Guest Author - Kathie LoMonaco
It's so nice to know you can pick up a phone, call your friend whom you've known for what seems like forever - and bounce a nagging problem off of her, and more times than not get a new perspective on it. There are so many things you can discuss with your friend(s) that your husband or significant other would not be able to identify with, even if they wanted to. When you have a life-long friend, you can be yourself, feel understood and validated, which is a feeling like no other.
Good friends are nurturers - they worry about you if you are stressed, or if you are dealing with a problem going on in your life, they are the first to jump in and want to help you, offering their moral support - which is a precious commodity that truly cannot be measured. With friends, there is no sibling rivalry; no competitiveness or secret agendas going on. True friends are not negative or judgmental towards you, they listen - because they care and don't want to see you in pain.
In many instances, old childhood issues or traumas interfere with relationships between siblings. For example, maybe they cannot get past "Mom liked you best", or maybe you were the child who received the most attention in the family growing up, or you were praised for being the responsible, hard working student. These issues would not only erode any relationship that might have been possible to develop at an earlier stage between you, but would also set the stage for underlying resentment and even hostility, which if not dealt with, would rear its ugly head even throughout your adult lives.
You can say just about anything to your close friend(s) - that you could not say to most family members. Sometimes one misunderstanding or "perceived" hurt could damage a sibling relationship for a lifetime. Believe me, I know firsthand. Even when things might eventually be smoothed over, it is just never the same. I don't know why - but there is always a lot of judgmental behavior going on - and issues that are so old, it would take a miracle - or ten years of psychotherapy, to resolve their conflict(s). More often than not these issues took root in a dysfunctional household - but that is fodder for another, future article.
If you are dealing with a sibling, or siblings who have deep-seated insecurities (fear-based), co-dependent type personalities, that usually adds to and exacerbates the initial issues they have. Unfortunately, you somehow get sucked into those issues - try to remember that they are their issues and insecurities, not yours. And, unfortunately, sometimes you might just have to walk away from these negative types of people/relationships, even if they are family members. Nothing and no one is worth giving up your mental health and well-being for. Becoming a victim - or not - is your choice.
Just remember - true friends are just that - true blue - and they love you just the way you are - and it is so liberating to know you can be yourself and speak your mind with them without fear of judgment or criticism, or ostricism, and that they have your best interests at heart. If you're lucky you also have one or two of these true-blue friends who you share a long history with - and who accept your weaknesses as well as admiring all the good qualities about you, and are equally proud to call you their friend.
The Value of Lasting Friendships? -- Priceless!