FRIENDS 4 FAMILY.

We were sat on a beautiful big balcony, overlooking the sea but I sat there looking down forlornly at the bubbles in my sparkling water. “Is this rock bottom?” I mumbled quietly to my friend.

“I think so…”’ she replied, “But do you know what happens when you reach rock bottom, Pam?”

I continued to focus on the bubbles in the glass in a bid to stop the tears that were threatening to burst their banks at any given moment. I shook my head.

“The only way left to go is, up.” 

Thank God for friends. If friends are the family we choose for ourselves, then my God, was I blessed with a good bunch. 

It’s not like I never appreciated my friends before. I always have, but these past couple of weeks I have never been more grateful for that little family that I chose for myself. There’s so much focus on romance based love and how we function within ‘romantic’ relationships – one glance in a book shop is enough to see just how many people are desperate to know the secret, with endless titles such as ‘Why Men Love Bitches’ and ’Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’ – but somewhere in amongst all that, we’ve glossed over our other great loves – some of them spanning as far back as childhood and reaching til’ retirement and beyond; our friendships!

When the phone didn’t stop ringing, I finally answered. “Sup girl. What you doing?” I looked around the dark room, the uneaten toast beside me and to the left, a mountain of discarded tissues on the floor. Nothing. I was doing absolutely nothing and I didn’t want to do anything. 

I told my friend as much, followed by a brief outline of my past week, but he wasn’t taking no for an answer. “Let’s meet out front in one hour, I’ll take you to a cute cafe.” I warned him, I’m not gonna be much company. “That’s okay. Go get ready.” 

We hadn’t even made it to downtown yet, and I was already sobbing in the car. Oddly enough, it was raining in Dubai that day, and he joked that the sky was crying with me, too. That’s the great thing about friends. They know what you need sometimes, when you don’t even know, yourself. Fast forward a few hours later, we’d ticked off all of my best things, including açai, sniffing (and buying) candles, and a shopping trip to Zara and, despite my friends apathetic view of shopping, his enthusiasm for the Zara’s womenswear section that day was as unusual and unwavering as Dubai’s heavy rain.

My other friend, wasn’t taking no for an answer either when she later called me up pencilling herself into the gaps in my diary. “I’m taking you to workout with me this week.” She told me (and when my friend tells you something, she is not one to be argued with). “I’m going to show you what my personal trainer showed me, so that you’ll have a bit more confidence in the gym. And then, why don’t you come to mine for dinner? I’ll make chilli.” 

Unfortunately, my other friend had already booked me for dinner that night already, insisting that I had to come round, and of course, when I turned up, she had my favourite drinks in the fridge and dinner already en-route. 

Deciding I needed a change of scenery, a week at home spent with my best friend cleared out the mental cobwebs on a whole other level. Not only had she stocked up on my favourites things ever without even having to ask (like M&S cookies and Diet7Up!), but she made us a cosy fortress on the couch with blankets and hot water bottles and a cat pal, with a back to back marathon of Queer Eye. I had my own room, my own pjs and she made me the cutest little book ever. Our friendship is so solid, that we can sit on the sofa in silence watching TV, or talk endlessly for hours depending on whatever mood we are in that day, and both are fine either way. 

These are just some of the lovely things that my friends have done for me in the past few weeks alone; and that’s not discounting all the other random of acts of kindness that my other friends have done, (like leaving cards with sentimental messages in my mailbox, sending me motivational voice messages, or leaving me coconut chia pudding in the fridge for breakfast, or sending me thankful lists and book suggestions), but the point is, sometimes we get so focused on finding ‘a boyfriend’ or ‘The One’ that we overlook all the loves that we are already surrounded by. All the while, we might be wondering, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ particularly after what feels like hitting another dead end in the pursuit of love, but despite the fact that I have some things in my personality to work on, there’s really nothing much wrong with me at all. 

“Jonathan Van Ness believes in you, and I do too! I’m flying the flag for you ’til you can do it for yourself!’ My bestie wrote to me. 

Meeting an old friend of mine earlier today, I filled in the gaps of my time out of social media. (I took a much needed six week break from IG and it’s affiliates).

“There never was anything wrong with you, Pam. That scatty, funny, happy girl I met at the races is the girl who we all love. We wouldn’t have you any other way! You never needed a six pack, you never needed anything else than what you have. You are perfect the way you are… You just couldn’t see it for yourself.” 

If I’ve learned anything in these past few weeks, it’s that if I could love and believe in myself even just a fraction of the way my friends and family love and believe in me, then that would be enough to get me through the rest of life looking like that smiley emoji that’s surrounded by hearts. 

I don’t love my friends based on the way the look or for their materialistic belongings – not at all! I love them for their humour, their kindness, their quirks, their flaws, their style; I love them as a whole package! I love them on their good days, and I still love them on their bad days, and if I can love my friends at their worst, then people can love me when I am not my best too. It’s all about surrounding ourselves with people who help us to accept our flaws, but who still give us the encouragement we need to grow in our efforts to become make the best version of ourselves by helping us reach our maximum potential.

A month ago I told my mum angrily through tears, that love doesn’t exist, that you can’t rely on anyone, even if they say you can. In hindsight, that was just something said in the heat of the moment stemming from some unresolved feelings. It was nonsense.

Love does exist and so do soulmates, but maybe it’s our ideals of relationships that need work. Vanessa Kirby (aka Margaret from The Crown) said on the topic of friendship, “Put more romance into your friendships, and more friendship into your romance.” I always remember that episode of SATC when Carrie Bradshaw suggested that maybe our soul mates are really our best friends; the ones that are really in it for the long haul, and the guys?  Well, as Carrie herself said, “And then we can let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with.” 

Maybe if we meet all relationships somewhere in the middle of love and friendship, accepting that all loves are different, we can have the best of both worlds, but only after we love ourselves first. And if all your friends can love you on your worst days, you can definitely love yourself on your worst days too. 

’Til then, your friends (and me) will fly the flag for you.

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PS. If you need some ideas or stories about friendships and love, then here’s some motivational lovey-dovey friend stuff:

  • Read Dolly Alderton’s “Everything I Know About Love
  • Watch the movie; ‘Beaches’ but be warned – you’ll need tissues
  • Go to VOX Cinemas ladies night with some of your girlfriends (no men in sight)
  • Watch “Queer Eye” on Netflix – the ultimate feel good show!
  • Listen to some songs about friendships on Spotify here
  • Write a post card or send your bestie some flowers to show they matter to you
  • Arrange face to face catchups with your friends rather than spending time on social media
  • You can also watch ‘Bridesmaids‘ if Beaches is too emotional for you!

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