Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Our Need For Friendship

It is not good for man to be alone.  -God

Some years back, a man whom I had known for a long time was describing me to some new acquaintances of ours. It was all very positive and complimentary, but with one small problem: he wasn’t describing me. In fact, the more he waxed eloquent about the attributes, gifting, and talents, of Monte Wilson, the more invisible I felt. All I could do was sit there thinking, “You really don’t know me.”

A friend responds to me the same way I would if I were seeing and sensing myself through the mind of my friend. In other words, he acts as a mirror that reflects the image of how I see and experience myself. He sees what I know to be true of myself, both good and not so good, senses how I experience life.  In other words, true friends are psychologically visible to each other.

Of course, friends also help us discover the, heretofore, unseen aspects of our self. You’ve had this happen before, when a friend complimented or criticized you about something and you instantly intuited that, yes, “That’s me!”

Certainly, the mere fact that we are (relatively) visible to someone doesn’t mean that we are going to be good friends. However, there can be no true emotional connection and companionship where there is little or no visibility. How can you say," I love you," if you are blind to my “you”? Am I really going to believe someone loves me who doesn’t Get Me, get who I am (“warts and all”)?

In our quest for realizing our true self and what we were placed here on earth to do, we know by intuition and experience that such cannot be accomplished alone, that autonomy and isolation is the path to disintegration, not wholeness. It’s not just visibility that we desire. We also have an innate need to love and to be loved. While there are many reason why this is so, two jump out at me:

External validation and affirmation “You really are you!” However self-aware I am, however brutally honest with myself that I seek to be about the nature of my true self, I need feedback as to the veracity of my self-evaluation. Caveat: I am not referring to a craving for the approval of others, as if I were asking permission to be myself. I am referring to the acknowledgment that my evaluation of my self is, indeed, accurate.

Mutual support I know that I need the love, gifts, and wisdom, of others to make my journey in this life, just as others need mine. I instinctually know that it is neither healthy nor wise to be “alone.”  Think back to the stories many of us grew up reading: Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, Frodo and Samwise, The Three Musketeers, Harry with Ron and Hermione, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, King David and his Mighty Men, and Jesus and the Twelve. One of the things that draw us to such stories is that we too long for a Band of Brothers.

Being alone is not good for us. We know this. So, what are we actively doing to seek out or maintain the health of our present relationships? What are we doing about discovering who our Band of Brothers is: those men and women with whom we make ourselves visible and available, and to whom we offer our love and support, in their quests? What steps are we taking to develop meaningful relationships?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

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