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MAKING IT BETTER: Good Friendships: An Actual Lifeline

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Monday, March 21st, 2016

When you have friends, real friends, living or dead, it doesn’t matter where you go, you always take them with you in your heart. I don’t have a lot of friends (by choice), just a select few. I have concluded that it’s quite possible due to the nature of the work I do which requires me to be with people all the time, my spirit craves solitude and a need to pull inwards to replenish, to protect, to heal that part of me that is called upon to do the work.

This also means that the real friendships I try to cultivate have to work for me. I must be able to be myself, be authentic and I require the same from those friendships. We are accustomed to living in such an inauthentic world that we have become acclimatised to this fakery and many of us have become accustomed to it. I fight inauthenticity within myself and when I see it I reject it. It is a struggle. Good friends are solid; they literarily are your rock (after a spouse). They love you unconditionally, warts and all but they will also tell you about yourself! They come in all shapes, sizes and ages, they speak in different ways but the thread that connects them all to you and vice versa is love.

I consider my Editor, Bisi Adeleye Fayemi, the founder of this wonderful website to be an invaluable friend and sister. She is one of those friends that fall under the ‘I don’t get to see frequently’ category. I have known Bisi I’m sure for close to a couple of decades, we have worked closely together in the past. We have also had periods of several years not in touch with one another simply due to life happening for us. During these periods she has always resided in my heart and brought smiles to my face and warmth in my heart when I think of her. Furthermore when we have reunited we simply picked up from where we left off seamlessly, organically. I have one or two other friends like that, Sara Mukasa, Mary Kanu, Neneh Faye-Khan – maybe I do have more than a just a few friends! One of those friends, Tayo Agunbiade flew into London not so long ago and we got together after a few years of not having seen each other. We met in a classy restaurant on Oxford Circus. Within a couple of hours we had turned the air in the restaurant ‘blue’, with our highly risqué jokes, loud laughter and a panic to get everything in before we parted. The establishment of the eatery couldn’t decide whether they wanted to ask us to leave, or ask us to keep the noise down or simple to enjoy in our camaraderie. Luckily for us they chose the latter!

Interestingly, uncharacteristically for the stoic British persona, most of the clientele in the restaurant glanced our way and simply smiled, possibly remembering or understanding what was transpiring between these two middle aged women who clearly were giddy with each other’s company. We eventually took our loud inappropriate African selves into a make up shop nearby where we preceded to try makeup on like pubescent girls. My friend Tayo then bought similar lipsticks for both of us and off she went to the airport to return to Nigeria. Every time I take out that lippy I think of her and my heart fills with laughter again. Tayo tells me she experiences the same feelings and she sent me pictures of her wearing the lipstick.

I can remember times when I was in bits, feeling broken and it felt likes parts of me were scattered everywhere. Enter a good friend, and as a result of how they looked after me emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychologically, just by relating to me and holding me in love, those split pieces were put back together. The process could be anything from just sitting with me in that hurting space, to making me cups of tea( or something more colourful), to bringing in some decadent culinary delight, to blindly condemning a situation or person(s) absolutely that caused me distress. There are so many ways a good friend can have your back that simply gets the job done.  I remember going to visit a friend some time ago who was in the utmost distress and despair as a result of having been betrayed by some family and friends. As I sat with her holding her as she wept, I went into a tirade of condemnation and castigation of these people. I imagine I was quite animated and over the top because the next thing I knew my friend was in stitches of laughter. I asked her what was happening and she said I looked ridiculous just the way I was carrying on and it wasn’t so much what I was saying but the fact that I was committed to stand by her at that moment unconditionally , and that was what she needed.

The beauty of good friends is that you truly don’t have to see each other every day, every week or even every month. If you are fortunate to live within proximity of your friend (s) and its possible to see each other often, that’s great. However we all know that this is not necessarily a prerequisite or the definition of good friends. I’m sure we all know of women who are in and out of each other’s lives on a daily basis but have nothing but contempt, envy and distrust for each other and when they stop talking to each other, they are talking about each other!

Some of the words below are by those women I consider sister /friends, even though I have never met them. They are kindred spirits. I love women’s writings. Enjoy….

If by chance no one has told you that they love you today, I would be honoured to be the first to say, I love you today! I love you because you are and have been willing to grow. And my how you have grown! You’ve grown from struggling to searching. From trying to do to learning how to do. You’ve grown from fear to having faith, to demonstrating your courage. You have grown in many ways, consistently demonstrating your willingness and outrage to take the next steps-the step toward the profound and divine wisdom buried within yourself. The step toward knowing more about yourself. This is exactly why I love you –you are so profoundly divine. – Iyanla Vanzant

If it’s very painful to criticise your friends you’re safe in doing it, but  if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that’s the time to hold your tongue. – Alice Dier Miller

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks downOprah Winfrey

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher Oprah Winfrey

No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow – Alice Walker

Friendship isn’t about whom you’ve known the longest, it’s about who came and never left your sideAnonymous

A faithful friend is a strong defence and he that found one hath found a treasure –The Bible, Ecclesiastes 6:14

Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know that they are always there –anonymous

Sometimes in life, you find a special friend; Just by being part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can’t stop; Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there is really an unlocked door Just waiting for you to open it – Anonymous

Call a friend today, tomorrow, next week just to reaffirm your love and commitment to them. They will love you the more for it. I know I would.  To all my good friends both far and near, I love you!

Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a spiritual counsellor and an ordained Minister


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