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I have some friends who are a breath of fresh air. Being with them feels safe. When I talk with them, I never have to worry they’ll think I’m dumb or crazy. They’re not the kind of people who would roll their eyes at what I say. They’re not watching for me to trip up and fall. I don’t have to explain or defend myself. They’re not going to take something the wrong way because they know me and my heart.

These friends are on my side.

I know I can be myself with them. My real self. I can have bad days, and they’ll empathize. I can have great days, and they’ll celebrate. They are my support system.

We are there for each other, no matter what. We are in each other’s corners. We are on each other’s sides.

Simply put, we believe the best about each other.

There are plenty of times that life beats us up. Plenty of times we have to battle for our kids, stand up for ourselves, and navigate difficult relationships, tricky work situations, and awkward family issues. I am so thankful that with these friends, I don’t have to spend one ounce of energy putting up defenses.

RELATED: A Good Friend Doesn’t Make You Question Where You Stand With Her

They’re the kind of friends who understand. They get it. They are the most gracious people I know.

They’re friends who listen well. Who don’t judge. Friends who you can ugly cry in front of and not feel any self-conscious shame. Once, one of these friends did an entire mountain of dishes in my kitchen while I sat on my couch and pumped breastmilk because she heard me talk about what a disaster my house was, knew I needed to pump that night, and wanted to bless me.

She didn’t judge my truly horrendous kitchen. She didn’t do it because she had to. She wanted to, and she was just there for me.

What love!

I can’t count the number of times my friends have listened to me blubber about some hard situation without any trace of condemnation. I can’t count the number of times my friends have checked in on me when they know I’m going through something difficult.

When I’m with these friends, I don’t have to worry my words will be twisted because they don’t see me as malicious. I don’t have to worry they’ll misunderstand because I know if they felt any concern, they’d ask for clarification. If someone cancels plans, no one feels unlikable. We don’t have to hedge all our conversations so others don’t take something the wrong way.

We believe the best about each other.

It’s easy to feel alone in this life.

It’s easy to feel like we’re the only ones who don’t know what we’re doing or the only ones struggling with a certain problem. But when I spend time with friends like these, I always feel seen. I always feel lighter. And I never feel like I have to pretend.

RELATED: Dear Friend, You Never Have to Fake It With Me

What a gift it is to walk through life with tried and true, loyal friends. I am so thankful for their beautiful presence in my life. And I am so thankful I can come to them, just as I am, and know we are always on each other’s team.

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Kim Howard

Kim Howard is a mom to three kids. She has a Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies and is a former teacher. Check out her debut picture book, Grace and Box, and learn more about her at Kim Howard Books and

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