It had been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Big things happened. Hard things.
Something about the way the storm spun that day made me feel more alone than I’d ever felt. (Well, at least in a long time.) I wanted to be alone. I needed to be alone. But the feelings of loneliness and uncertainty that rushed in unannounced shook my balance. It pushed me into a pocket of my own humanity I’m uncomfortable with.
The culmination of events that day and the days preceding it laid the groundwork for a new view.
I spoke to my friend with whom things had become shaky and confusing and more painful than I wanted to allow. This person whom I had referred to as my best friend for a relatively significant period of time. My safety net.
Feeling let down and abandoned, insignificant and angry, I said, “I don’t have a best friend.”
I’m not sure how it felt to hear those words, but saying them was both freeing and imprisoning.
I thought I had a best friend. I wanted to believe I did. After all, outside of this person, I had several others whom I referred to as my “best friends.” People I’ve known my whole life. People who at one time knew me better than anyone else. People who no matter how much time passes between our conversations, I know that as soon as we talk, it’ll be as if no time has passed. People I trust with all I have.
The truth is though, outside of my family, I don’t actually have that anymore. Not in a way that fulfills the authentic meaning of the label “best friend.”
Those people still exist. They’re there if I call to them and I’m there when they call to me. We keep in touch through Facebook or occasional texts and rare phone calls. I give updates and receive information about their lives in return.
But something about the way the pieces fell that day made me realize that having a real best friend isn’t as easy as I’ve always believed and wanted it to be; especially not as an adult.
My safety net has holes.
Having a person in whom we can confide fully. Someone with no ulterior motives. Someone who’s jealousy doesn’t overshadow your connection. Someone who truly wants the best for us. A person who can be genuinely happy for our happiness and genuinely sad for our sadness. Someone who invests in us as much as we invest in them. Someone who cares about us and our heart as much as we care about theirs.
These people are hard to find.
Much harder than they should be in my opinion.
I’ve never been a skeptical type person. I’ve always believed the best of people. I’ve always believed that the world operated the same way I do and that people really do care.
I’m not so sure I believe that anymore. Not the way I used to.
I can hold in my hands the number of people I fully trust in my life. That number seems to get even smaller as I get older.
Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe people care. Or, I believe they want to care. But the truth is, when it comes right down to it; especially in our busy adult lives, people are incapable of caring quite as much as we need them to.
We have our own lives. Our own struggles. Our own schedules and obligations. Ultimately, those come first. And they should. But it means that when the tides of life over-power us; when our safety net gets cut and we find ourselves hanging from that tethered rope, we may discover that the people we wanted to be there for us aren’t able to catch us.
It’s why we aren’t supposed to build our safety nets with people.
Inevitably and unintentionally, people will let us down. They do their best, but no matter what, there will be holes left by their imperfections. Gaps left by their humanness.
We’ll do the same to them. Lord knows I’ve done my fair share of disappointing people and leaving holes in their nets.
But I continue to learn that God is the only one who can plug those holes. The only one who can catch us when all we’ve got left are the holes.
I’ve always been taught that; even by the people who I trust more than I trust myself-like my mom. I’ve always known that no matter how great a person is, at the end of the day, they are still a person. An imperfect, unqualified, doing the best they can person. Even those of us who do genuinely care and want to be there for each other fail at times because we simply cannot plug all the holes created by life.
I’m a firm believer in the truth that we need each other. We are desperate for each other, in fact. Yet, we miss each other.
I don’t want to stop believing in people. I don’t want to stop trusting people. Nevertheless, my experiences have left me no choice but to view life with my eyes wide open.
We do need each other. But we also need MORE than each other.
So maybe I don’t have one best friend to name. Maybe I’m more careful now. Maybe I pull back. Maybe I protect my heart a bit better and reserve my trust for those who have truly earned it. Maybe I’m learning what it means to bring someone into the center of my heart and discovering that outside of my family (and sometimes within it), very few belong there.
Maybe, despite the growing pains of friendship, there’s still room for others in my heart and in my life, even if their place looks different than I thought it would originally. Maybe it’s good enough to just have friends. Not “best” friends, but good ones. People who come when they can and leave when they have to.
The tides of life rise and fall, and with it, our relationships.
Maybe it’s okay to loosen my grip on our need for each other down here because ultimately, my grip should be placed a bit further in and a bit further up anyway.
The safety net has gaps; and all I know for sure is that expecting other people to fill them only ensures I will fall through.
God gives us each other to be the ropes of the net, but only He can fill the holes.