For most of our lives, my sister and I have not been what I would call friends. We’re intermittently pleasant to each other – sometimes we get along but other times we can’t be in the same room. It’s been a big disappointment to me, because I dearly love my female friends. I have so many chosen-family sisters, why can’t I be friends with my actual sister?
A few weeks ago, I went home to Cleveland for a visit, and by my last day it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to see her. Lunches and plans had been cancelled for various reasons, and we ran out of time. I didn’t much care, but I called her on the phone to say sorry we didn’t connect. I thought it would be a two-minute call. We ended up chatting for an hour.
I flew back to LA and she called me a day later. Another hour of completely lovely chattering away about this and that, mom and dad, nothing much and everything. And I thought, oh my gosh, have I finally cracked the code on this? It’s when we see each other in person that things go south. On the phone the stakes are lower. We can be ourselves. Phone friends, just not in-person friends.
I sometimes make the mistake of measuring all my relationships with the same yardstick. There are people in my life I am absolutely head over heels about and because I can be an all-or-nothing girl, I tend to measure all other relationships against those. I should LOVE my sister like I love my best friends, and if she doesn’t love and cherish me the way they do – if she and I can’t take week-long vacations together, or share our inner-most thoughts – then we have a “bad” relationship.
But not true. The trouble, all these years, is that we never had the right relationship. I never tempered my expectations enough to land on an appropriate vibe with her.
I can say for sure that at this moment there is no one in my life who I don’t want to be there. No interlopers taking up my time; no flies in the ointment. But what I’m looking for now is the right relationship with everyone I know.
Friendship and family come in tiers: First tier reserved for soulmates and besties and second, third, fourth and beyond for everyone else, and that’s great. I don’t expect or want to be first tier to every person I know – nobody does. A finely tuned social life is a delicate dance. Regardless of the number of people close to you, we all want harmony, fun and frolic.
But I think that the trouble starts when you try to fit the right person in the wrong relationship.
I think a lot these days about being in alignment, which really just means being happy and joyously expectant of even more happiness coming around the corner. I want alignment because I believe that energy attracts like energy. I try to move through the world with a smile on my face. Having the right relationships with the people in my life feels like an exercise in alignment: Find the sweet spot inherent in each person’s energy. Zoom in on that. Stay there.
So, in search of right relationships, here’s my new credo: I won’t tell myself a big story about what a person should be doing or saying or how they should be acting. That is not my business. My business is shaping relationships that keep me in alignment, whether that means crazy in love, or just happily passing the time. Rolling on the floor laughing or pleasantly amused. Every relationship is some sort of gift. I’m going to unwrap it to see what it is before deciding what it should be.
My brother and I used to not talk very much and now he’s one of my favorite people. I text and talk to him all the time, and see him several times when I’m home. My childhood friends still play a role in my adult life, different than when we were kids, but in some ways beautifully familiar. My friendships of the last 20 or more years continue to evolve and grow, and I add new people all the time. I want the right relationship with all of these folks, so that we’re elevating each other in all our encounters, helping each other rise up to the alignment we’re all seeking, whether we know it or not.