Friendship and Frith: Love by Degrees

I have friends who are family. I have friends who have stood by when I had no money. I have friends who frantically helped me move out of the apartment of an abusive ex and who stood by me during the following harassment and stalking behavior. I have friends that I love like family and I have friends who have stood stronger than family at my side.

I love my friends.

To me, friendship is really love. I am friendly, but I don’t do casual acquaintances because of this. The feelings I have for my friends come from the same area of my soul that my feelings for my family come from and the feelings for my soul mate come from. They are all pulling love from the same, bottomless pool. And it is love. If one of my friends hurts my feelings it is the same feelings my husband can stomp on. If I lose a friend the same grief overtakes me that I have struggled through every time I break up with someone. It is real pain.

I’ve never understood people who have popcorn friends. Someone who has popcorn friends can use Set A of friends to help them move, Set B to borrow money from when they are in trouble, and only ever really hang out with or do things for Set C. They use people whenever they are bored and then toss them when they aren’t exciting anymore. They plow through people like a handful of popcorn-spitting out the hard ones and tossing the rest when they don’t taste as appealing as the first buttery mouthful. I can’t do that. I’ve never, ever been able to do that. I can’t take from someone-emotionally or in other ways-that I don’t feel I am capable of ever returning something to. I say ever because it is conceivable that I could be in a bad spot and incapable of being useful in any significant way at the present moment, but that doesn’t mean I will always be that way. I have to be able to envision a future with a person for them to be my friend and sneak under the umbrella into the people that I think about.

When I was in high school I had 2 friends. I had mountains and mountains of “people I knew”, but 2 friends. I always described those people, the casual “friends” or acquaintances, as people I knew too. I didn’t really call them my friends. And when I talk about my real friends I have the annoying habit of saying “my friend so-and-so” as if it is extremely important that everyone recognize the connection. I still do this. Now that I am older my umbrella has widened. I have more people that I genuinely care about, perhaps because I’ve become less guarded or maybe just because I’ve had more years on this planet. I’m not sure.

I never had a term for how I feel about my family of friends until someone tossed the term “frith” at me. To me frith means a person who may or may not be family for whom you would do the same things that are traditionally reserved for family. My true friends are people I have frith with. If I can’t trust someone I have trouble making them my friend because I know I will start caring for that person, whether I want to or not and whether it is healthy or not if I label them as friend. My true family consists of more family of choice than blood, so perhaps that is why? I’m not sure.

I am sure that when I read the word frith for the first time I found something that clicked in my mind and resonated with my true nature.

And woe be to someone who takes issue with those I hold frith with. I have their back and they have mine.

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