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Go to Kitty Reflects11/5/02

I have two best friends - one is my husband and partner, Tom (Paul) and the other is a man I've known 21 years since the days when we studied engineering together - Greg. They both have many characteristics in common, otherwise I could not treasure them both so highly. I have learned from both of them much about myself as well as how to be a better friend and helpmate to each of them.

There is a line in some poem or song to the effect that "love is never having to say you're sorry". I don't agree with the inference that apologies are not necessary between those who love each other. Maintaining perfect harmony between best friends (really good ones who share innermost thoughts and feelings) is not guaranteed; misunderstandings can and do occur (mainly as Tom/Paul has stated so many times, because of the highly limited rate of information transfer relative to what is behind it in the brain). With both my best friends I have learned to patiently try again - sometimes with different words or methods (phone or even in person for Greg - who is at a considerable distance - rather than just email, in which Greg seems not to be as communicative as Paul) when it appears that we are not understanding each other. I have also learned to accept the other's attempts to reconcile even if my initial emotional reaction is that it is insufficient.

Best friends who hold the same rational fundamental values and have mutual great esteem will want only the best for each other. Each of my best friends is dear to me because we do hold these values and esteem is present. I want only the very best for them; and they each know this. In turn I know that each of them wants me to have what is in my best interest and both have told me so. Thus, the hallmark of true friendship is total trust that the other's intentions are nothing but the best. Occasionally though, a failure to communicate a concern can initiate a ripple of distrust that can easily reverberate, and sometimes even fester and enlarge for a time until its origin is revisited and clarified. This could be a result of assuming meaning to a statement without obtaining clarification. Communication requires words more than anything else, and finding the right words to convey precise meaning often requires time - and time requires patience, which I admittedly do not always have in abundance. Tom (Paul) while having considerable patience in some areas has less in others, especially when it affects me as his life partner for whom, as he describes, he wants everything to be perfect; consequently, he has often been quite animatedly distressed when it is not. However, once initial distress has passed (much less displayed now than 2 years ago), he describes his thoughts and feelings with considerable detail, providing me with the clearest picture of another person's mind that I have ever had. Greg while displaying great amounts of patience in most situations over the many years we have known each other (often more than I would expend, which has lead to its own area of discord), has periodically found himself frustrated in explaining something to me with satisfactory (for me) precision.

I've had conversations with each of them on this very subject in recent months and now each of us has a better understanding of the other's and his own thoughts and behavior; and consequently ways to improve. I've always thought that this is the greatest aspect of having best friends - not just another person with whom to engage in various activities or share time, but rather someone with whom to grow and develop - to work towards being one's best. My two best friends are this with me and I aim always to be the same for each of them.


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