There are not a lot of people on this planet I call friends. I can count them on two hands, actually, and I am incredibly blessed that there are so many. That might sound contradictory but it isn't. For all my blogging and 'baring', I am a very closed off person, emotionally speaking. Not when it comes to giving affection, but when it comes to receiving it. Let alone ask for it.

I know a lot of people, both in real life as on-line, and I am amicable with a lot of them; I rarely dislike someone and as a person, I am wired to help out anyone in need, no matter how distance of an aquaintance they are. Friends, however, have a special something; in general, I know friend-potential the moment hands are shook or the first words exchanged; it's an emotional familiarity that manifests itself right away in my heart. A soft spot, perhaps, or a sign that this is someone worthy enough to keep in my life (so don't screw it up).

I don't make friends easily because for someone to truly be a friend, I need to be able to open up to them about my life in the same way that I encourage them to. When I need help, they need to be the kind of people who give it. Surprisingly, this is the quality that tends to be missing in my amicable relationships, even when there is friend-potential. You see, I don't ask for help easily and I am even worse at accepting it. Emotionally, I am a very introvert person.

If you will indulge me a few more lines before I get to the point of this post, I would like to share a little bit more about myself, because I want to make clear what the words 'friend' and 'friendship' mean to me. I am the type of person who will drop everything in my life for a friend in need, who will go out of her way to make a friend feel better, even when I might not be doing so hot myself. My girlfriend has once called this my 'white-knight complex'; it boils down to feeling good when helping others.

On the flip side of my white-knight complex is that I am the type of person who handles her problems alone--which sometimes leads to disasterous results. I am the type of person who will assist in a deadly accident and then refuses to cry until home alone because she would rather be strong for others. I am the type of person who my girlfriend has learned to prod very carefully when in a fix; the type of person who responds better to silence than hugs when upset.

Before I get to the point of this post, I want to say that this has nothing to do with trust or my self-image; I trust people just fine, and I know and feel I am worth taking care of--but I don't want to impose and, as said, I feel best about myself when helping others. So if I feel comfortable and close enough to you to drop my myriad of walls, it's quite an event. There have been more people in my life whom I have felt able to open up to than friends on my list, unfortunately, mostly because very few people are willing to invest the same amount of time and availability in me as I have in them. That hurts sometimes, because when I open up, I open up completely.

Before I progressed into Hellenismos, I tended to give too much of myself with little to no emotional return. I didn't overstep my own bondaries, but it was exhausting. Hellenismos, however, has helped be funnel my 'complex' into a workable way to go through life; because no one can do everything by themselves, and I have no obligation to invest when those I give to will not give in return. It was Hesiod who said "be friendly to your friends, and go visit those who visit you" (Works and Days) This has become my motto when it comes to friendship: if I make the effort, eventually, you have to make the effort too. Human kharis.

I have found that my way of looking at friends and friendship is quite fitting for Hellenismos. If you look at the Delphic Maxims and the Tenets of Solon, it's clear that 'friendship' was a loaded word for these writers as well:

Solon wrote: "be not hasty in making friends; and do not cast off those whom you have made", and within the Delphic Maxims, you can find many examples along the same lines: help your friends (Φιλοις βοηθει), love friendship (Φιλιαν αγαπα), be kind to friends (Θιλοις ευνοει), do a favor for a friend (Φιλω χαριζου), give back what you have received (Λαβων αποδος), guard friendship (Φιλιαν φυλαττε)... Friendship is a rare and special commodity, one that comes with its own oaths, responsibilities and rewards. Once you make a friend, intend to keep them, and expect to work hard for them. That's the measure of a friend: how much you invest. In a time when your friend was also the person who went into battle with you, the person whom you had to trust to have your back when the fight was on, this was even more critical.

This post goes out to my friends--most of whom are half way around the world--some of you I have met in person, others I have merely spoken to or typed with. There are one or two amongst you with whom I have never discussed my affection for you; I don't think you know I count you as a friend. That's alright; perhaps it will happen one day. I want to thank my friends for seeing right through me and not letting me get away with hiding. I want to thank them for trusting me and letting me trust them in return. You, all ten of you, are my safe havens, the people I turn to when my head is driving me nuts, and when I can't do it alone anymore. I hope you know who you are, and what you mean to me. Because I love you, very much, and I don't tell some of you often enough.