It is with unfailing humility that I write this entry because after all of the self-centeredness and self-indulgence that I have allowed to happen over the past few months, and after I have washed off all the mud and finally peeked out from under the covers, those true, unfaltering friends are still there.
They are like a family, really. A family that knows you perhaps better than your own. They can see your facial expressions and hear your voice through your e-mails and your text messages, even when you insist that everything is OK.
They understand why a "little" thing is actually a "big" thing. They know exactly why you are happy, why you are sad, why you love someone and why you hate the next. They will tell you what you need to hear, because whether you want it from them or not, it's for your own good. They join your hurts by not holding back their own tears and they share in your joys by laughing right along with you.
They are there with their confidence in you, with their trust in you as a strong, intelligent woman, with their unwavering (even if undeserved) faith in the quality of your character and your heart, with their no-holds-barred, devil's advocate questions and with their sound, thought-out advice, given freely and without pretense, that can only come from true experience...
What I have discovered in real friends is their instinct to first protect you - your feelings, your pride, your reputation, your sanity – to shield you with all the weapons in their arsenals…and then find it in their love for you and in their belief in you as a person to let you make your own decisions, whether they are for the better or for the worse.
If it's the former, they are your cheerleaders and your platform on which to scream your victory. If it's the latter, well, they are the hands that pick you up off the floor, take that drink out of your hand, hold you steady and bring you back.
To be blessed with friends like these is to have experienced one of the reasons why life is worth living. I only wish that it wouldn't have taken me so long to figure that out.