I have just returned from an evening out with some of my closest friends. These people make up the core of my life. They have been around for a while. They are the ones who don't judge, who don't point fingers, but will definitely slap me upside the head and set me straight if needed.
If I've learned anything in the past few months as my life has been turned upside down with a divorce, depression and despair, it's who my true friends are.
Those people who see me at my worst of the worst and sit in the midst of it all and help me find myself. Those people who stand next to me and hold me while I search for my identity. Those people who walk right beside me, arms clasped, forming a human shield around me, protecting my vulnerable self from any attack that might happen while I am trying to heal.
We have lost track of what true 'friends' really are. With social media and instant access to just about anything we desire, we throw that noun around way too loosely, allowing just anyone to attain that status in our lives, when we should really be hanging onto the verb, and christening only certain people with that calling.
Friends are the ones who return phone calls, text messages and voicemails at all hours of the night. Friends are the ones who engage with you when you don't even know you need it. Friends are the ones who love you even when you can't love yourself. Friends are the ones who continually pick you up, build you up, creating you to be even better than you ever though you could.
It's a verb. An action. True friends 'do.'
They tell the truth.
Traumatic situations will separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to friendships. True friends are the ones who sit with your almost dead body around the clock, protecting you from anyone who shouldn't be there. They are the ones who come to visit you in the hospital as you are recovering from what you allowed the pain drive you to do, without passing judgment or telling you how stupid you were. They'll save that for later when you are finally released for home and they accompany you to your place and plant themselves on your couch for a while, just in case you might go stupid again. They will do whatever it takes to help you return to a 'normal' state, even if it means helping you create a new normal. They don't sugarcoat. They don't pretend. They keep it real and honest, even when it's ugly. But they love you THROUGH it. Not around it, or when it's convenient for them. True friends get right into the muck and wade neck deep right next to you, knowing that you'll both come out better for it.
True friends DO.