When you go from accepting the solitude that creeps under your skin ever so slowly, to actively choosing it even when you have the opportunity to socialize, you know something has shifted in your head again. An incident a few weeks go, made me realise that what I value most in any friendship is just honesty. The friends I choose, whether someone I am just happy to hang out with or someone I am extremely close to, are usually people I can be honest with, and who are honest with me.
Of them the friends that stick around the longest, the relationships that endure even phases of being estranged, are those that I have a high level of comfort with — the ability to bare my soul, confess secrets to, share my fears hopes and issues with (I suppose this is a manifestation of honesty?). The relationships that have suffered the most are those that have borne the brunt of dishonesty of some sort. Not necessarily because of any malicious intent, but just sometimes the with-holding of information, the unwillingness to just be open and transparent, or to needlessly cower behind an insecurity.
Yes, I’ve turned picky about not just the friends I keep but how I spend my time too. And yes, as much as I like the current less-is-more state of relationships in my life, it hurts a little when one of them feels like they’ve snapped. A couple of weeks ago, I got into a full-blown rant to the hugsband about the dwindling state of my relationship with a friend in Goa. The incident made me see again, that its possible for someone I once held close, considered a good friend, shared a wonderful relationship with, to stop valuing our friendship as much. And while I can accept things change, I berate myself over what could possibly have changed that much. I am getting better at dealing with change in equations, disappointments with people, and I have been quick to move on and on from stale relationships, or made confrontations and fixed those I valued, but it’s become nearly impossible to be at the receiving end of a pretend-relationship. Nothing makes me madder than to exist in that bubble, of sporadic interaction, where you have to suspend all expectation and continue to pursue the relationship, be repeatedly disappointed, yet do nothing because of neither side has the courage to sever old ties and move on. Despite all evidence pointing out loud and clear that nothing is the same.
What it leads to, and this is the part I absolutely hate, is having to encounter many an awkward situation, tip-toeing around uneasily, constantly second guessing a situation, all because a tiny bit of honesty is missing. It is absolutely infuriating to realise in retrospect that a small shred of information, that could very easily have been shared and probably could have smoothed the edges out a long time ago, has suddenly becomes this big wedge that’s driven itself so deeply between me and someone I once loved and respected.
The hugsband pointed out something interesting though, which added to the epiphany. I have changed a fair share too, in that I have lost all the ability to pander to peoples immaturity, insecurity and anything else that causes them to be dishonest. I think it takes a healthy level of maturity on either side of a relationship, to treat it with respect. When that is missing, it becomes evident that said friend probably no longer feels the same way (Or maybe they never did?). Where some months ago, I might have taken the trouble to call out an event or incident that upset me, now I am quick to waste no time in deciding that if someone is behaving a certain way, it is probably their choice rather than mere circumstance. I waste no time trying to fix that situation and I’d rather save that energy and effort for the relationships that I respect and value.
This is probably why I will always be the kind of person with a single digit number of “good friends”. I realise now more than ever that it was never a number game for me. There have been periods of time in my life when I had just one really close friend and that was the end of my friends “circle”. Quite a contrast to now, where I have multiple groups of good friends in Goa that fit different needs. And then there are the really good friends with whom I feel an unbelievable closeness. This number is constantly fluctuating, and at the moment this circle lies outside of Goa. They’re the ones I will probably call in a crisis, despite the lack of proximity to actually be around.
There was a time not too long ago when that circle of people I could depend on for almost anything, existed entirely in Goa. Changing situations change people, I’m aware. And sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s just that — things don’t change, PEOPLE do. So when I ranted to the hugsband that it does pain me when a relationship changes, he reminded me that its probably something that has shifted in the minds of people involved, and that I shouldn’t get myself down and hold myself responsible for it. The only difference is that I am far more accepting of this change now, than before. The rant lasted all of twenty minutes, before an unusual acceptance washed over me easily. Quite a change given that friends, friendships, expectations and the effort to sustain them, used to be a cause for much emotional tumult at one time in my life.
I just don’t have the mental and emotional bandwidth to deal with it anymore. I am almost smug with the knowledge that a relationship, any relationship, is a two-way street. There are some non-negotiables, and honesty is definitely one of them. If someone is dishonest with me, I take it as a reflection of the value that our relationship holds or doesnt hold. And since I can’t pretend to be in a pretend-friendship, I find myself actively choosing to be alone, whether at home or wandering around outside, even when faced with the opportunity to socialize.