friend /frǝnd/ n. & a. [OE frēond = OFris., OS friund (DU. vriend), OHG friunt (G Freund), ON frændi, Goth. frijonds, f. Gmc pres. pple of vb = 'to love', f. base of FREE a.] A n.
1 A person joined by affection and intimacy to another, independantly of sexual or family love. OE. 2 A near relation. Usu. in pl., those responsible for one. OE. 3 A person who is not hostile or an enemy to another; one who is on the same side. OE. 4 A person who wishes another, a cause, etc., well; a sympathiser, helper, patron, (of, to); (usu. in pl.) a supporter of an institution etc., who regularly contribute money or other help. ME. b A helpful thing. LME. c A person who acts for another, esp. (Hist.) as a second in a duel. E19. 5 An acquaintance, an associate; a stranger whom one comes across or has occasion to mention again. Freq. as voc. as a polite form of irony, and (Hist.) used by members of the Society of Friends as the ordinary form of address.
I've always felt I've had trouble forming friendships. I often joke that my own friends like my wife more than me. But if I apply the definition of friend I realise I have an abundance of meaningful friendship in my life. I have my old friends who know me better than anyone else apart from my close family and my aforementioned wonderful wife; the friends who have seen me at my worst and my best and stick in this life with me through thick and thin. These are the friends whom I know are there despite the tyranny of distance or lack of contact.
Becoming sober has come to represent me being the best friend I can be to myself. I feel like I'm giving myself the most indescribably beautiful gift. I'm wishing myself well, I'm finally on my own side. My own ultimate ally. I'm finally able to give something of my true self to others, to support them, to feel like I'm worthy of giving and receiving that support.
When I joined Living Sober six months ago I felt vulnerable and disconnected in terms of quitting booze, but now I don't know what I'd do without the friendship, support and sense of kinship I've gained. In 99% of the cases I'm connected to people I've never met (the fabulous Prudence and Mrs D the only exceptions). Our identities are largely hidden. It's an online connection but the unconditional love and camaraderie is powerfully real; blind to gender, wealth, politics and age. We wish each other well. We listen to each other's problems. We celebrate the triumphs and successes; cheering each other on in our endeavours and sobriety.
Since interviewing Living Sober member Prudence for an article, I've been helping her with a photography project. We meet weekly to go through it. She's become a friend. Without Living Sober and the article would I have ever crossed paths with Prudence let alone become a mate? It's unlikely.
When my UK-based blogging buddy, who goes by the name of MIT (Make It Tea), told me reading this blog had given him the nudge to give up alcohol for a year and blog about it, I marvelled at how my words had reached so far across the globe and had an effect on someone else's life for the better. In reading his excellent blog I find we share much in terms of our outlook on life and how we're going about this alcohol free adventure. What's a friend? Well I regard MIT (and everyone I've met through my sober journey) to be firm friends.
This morning I read this comment on my previous blog from an anonymous woman in the US, and my heart felt like it was going to explode:
I have been enjoying your blog very much. Thank you for sharing.
I've been a heavy drinker for 30 years...now over 100 Days sober and I am discovering what you are saying... and it feels good. This is an absolute miracle. (49 year old female in the States). Never thought I could do this...life is so much better. Please do keep us posted. Thanks again.
I feel like I've never had so many friends in my life.
A miracle indeed.