More than any other kind of relationship, friendship is one of the most universal human experiences there is. Whether the friendship forms over shared experiences, dreams, likes, or even physical location, having a supportive witness to our joys and pains is a crucial part of our emotional and mental health. Our desire for deep, meaningful human connection if often most strongly fulfilled by our friends. Yet it doesn’t make forming, maintaining, or even ending a friendship any easier or more intuitive. We can struggle with what we should do or say to maintain a strong, healthy, compassionate connection with someone we care about. We all live in tension with the desire to be seen and accepted—with all our quirks and perceived flaws—and the fear of rejection when our whole selves become seen. The best place to start is the truth that good friendship is dependent on compassionate reciprocity of seeing and being seen.
Every time a pattern in your life changes, your friendships will change too. You’ve experienced this when you started a new job, when you moved, when your kids started playing on different sports teams, and especially when you start pursuing different goals than the goals of your friends.
Eva Hagberg spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age thirty, an undiscovered mass in her brain ruptured. So did her life.