Some Grateful Thoughts on Friendship

I've never been one for big groups of friends. I am a definite introvert (well, webtrovert really but that's a different story) and crave my own company, so without really being aware of it, I've always been quite selective about who I choose to open up to and spend time with.

I've been thinking in the last few weeks about the types of friend I have in my life. One of the lovely, and absolutely unintentional things that happens when you're honest about struggling with something is how many people rally round to prop you up. I've been feeling so lucky to know so many people who may not have any idea what this feels like, but who somehow seem to know just what to say...

There are the friends who were once colleagues and who I miss everyday. The ones I cleaned up bodily fluids with, looked out for and kept safe, argued with over the best approach to a situation, and compared bruised shins with after one of 'those' days. To quote J.K Rowling 'there are somethings in life you can't share without ending up liking each other' and it turns out working in SEN is definitely one of them. When you've wiped someone else's spit off each others faces, laughed till you've cried about how ridiculous your job is, asked 'is my forehead bleeding?' and inadvertently shown them your boobs while trying to prevent a child pulling you over by your clothes, there really is no going back.

There are the friends who were once 'best' but who, as often happens when you go on separate adult journeys, I don't see very often anymore. Every few months, or maybe even longer, we meet up for a catch up and put the world to rights over eggs benedict and tea, and at the end of the conversation she simply says 'let me know if you need anything.'

There are the friends I call family, the ones I've known since we were both babies. The ones who I forget to reply to and catch up with via our parents letting me know what they've been up to but who still know exactly what I'm thinking. The ones who pop in to see me at work, and forgo all the 'stay positive, it'll happen, at least you have an answer' conversation and just go right in with 'this is shitty isn't it, and it's bloody unfair that it's happening to you'.

There are completely unexpected friendships. One of the people I most enjoy spending time with is 13, a big fan of sausages and Mr Tumble and technically my employer. I love hearing about his day, teaching him how to buy his shopping, watching him carefully make choices and most of all hearing his jokes. He is the epitome of doing what makes you happy without giving two ticks about what anyone else thinks; whether that's echolalia re-runs of countdown, jumping, flapping and clapping as fast as you can or telling me, with half a grin and twinkle in his eye 'giraffe, hippopotamus and elephant are too big for a pet.' He has no concept of the worries of adult life, as long as there is gravy, he's happy and that's so refreshing to be around.  

There's the friend affectionately known as 'work-mum', who would be the first person I'd call on if my  actual Mum was away. The one who I have the same shared experiences with as my other colleagues but with whom I also share a love of sewing, house plants, swapping books, drinking coffee and 'putting the world to rights in a safe space' (read: bitching) Always on hand to help me out with the above friend, and he loves her just as much as I do.  

There are the friends I talk to everyday and who I tell absolutely everything to. The ones I send pictures of my dinner to, who know when all my appointments are. The ones who's conversations start with 'what's a Prince Albert?' and who I messaged within 30 seconds of flushing my moon cup down the toilet. The friends who talk so often I wake up with 85 unread messages if I have an early night, and who I can message at midnight with 'who's awake' when I'm feeling like a horrible jealous person and someone will be there to say 'I get it.' These three girls get me through my days.

There are friends I haven't known for very long in comparison to some, but who I knew immediately would be in my life forever. Who I can be completely honest with, cry in front of and tell off for not eating any lunch! The type of friend who knows the minute they look at you that you're not ok, and who will rush over to give you a hug.

There's the friend I hadn't seen for five years, but who can still effortlessly teach me things just like when we were at uni together over a decade ago. Who I can talk with all day as if we've never been apart, and who I'm still convinced lived a parallel childhood to me.

There are the friends I've met online who I've never met in real life. The ones who message after I've shared a vulnerability to say, "me too, I know just how you feel.' The internet has many flaws, and I've fallen victim to lots of them, but one of the things I have always found, particularly on instagram is how supportive the community is, and I'm still always surprised by the number of people who pop up to say, "I'm with you. I've got your back."

There's my best and oldest friend who I sometimes don't see for months or speak to for days but it just doesn't matter. Long distance friendship is a tough thing to deal with sometimes. It's rubbish when all you want is a Chinese and a chat with the person who knows you the best of all, but when you both understand that life just gets in the way sometimes, when you've both got jobs and mortgages and no money left to buy fizzy sweets, never mind train tickets or petrol, you get by with making plans and reminding the other that you love them lots.

I'm pretty lucky, don't you think, and I'm grateful for that every day.