Because both my brother and sister (I have one, each) could see when we were growing up and I could not, they dealt with our father's rage in different ways than I. I experienced it as a constant threat -totally random; you never knew when it would strike. Because of this, I spent many childhood years living in constant fear instead of growing up.
There. Doesn't that sound like an excellent excuse? I've blamed someone else for all of my own troubles in a way that completely obviates me from responsibility for my own behaviors. Clever, eh? :o)
Oh, anyway... the point is that I didn't start learning about my own feelings until I was 16 or 17 years old. This was the first time I met people who I knew liked me and not my father's son. These were my first friends. I feel that they saved my life. I will always remember them.
Because the world is so big and we have opportunities to make friends with many more people than each of us ever has time to know, we must decide upon whom to spend our attention. When I was young, I was a bigot for intellegence. When I was a bit older, I learned that what is really important to me is a pure and accessible heart and the wisdom required for emotional reponsibility. A willing hand helps a lot, too.
Because my friends helped me so much when I needed it, my bounderies for how much I help them are a bit more generous than those of many people. Sometimes, perhaps, too much, but we each have faults.
I would prefer -as no dought many of us would- to give all of my attention to one very special friend and lover (wife?), but so far, I have not found such a person, although several have come very close.
It's a matter of priorities.
I know many people who use the concepts of "Friend" and "Acquaintance" interchangeably. I try not to do this. My friends are my family. I love them. When I say that, I mean that not only will I be there for them emotionally, physically, financially, etc., when it suites me, but also when it is difuclt. Especially when it is dificult.
To me, that is how you can tell who your true friends are. They are the ones who will be there for you even when it is a great hardship for them. They may grumble, but the important thing is that we support each other when we each need it most. When times are not dificult, there is no way to tell who your friends really are.
And speaking of true friends, here are a couple:
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