I asked my 3 year old granddaughter, Iris what I should write about for this week. She said, "why don't you write about our dinner last night." That got me thinking about friendship. We had a lovely dinner with old friends who used to live next door. It was warm and loving.
I have had a time with friendships. It wasn't until I started studying Buddhism that I was able to make sense of healthy friendship. Mine were not. They were either too close or too much based on me being a helper or a savior. I remember Iris' mom once saying to me after hanging up the phone with a girlfriend, "Was that one of your clients?"
It was while studying the 37 Practices of the Boddhisattva that once of the teaching screamed out at me. Here it is:
(5) From staying together with friends who misguide us, our hatred, desires and ignorance grow. With little time left to continue our studies, we don`t think of Dharma; we meditate less. Our love and compassion for all sentient beings are lost and forgotten while under their sway. Sever such ties with misleading companions - the Sons of the Buddhas all practise this way.
In codependency, one of the primary issues dealt with is boundaries. Setting boundaries with friendships at first might be difficult and trying but in the end will be rewarding. I began to pull back from my friendships. I remained as loving as I could but I definitely loosened my tether on them. I decided that if I had friendships that required lots of "processing" they were too intimate. I save those kind of interactions with family and my husband.
If you have a friendship that causes you grief or exhaustion, consider pulling back a bit and practicing full acceptance of that person "just as they are". There may be no need to end the friendship. The remedy might just be to love from afar and keep interactions on a less intimate level. If you have a "best friend" consider asking yourself if the friendship is mutually satisfying and placed on equal footing. All friendships should be balanced, what I call "two way". Each person should put equal energy into the friendship. If you do all the calling and inviting, the friendship is not balanced…hence you have codependency rather than friendship. Since I am married, I prefer not to have a best friend, leaving that energy for my husband. I have some treasured girlfriends that I go to to share about emotional issues because men tend not to be too good at that. Women just seem to understand the language of emotion better.
So remember not to fold into your friendships and heed lesson five from the 37 practices of the Boddhisattva.
Until next time, be well.