I’ve been sort of jaded by relationships—the ones that don’t stand the test of time. The ones that clutter the path of my life, leaving glaring evidence that they didn’t end well. For years I’ve tried to blame the other person—the one that did the walking away. I’ve only just begun to realize that I’m just as much at fault for standing back and just watching them leave.
I’ve been thinking about my best friend recently. You know, that shy little girl I met in fourth grade who didn’t turn out to be as shy as she first appeared. At. All. I started thinking about all the not-so-pretty seasons of our friendship (and trust me, there have been a few). And I started wondering how we—being the two opposites that we are—actually overcame all of our struggles and made it this far. How did we survive the tests of time and trial and love and sacrifice and swallowing my pride to say that I—yes, I—am sorry even when I’m still convinced that she’s the one in the wrong?
How is it that my greatest and dearest friendship is the one that has been the hardest for me to keep?
Then I realized that what was really hard about our relationship wasn’t so much what we experienced, but what we survived. Because I faced a lot of junk in my other relationships, too. But the thing that made those different from my relationship with Emily is that, with the others, I simply walked away and left the mess behind. Emily and I couldn’t do that, no matter how badly we sometimes wanted to. No, we had to stay and clean the mess. Take out the trash. Make it so there was room to breathe once more.
And I’m realizing that the key to thriving friendships is not in what you face, but in who you deem worth it. Worth the hardship. Worth the struggle. Worth saving no matter the cost.
Somewhere along the lines of our friendship, I decided Emily was worth it. Because I tried to walk away from her before. When the going got tough, I pulled away—just as I had with every other relationship in my life. But walking away from Emily was like walking away from myself. I needed her too badly—even when I tried to convince myself it was she who needed me.
The thing about relationships is that they are fragile. You’re going to hurt and be hurt. You’re going to fail and be failed. There’s no getting around that—it’s what humans do. And sometimes it’s okay to walk away from those train wreck relationships. But there are a few—precious few—that you must fight for. That you must be willing to lay your pride down to save.
And if you’re looking for the kind of friend who will be there for the rest of your life, here’s my oh so simple, yet impossibly difficult advice: You must decide that she is worth it—so absolutely worth it—because loving her isn’t always going to be easy. But then, the best relationships never are…