Forever Friends

I have always tried very hard not to hurt people’s feelings.  There are certain things I never write about in my blog, even when I’m struggling to find a topic for this week’s post, simply because I know that the post would cause someone pain.  And even though I usually have a lot to say about any given situation, there are times when I stay silent, because I know that my words would just make things worse.  I have even been known to tell a “little while lie” on those rare occasions when telling the truth would be a very hurtful thing.

Yet despite all my efforts to the contrary, I know for an absolute fact that I have, at one time or another, hurt the feelings of every single one of my close friends and relatives.  And as long as I’m being honest, I’ll admit that every single one of them has also hurt my feelings somewhere along the line.

I believe it’s impossible to be close to someone for any length of time and not say or do something that causes them at least a little bit of pain.  Sometimes it’s because we speak or act without thinking first.  Other times, we put a lot of thought into what we said or did and honestly believed that we were being helpful.  (And yet we weren’t.)  The bottom line is that it’s impossible to always know how our words and actions are going to be received and interpreted by others.  So every once in a while, we’re going to say and do exactly the wrong thing, often without having a clue that we’ve done so.

When I think of how easily misunderstandings occur in our relationships, I’m always just a little surprised that people manage to have long-term friends and close family relationships at all.  The key, I think, is the desire to keep those people in our lives and the willingness to forgive and forget all the little ways that we sometimes bump up against each other’s feelings.  I think it takes valuing someone enough to accept them for exactly who they are, which is precisely the same way we want them to accept us.  But however we manage it, long-term and close relationships are a gift to be treasured.

Ann's photoI turned sixty last month, and a few weeks afterwards I went out with some good friends to celebrate.   I “met” one of those friends when I was just one-year old and our mothers plunked us down in the same playpen.  I would have enjoyed the trip to the art museum, the happy hour by the lake, and the dinner at my favorite restaurant no matter what.  But I have to tell you, doing those things with dear friends I have known for forty years, and one I have known for almost my entire life, made the evening so much more special.

There really is nothing quite like sharing a milestone birthday with old friends who have shared so much of my life’s journey.  Perhaps, if I am very lucky, I will be celebrating my 80th birthday with those same friends.  And maybe I’ll even write about it in a blog called “Muddling Through My Golden Years.”

93 thoughts on “Forever Friends

  1. An old friendship is something very special, which must be nurtured like any kind of close relationship. I regret that I lost many a good friend from the Old Country partly due to neglect on my part to maintain the ties over such a large distance. Congratulations, late but nevertheless heart-felt, on you reaching a new milestone at the big 60! You are right, Ann, soon you should call your blog muddling through my golden years. Haha!

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    • Well, if I’m still blogging when I’m 80, then I’ll call it that for sure! Ha! And I can’t imagine how hard it would be to keep a friendship going from Canada to Europe, especially in the days before the internet. No wonder you lost touch!

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  2. When we grow to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and misgivings… and forgive others for their’s, life becomes so much sweeter.
    Your celebration sounds like a wonderful milestone in your life 💕

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    • I agree! Friendships do require effort, as does any worthwhile relationship, I think. But just like a marriage, they’re worth it. Thanks so much for the comment!

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  3. Good friends and family are priceless even if we hit a few bumps along the way. We grow and learn when this happens as it makes us appreciate the good times even more. Such a wonderful topic as each of us can relate. 😊💗

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    • Thanks! I have a cousin who once told me, “Of course we’re going to disagree sometimes. We’re family. We’ll fight, forgive each other, and keep on going, because that’s what family does.” I found that rather comforting.

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  4. I also have a few “forever friends” that I’ve known since I was in diapers. It is sort of amazing when you think about what these friendships have endured as we all make our way through life. Belated birthday wishes and an enthusiastic YES! to blogging into our 80s!

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    • I know! That’s what I kept thinking when we were out to dinner together…”I’m sixty! And I’ve known these people since I was 22, and one of them since I was 1!” It almost seemed surreal…
      I hope we are both blogging when we’re in our 80s!

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  5. Ann, I’m happy for your that you have friends that have been there most of your life. It’s really honest and commendable that you realize you’ve hurt every person’s feelings, and they’ve hurt yours at some point. But what’s wonderful is that all parties have been able to get past it. What does that say about the depth of these relationships? It’s amazing to me and I wish I could say the same! Good for you and your great friends.

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    • Yes, whenever I’m tempted to nurse hard feelings because of something someone has said or done to me, I just think, “And how many times have I accidentally hurt their feelings? And do I really think this was intentional?” That helps me put things into perspective, very fast. Plus, I have gotten so much good from these relationships that I would never want to walk away…they are deep, as you say!

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  6. It is true that the presence of friends makes any event special! I can’t even recall the menu of some of the best celebrations but the laughter and conversation remains fresh – I guess I’ve remembered the important parts! I read this and that old Girl Scout song popped into my head “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” So true! Friends are the real treasures in life!

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    • Oh yes! Old friends are wonderful, but so are new ones. And I’m the same way in that I remember who I was with more than what I actually did whenever I think of past events. It’s the relationships that are most important.

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  7. Just as it takes two to create a relationship, so it takes two to dissolve one. I am known by quite a few people by my saying “I’ll expect perfection from you as soon as I can set the example. Everybody is safe for the foreseeable future” – It simply means that we should not expect perfection from ourselves or our friends. We are all capable of reacting without thinking things through. We all know that different perspectives on the same situation can produce issues. We all know that simple misunderstandings can occur. If we all practice that knowledge, so many more relationships would survive.
    If we all were more sensitive to others and did not jump to conclusions/pre-judge, then, again, more relationships would survive………… but back to my quote, because we are not perfect. The best we can do is the best we know how, and move forward regardless of the outcome.
    What this means to you Ann ….. is you are quite normal from my perspective! Great Post.

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  8. This post reminded me of something that hospice workers suggest the dying patient say to loved one: I forgive you, please forgive me.

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  9. You and I are thinking along such similar lines these days! Growing older, loving those dear old friends, realizing that one will inevitably hurt and be hurt. This aging process is more interesting and thought provoking than I thought it would be!

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    • It is, isn’t it? Especially if we focus more on our thoughts and emotions than on our bodies (which are going to age despite anything we do to them). I value my close friends and family so much more these days, even though I see them (and myself) so much more clearly than I ever did. We are all imperfect, yet wonderful, beings!

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  10. Oh how fortunate you are to have these friends! Happy 60th Birthday Ann! Look forward to reading about #80 – a long time from now 🙂 – as we continue to cherish the moments. Hugs!!!

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  11. A poignant sixtieth birthday post!

    I was thinking about this very topic recently…how we all manage to hurt each other, inadvertently or otherwise and if forgiveness were not practiced we would most likely be a lonely lot! It is very interesting how perspectives are often so different and it sonetimes ot takes giving space and time to let things rest and heal.

    “Old” friendships have a very special place for most of us…these early childhood bonds are irreplaceable.

    Wonderful post and belated happy birthday.

    Peta

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  12. Congrats on making 60!
    What a delightful celebration with very special friends … I don’t live physically close to mine so I try to visit annually and then we get to celebrate annually instead of just the big birthdays 🙂

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  13. Love this post! What you say about being hurt, or hurting someone you care about really resonated with me. I think it’s ok to get angry sometimes…healthy to get emotions out. This part resonated with me today because someone told me it takes up too much energy to be angry, yet sometimes you need to! I’m ranting, but thanks for this post today. I needed it!

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    • I agree, sometimes it is healthy to let our anger out! We just have to be careful not to hurt others when we do it. And honestly, it’s so easy to say or do something that can be misinterpreted even when we’re calm. I have learned through the years that forgiveness is so important in a relationship, unless of course, one person is being deliberately hurtful. In that case, it’s time to get out of the relationship.
      Glad this post spoke to you!!!

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    • Thank you! Given human nature, I honestly think it’s impossible to be around someone a lot and not rub each other the wrong way now and then. The important thing is to remember that it’s not intentional, and doesn’t mean we don’t care deeply about each other.

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  14. Oh Anne, you touched on so many wonderful points here about friendship. I too, am so blessed to have friends in my life who have been with me through thick & thin. Although we may not always agree on things, we respect one another enough to hear & see another perspective. There are times in all relationships where we feel hurt by someone or vice versa. It can be difficult to openly talk about things that are difficult to discuss but recognizing we are human, in understanding each other better & perhaps a bit of forgiveness can only make our relationships stronger.

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    • Thank you! Even in my small circle of very close friends, there is a definite range of opinions on many important topics. Yet we can discuss almost anything without getting into an argument. I think it helps that we tend to say, “I disagree” or “I see it a little differently” rather than “You’re wrong.” “You’re wrong” just stops the discussion and turns it into an argument. It also helps that we are okay with disagreeing….I really don’t want to be one of those people who is only close to people who think just like me!

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  15. This is so true, Ann. One of my favorite mantras is “We assume one another’s good intent.” For some reason, though, giving the benefit of the doubt is easier to do for friends and family than for strangers. Lots to ponder here…

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    • Oh, I agree it’s so much easier to assume good intent with those people we know well, especially when we know they are good people. It’s harder when we don’t know much about a person’s personality. Still, it’s probably a good policy to adopt until proven otherwise. Thanks for that comment!

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  16. Firstly, Happy 60th Birthday for last month! I love this post – so much truth in it. Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts which I do agree with. I think it’s impossible to go through life without inadvertently hurting someone. I like to think of myself as being very sensitive to other’s feelings and being very careful not to hurt them, but I’m sure I’ve done that at some time, even those closest to me. I know I’m maybe a bit too sensitive as I often imagine I have hurt someone only to apologise profusely and for them to say I’ve done nothing of the sort. I’ll learn one day, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I do love your posts even if I don’t comment very often – lots of food for thought – I’m glad I found your blog. I hope you’re still writing when you reach your 80th birthday x

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    • Thank you for your sweet comment! I tend to be a little thin-skinned as well, so when I feel hurt, the first thing I ask myself is, “Is this really a problem, or am I just being a bit too sensitive here?” And if I think it really is a problem, then I ask myself if I think the person was deliberately trying to be hurtful, and the answer is almost always “no.” So then I just forgive it, forget it and move on!

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  17. Tolerance! My oldest friend, met at age 11, and I have differing political views but we don’t let that stand in the way of our friendship. (She’s wrong, of course, but I don’t rub it in 😉).

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  18. You conveyed this perfectly. Thank you for your sincere words! I try to live by this simple mantra: “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

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  19. The mark of a good friendship is that it remains standing amidst all sorts of faults and problems. I’m glad you still have good, ongoing ones. And – happy belated birthday!

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  20. In one of my favorite old Carol Burnett sketches, two newborns are in side by side hospital basinets. Many years later, two ancient men (the same two persons) are fading away in side-by-side hospital beds, and one turns to the other and says, “How was it for you?”

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  21. Firstly, belated congratulations Ann on your milestone birthday. How very special to share it with old and dear friends. Your post as always is so relatable. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t occasionally say or feel upset at words spoken, neither if we couldn’t forgive, either ourselves or others. Happy blogging Ann, I hope I’m still reading your wonderful posts at 80! 🙂

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  22. a belated Happy Birthday, Ann, welcome to the 60’s club. Recognizing that it is impossible not to hurt feelings from time to time even with the best intentions and effort is important. Coupling that with a willingness to forgive oneself and others for those same errors of being human as well as owning ones errors can make such a difference in our relationships and the world. So much more room to be real and possibilities for growth and learning.
    And if we’re going to be blogging another 20 years, we better be growing and learning!

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  23. I’m hitting this milestone in August, so can relate to all of it, especially the part about unintentionally hurting people’s feelings, and having mine hurt. Seriously, it never gets any easier.

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