I had the pleasure (a rather heavy cathartic kind of pleasure, but there's no other word I can think of for it), of spending the evening with my oldest friend. We met in 8th grade and instantly became best friends. Now, 27 years later, we go months without talking, a sometimes even a year without a good in person visit, but when given the opportunity to be together, we slip immediately into the kind of authentic conversation that mark the best friendships. She's my only friend I've maintained any kind of a relationship with from my youth. She's known me through it all, adolescence, young adulthood, marriage, kids, now divorce. Like everyone else, she told me tonight that I was the last person she could ever have imagined getting divorced. I just wouldn't, she said. Our greatest strengths being our greatest weaknesses (something we both believe in), she said my stubbornness and unwillingness to give up on anything I believed in would have prevented it given any scenario other than this one. The one where you realize it really does take two and if one person decides to walk out that door, there's really nothing you can do about it (despite what I tried to tell myself for the four months we were "trying" (i.e. I was trying) to salvage things.
Good friends can make you cry on purpose, not in a hurtful way, but in a kind, therapeutic way by asking the tough questions. They know far more history than any therapist and can challenge you to look at a lifetime of patterns. I'm so grateful that I have a healthy supply of them, and particularly one that has known me for more than a quarter of a century. And next week I get to see my four college girlfriends. Though I've only known them for a mere 22 years, they fall into the same category! So, yay for friends.