is a good person and a sweet girl, but her issues or rather, her lack of ability to own them and make progressive insightful decsions about changing them, made me think twice about calling her to chat or picking up the phone when she called me... because she might dump on me again. TIN FOIL. Sometimes, dealing with her made me feel and behave like our next group of people... ROCKS.

Think about what words come to mind when you hear the word 'rock'. Abraisive, rough, jagged, cuts, hard, heavy... These people, by their very being and essence chip away at your being and essence. Steel knives can be chipped, broken or even smashed by rock. These types of friends are not necessarily bad people, but they do carry themselves as if they're better than YOU. They like to pontificate and make declarations from their pedestal, while ignoring their own short comings. They have many knicknames... holy rollers, hypocrites, snobs, elitists. Each time they speak to you or present you with an issue, they make a declaration about how messed up you or your situation is, and add that they would a) never let themselves get in said situation or b) how their solution to said situation is better than yours. If they know your buttons, they might just smash your spirit to bits.

Last example: I had a friend who I loved, but I could never be open with her about my issues, and I didn't even really like being around her. She seemed so 'perfect'. She was pretty, popular, smart and entertaining. I have always struggled with my body issues and I was a nerd and painfully shy in HS. She would say things like "Well you have a pretty face, but you're too big-boned (her fave euphemism for fat) for guys to be interested" or "You are really smart, but you need to get out more." Her compliments were always backhanded and I never really talked to her about serious things. She never knew deep secrets about me because I was afraid of her judgement. If i spoke to her today, she would be FLOORED to know that I am happily married, that my husband thinks I am the sexiest thing walking the earth, that I am "the life o' the party" and give people gigglefits. Her desire to self evolve was non- existent, because she thought she had been blessed by perfection. Had I had a stronger will in those days, I would have told her to go take a long walk off a short pier, after telling her about herself... but I was lonely, shy and longed for friends. So I figured that kind of a friend was all I was worth. Not. A. Good. Look.

Continue with me in my journey exploring the characteristics of FRIENDS--Stay tuned for parts II and III of this series... as well as the belated continuation of the Relationship Crypt as well as more random funny shyt...

I'm waxing reflective and so should you, from time to time.

Peace and love...

The Retrospect


Anonymous said...

GIRL!!!!! That was a good ass post!!!!

I have 5 friends that I consider "true"....Because real friends "is"...


That's a true friend....:)

suga said...

Great blog.

I was blessed with great friends
(10 close girlfriends) and I think it truly had to do with the example my mother and grandmother set with their female friends. Seeing people have strong friendships for 20, 30, 40, and 50 years was great inspiration.

Lil Honey B said...

Great post!! I have encountered some "friends" that I like to refer to as energy vampires because they took all my positive energy and replaced it with negativity and spite. Definitely rocks.