I now have an interesting view on friendship.
I remember sitting with one of my best girlfriends in high school, talking about what our lives would be like in the future. We saw ourselves as cranky old women, rocking on a porch and yelling at the little kids who ran across our lawns. We imagined we'd be friends forever. It wasn't until later in my life that I realized that I don't think I'm capable of being friends with someone forever.
That sounds terribly negative; I know. It's not a conclusion I was excited to arrive at, but after years of self-analysis and several friendships that I thought "failed," I was forced to conclude that I'm not a serial friendshipper.
There are some people who still have all of their friends from school: elementary, middle school, high school, or college, it doesn't matter. They have met and forged bonds with others that can stand the test of time. Their relationships can weather the storms of change that blow through our lives. No matter where they are in life, they can still touch base with these friends and revert right back into the affinity they had in school. I used to admire these people. I used to be jealous because I don't really have friends like this. Yes, I still have friends from my school days, and yes, we still get along wonderfully, but there's always an element of awkwardness when I get back together with them...awkwardness that comes from time apart and lives going in different directions. Whenever I met up with old school buddies I always left feeling like a failure because I didn't instantly rekindle the closeness I once felt with these friends. I couldn't figure out what my problem was.
Finally, it came to me: what if the close friendships I developed in high school/college were only meant to stay close in those contexts? Most, if not all, of my friendships have been founded on codependence. There existed specific needs on both sides of the relationship that the other person filled. Outside of high school or college, those needs disappeared, and so did our reliance on one another. That doesn't necessarily mean that the friendships died; the function of them simply changed. We didn't need to be so emotionally close to one another anymore. Sometimes, we simply found someone else to fill our needs. For example, the friend I generally regard as my best friend from my college days and I both got married. Our marital relationships are fulfilling, so the need for our emotional connection became obsolete. We are still friends, but the nature of our friendship has changed.
At the same time I came to this understanding, I made a (somewhat) contradictory discovery: I AM capable of maintaining lifelong friendships. As I've gotten older, gotten married, and acquired more siblings, I realized that I have a built-in network of friends who will always be a part of my life. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that my family relationships will last forever. No matter what paths our lives take, we have an ironclad connection that always keeps our relationship in context: family ties. I know it's cliche to say, but my husband, my parents, my siblings, my in-laws, MY FAMILY are my best friends, and they will stay my best friends for eternity.
It's like a weight has been lifted from off my shoulders. I no longer feel bad about not "keeping in touch" better with high school friends or college friends. Yes, they had a significant effect on my life at one time, I still love them for it, and they're still my friends, but they're not my "best" friends anymore. We don't need each other anymore, and it would be ludicrous to try and regain the closeness we had in school, akin to forcing two non-connecting puzzle pieces to fit together. Instead of wishing for the past, I'm looking toward the future, anticipating the variety of friends I will make and cherishing my forever friends: my family.
To all of my friends in all stages of my life so far, no matter how close or distant of friends we were: THANK YOU. You have changed me for the better, and I hope I've done some good in your lives as well.