Having wonderful friends who stand by you, listen to you crib about life and soothe you so that when you've calmed down, you are ready to face the music - nothing beats that, right? They are the people we can turn to when we really need to crib, get advice or just pour out whatever is bugging us. I do that all the time with my friends and they do the same with me. Still, i have to be honest, all relationships are dynamic because change happens all the time, sometimes there is little we can do to fight it.
I remember a friend, whom I became very close to on the first day we met. The next day she said, "My mother told me that I should learn to balance it out because friendships, even the best ones, change faster than the speed of lightning. It's important to keep that perspective in place."
At the time, I felt a little hurt and even wondered why her mother had conveyed such a message to her but now I think it makes sense because we can't make everything stay still. All relationships are subject to change, whether we like it or not. It's important to safeguard your privacy and personal details so that you don't make the mistake of trusting the wrong person and repenting it later.
Many years ago, my uncle told me, "Whatever you discuss with your friends, never discuss about your immediate family members with anyone. Talk about career, learning, hobbies, films, travel and books but don't talk about things that are close to your heart. If some day, your relationship with that person becomes bad, you should not have regrets about what you revealed about your loved ones."
I am not sure I agreed with him but I have seen women, once friends and later when they have issues with each other, using those very 'confidential' details to hurt the other. I do not know why women do this but it is a fact that they do. These were my exact thoughts when I read the gripping novel 'Looking Back' by Belva Plain about three best friends:
Amanda: who loves expensive things and feels ashamed of her family who struggle to make ends meet in their dilapidated home that is bursting with kids and very little space. She decides to marry Larry whom she finds it difficult to even like but the choice gives her the freedom to buy whatever she wants, without his knowledge, of course.
Norma: who is very intelligent, compassionate, judgmental and the daughter of a very rich businessman, but because of her large, trunk like abnormal legs, she is an eternal wallflower who feels insecure and has to dance with Larry, her loving brother at every social dance or event.
Cecile: who is amazing because she is classy, beautiful, simple, passionate, wealthy, sensitive, caring and kind and she finds her match in Peter, who is just so perfect for her yet very strong and independent that he would not accept her wealth or money in anyway.
Doesn't it seem like these three women will never cease to be best friends? Isn't that how we too begin our friendships? We like to believe that the friendship will be forever and that the word 'parting' never comes. Very few relationships, even the best of friendships, endure the test of time as most of us already know.
The friendship of these three amazing women comes a long way. What makes this book a must-read is the detailing in each character - the choices they make and the lives they eventually lead - are so well defined and etched out that you want to cry for them when their relationships turn so ugly, irrevocably so because it all begins with one betraying the trust of another.
A scene where Peter and Cecile have their first marital quarrel and she says that till then they had always agreed about everything, Peter asks, " Did you think we were going to go through life like a reflection of each other?..."
And then Belva Plain's narratve of Cecile's perspective is so beautifully framed:
She wanted to tell him that all of a sudden a window had opened before her, that she was looking out upon the vast plain of life, seeing the long road on which two small creatures, would travel and, bound to each other as they were, would sometimes hurt each other and be sorry.
Anita Davison, wrote a post titled 'Story Arcs in Historical Fiction' where she briefly stated that 'conflict is the essence of drama.' She also states in the post, 'Without conflict, you don't have a novel.'
When I think about the best books I've read, I agree with Anita because it is the element of conflict that forms the main ingredient in a good novel that keeps a reader glued to every page. In the same context, I think our most important relationships in life with parents, spouse, and children are tested time and again through conflicts that arise and the solutions we find to tackle those conflicts.
Think about the conflicts you've had in your relationships and how you learned better ways of tackling it. It could be with your parents, friends, employers or in-laws. I've had teachers telling me about how some parents just meet to attack and accuse them rather than listen or understand. I've seen some colleagues experiencing conflicts with each other, some choose to take the negative stance and feeling worse about themselves while others take it as a learning curve and do something about it rather than deepen the conflict. We have different ways of dealing with conflict because its the salt that keeps life moving on to higher learning curves.
If you have made terrible mistakes and messed up things to worsen your conflicts, you would have learned from that and moved on to make better, informed decisions, right? Think about conflicts in a positive way than as something you want to forget. Think about what you've learned from it. And then, perhaps, you'll realize that you've come a long, wonderful way. To begin with, just think about it.