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I don’t have a lot of them.

Well that’s not entirely true. I have a lot of friends who are more like acquaintances. You know, people that you say hi to and are a friendly face. Ones when they ask how things are going you say fine. That’s how deep the relationship goes. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just how those particular encounters go.

When I say friends I mean close, personal friends who I can trust and confide in. When they ask how things are going you tell them more than just a simple fine. You can talk about your feelings and the things you are going through.

I have found those friendships difficult to come by. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe some of the acquaintance friendships could be more if I just felt comfortable opening up and talking.

A close friend – you know – the type of friend I am comfortable opening up to recently said, ‘you know people like you right?’

I appreciated the kind words but for some reason I find it difficult to accept. I don’t know why. I want close friend but the introvert in me screams don’t put yourself out there. No one will like you.

So the close friends that I do have are very important to me. I may not talk to them every day but they mean the world to me.

Maybe that’s why I’ve had such a strong emotional reaction to a close friend who recently moved out of state. He was the kind of friend that I felt comfortable opening up to and have known since elementary school. We would have dinners together, go out for the occasional coffee and would be a part of special occasions. When I found out that he had moved to Florida it was a punch to the gut. You know the kind where you’ve lost your breath and it’s extremely difficult to regain.

His friendship is one that I took for granted. I kind of figured he would always be in the area and during the pandemic I pushed that friendship aside. I now have feelings of regret and angst. I don’t know how to rid myself of those feelings. I’ve called and talked to him and plan to continue to talk to him on the phone but it’s not the same as seeing a friend face-to-face.

During a recent Christmas gathering I talked to a friend who has similar introvert tendencies as I. We both kind of fear talking in front of groups, we aren’t ecstatic about the thought of social get togethers until we’re in the middle of them and think…hey, this isn’t so bad after all.

He knows that I write occasionally and has kind of pushed me to get back into it. A lot of times when we talk he’s asked if I’ve written anything new. My answer is typically no. I don’t have the time or I don’t know what to write. Basically I overthink my writing and tend to keep them in a draft and later delete it. Instead of deleting, I just need to click post.

This reminded me of how Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls 1990’s dynasty revealed how he decided to run his final team meeting with the group that won six championships.

Jackson asked players to write down what the team means to them and bring it to the final meeting of the team after they won a sixth championship. After each player read their statement, it was placed into a coffee can and was burned.

Jackson credited the idea to his wife, who was a social worker.

“She was part of a group that went into to help people that were grieving. One of the things they did was a ritual in which they kind of put things to rest,” said Jackson.

Writing has always been cathartic and maybe it will help to get the feelings and emotions out and lead to healthier friendships.