It's an easy word to say, but what does it really mean? After all, we throw it out there like it was a common ordinary everyday thing-"he's my friend", "we are good friends", etc. I have been giving some thought to this subject all day, because of the situation described in my last entry, and I have to say, it is not a very easy subject to define.
I guess that many, if not most, of those you ask would say that there are levels of friendship. For instance, the friend you have at work is not the same as your buddy you went to school and grew up with. The "family friend" or your significant others' friend may be someone you are friendly with, but not necessarily friends. You may have friends here, but they may not be the same as your "real" friends.
For me, friendship is simple. A friend is someone who sticks by you in the bad times. Everybody wants to be your friend when things are good, but how many of them stick when things fall apart? How many of them stick by you when things have been falling apart for quite a while?
A friend is someone who stands with you through good and bad, right or wrong. Even if you are wrong, a friend supports you, while counseling a better path. A friend doesn't walk away because it is convenient to do so, because it is politically correct, or because you are just plain wrong.
A friend doesn't walk away because of negative actions which may occur to him personally if he stays. I can't count the number of times that I have been materially or financially (and physically, on occasion!) harmed because I refused to walk away from a friend in need.
So, how does all of that translate to an on-line forum? Well, you tell me. Is a friend any less of a friend just because you have never met him face-to-face? Do different rules apply just because you may never meet this person in person? Are your "requirements" for friendship different just because it is on-line?
I say no.
If you are going to take the time and make the effort to call someone your "friend", then be there for that person in the good times AND the bad. That's the mark of friendship.
There will be times that they are not right or times that they start a fight that they just can't win, there will be times when they get smacked down in a dramatic fashion, and there will be times when you wonder just exactly what the fuck they were thinking of when they made those comments or did whatever it was that they did. There will be times when you just shake your head and wonder why they are persisting on following a dead-end path when everyone knows its a dead-end.
There will be times when you just want to say "fuck it" and walk away, because this clown is so fucking stupid that it hurts.
Those are the times when your friend needs you the most.
If you are going to take the time to call yourself someones "friend", take a moment beforehand to think about what that really means before you push that button. It's a two way street.
I used to say that I only had 12 true friends, and (at last count) 7 of them are dead. Back then, I defined friendship as someone I trust to watch my back in a combat situation. I still have 5 people that I would trust with my life and that I would gladly take a bullet for-no questions asked-but my definition of friendship has opened up somewhat over the years. The core definition is still the same, but I have come to realize that you don't have to be willing to die for someone in order to call them "friends".
This change in attitude is, in a very large part, due to those I have met here. Now, to be honest, I have PTSD very badly, so I have significant trust issues among other things. This means that I don't have a lot of friends, I don't make new friends often, and that I am a suspicious, paranoid fuck! Not a very good environment for friendship to grow in.
But it has! I have met people here who are literally amazing! They take the time to understand what I am going through and how I feel, they talk me through the rough spots in my life, they give me advice and information, and in general, they are just THERE for me. Me! A fucking loser nobody who has issues with their life and can't seem to get things straight. They don't care who I am or what I've done in the past. They just saw someone who needed a hand.
They have seen a person in need, and they have reached out. No questions asked.
Maybe that is the true definition of friendship-the willingness to reach out to others, despite the personal cost.
All I know is that no matter how you define it, I have friends here. People who have no problem pointing out my fuck-ups, but will then sit down and explain not only how or why I screwed the pooch, but how to avoid making the same mistake in the future. People who will laugh with me, rather than at me, when I realize I just made a big mistake, and then help me fix it. People who ask how I'm doing, just because they are truly interested.
People who are interested in me.....not toxinreleased or southernpride1865. Not some old fool who knows how to cook meth 15 different ways, not some stupid bastard who has been to prison because of it, and certainly not because I know so damn much!
I have friends here, and I am the richer man because of it. I am lucky and I am grateful that I have them in my life and I would be lessened without them.
That's what friendship means to me, anyway.