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My wake-up call on friendships

There are few things in the world that I cherish more than trusted, close friends.

We all have dozens, if not hundreds, of acquaintances, some of which we may even consider"‘friends," but the bond that exists between absolute true friends is something that is hard to come by.

I have a lot of good friends – people that I socialize with regularly, go to the beach with, those that I always keep in touch with. They are amazing people that I am glad to have as friends, but there are only about three or four people that I consider truly my most cherished friends.

These are the people with whom I share my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets. With these friends, I can call them day or night, as many times as I want, to laugh, cry, or even just talk about random nothingness. With these closest of friends, there is a true bond that makes me feel vibrant and alive, and is a huge part of who I am as a person.

Never have I thought that one of these bonds might be broken – these friendships are just so close that it is almost like we are family. Unfortunately, I made a poor decision recently that truly hurt one of the friends that I share such a close bond and trust with. While this friend and I have gotten into the occasional catty tift over the years, I have never seen this friend as angry and hurt as he was after this recent incident.

Because I care so much for my friend, just seeing him as upset as he was, was heartbreaking for me. Intensifying the pain for me is knowing - and now having to hold on to the fact - that much of the anger and hurt this friend is experiencing was caused by big, stupid me.

While the incident was fairly recent and I don’t know yet how things will progress, right now I feel empty.

After my friend revealed his (justified) anger at me, I immediately became numb with grief. When I realized that what I did was of such massive proportion that it cost our friendship, my heart sank so far into the ground, I would need to dug into the core of the Earth to get it back.

Being so close to someone for so long and then facing the possibility of that connection not being there anymore is confusing, shocking, and feels like the death of a loved one.

It is so important that we consider our actions before we take them.

So often, we let outside influences such as sexuality, alcohol, pursuit of money or material things -- or climbing real or perceived status ladders - cloud our good judgment.

In these moments of flawed thinking, we may do things for our own pleasure that are not respectful of those we love. Before making a decision, we should always at least take a deep breath, step out of the situation for a moment - and make sure what we are doing is the right thing – or be ready to accept the consequences (positive or negative).

If I was offered a million dollars or the opportunity to take back the moment in time in which I made my mistake (which would result in the restoration of my cherished friendship), I would absolutely take back the moment (of course, after following my own advice and briefly stepping out of the situation). No amount of money can replace the special bond that exists between two close friends.

This incident has really helped me take stock of what the heck I’m doing! What am I chasing after? I love and cherish the friends I have, so why do I sometimes feel this need to associate with things or people that may hurt these cherished parts of my life?

Never again will I take for granted the most important things I have in my life – my family and my cherished friends (who I consider a part of my family).

Hopefully, I will be able to regain the trust and friendship of this oh-so cherished friend that I lost. I am devastated and it is hard to think about. I do have others in my life that I can talk to and work this through with, but I want my full circle of cherished friends to be complete. Time is supposed to heal, so hopefully things will get better. In the meantime, I am keeping my head high and the smiles bright, but inside I feel lost.

Lauren Conrad, of “The Hills” fame, got it right: “I’ve realized that having a few good friends is a lot better than having a lot of fake friends.”

My few good friends mean the world to me and those are the most important relationships to take care of! Never take for granted those who are most important to us!

Ben Cartwright is SDGLN's Higher Education & Nonprofit Liaison and has been a campus and community activist in San Diego for over 10-years. His community involvement began as a student at SDSU and from there he launched into a number of other community activities. He has written for a number of local publications including Update, Hillquest, and GLT. Cartwright won the Lambda Archive's 2007 "Community Hero Award"; 2008 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Community Activist"; and a 2009 Nicky Award for "Outstanding Writer/Columnist".