Friendships are central to a strong life. Our friends can be our backbone when we are weak, our brains when we are confused, our hearts when we are stricken with grief. They are a treasure, and they are hard to find.

In Dear Heart Come Home, A Path of Midlife Spirituality, Joyce Rupp writes about our middle years as being times of change and growth, much like adolescence, when we begin to question ourselves, where we are going with our lives, and wonder how to be the best us we can be. About her own life, she says:

I’ve searched for a link in my relationship with others and wondered who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with in friendship….

In midlife, she says, we can ask questions we might not have thought of before, we are intentional about our lives in a way that was not possible when we were building our careers and families. And we can wonder if the friends who surround us are the ones we need.

Several years ago, I realized I had two friendships that were toxic. These women, on final assessment, neither wanted to know who I was beneath the surface s nor appreciated what little they did know about the self that mattered to me. I made a conscious decision to break off these relationships. It was actually sadly easy. I simply stopped calling them and they did not call me. And that was that. I guess the ease with which those ties were broken demonstrate that they were extremely weak and reinforced my decision to move on.

I had other excellent friendships that were important to me, so I enjoyed and maintained those. And I had colleagues to supplement these relationships.

Lately, though, I have realized there are women I want to know better and I have made a conscious effort to build new friendships. One, with a woman at church who is wise and funny and good. Another, with a woman I have known for more than 30 years but who I am finally getting to know better, a fellow cancer survivor and writer. Another is a woman who belongs to my dinner group and who loves the outdoors like I do, who I have also known for decades but only peripherally.

I love that I am learning about these women’s lives, and I am sharing myself with them. The me that I am at this moment is thriving with these new anchors in my life. And it has been surprisingly easy. I email, they answer right away, we do lunch, we talk, we laugh, we commiserate, we eat.

These new friends nourish my spirit. Maybe we’ll never be best friends. Or maybe we will be, but I don’t spend my time worrying about where we are going. One thing I know now is that the present is a time to celebrate. So, I quietly throw some mental confetti in honor of these new friends. And pop a bottle of virtual champagne in a toast to women everywhere who help one another walk down our roads of change.

And I look forward to growing in friendship.

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