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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Friendship

I don't have many friends. I rather like it this way. I had friends as a kid, as a teen, and in my careers, but now, as a mom who works from home and has only one car that goes to work with her husband, I don't have many friends.

I have friends from my past with whom I keep in touch. I have friends I've never met, though, I try to keep those to a minimum. I have a couple family members who also fall into the "friend" category. They all have their own special place in my heart, but they're not like friendships of old - they're not the best friend in high school who knows all about my past, has seen it first-hand; they're not the friend with whom I can be my worst and they'll either grant me a by or side-eye me and tell me to get over myself; they're not the friend who will help me do dishes or come over to help me paint without the promise of pizza. No, I don't have any of those friends anymore and I've been reflecting on why that is.

I struggle with being/remaining friends with those who cannot be open and honest. I struggle to form a bond with those who won't allow themselves to be vulnerable. I struggle to feel close to those who talk about nothing but that which is on the surface, only relate by joking, and constantly feel the need to put on a happy face.

Perhaps conversely, I also struggle with those who are high-maintenance, needy, in constant need of reassurance due to their ever-increasing list of insecurities, or spend more time throwing themselves pity-parties than making the changes over which they have control.

No, this doesn't mean I struggle with those who occasionally struggle with these issues or find themselves with any faults at all. Of course it doesn't mean that. These are just the chronic issues with which I have issues.

A family member of mine once taught a lesson in her Sunday School class in which she talked about a friend of hers who always put on a happy face. Every day, she walked by her friend and asked how he was, to which he replied with a smile and a "I'm great!" This happened every day without fail. One day, though, she walked by her friend and asked how he was, to which he replied with a smile that he was having an awful day, because hid car had been broken into. Her lesson to us was that we should all just "put on a happy face." You have NO idea how long that drivel stuck with me and how many years of therapy it took me to realize it was, indeed, drivel.

I have a friend whose sister considers her her best friend. My friend cannot understand this at all, as she has never felt particularly close to her sister. Her sister is closed off and dishonest about who she is and what she feels - even to the point of being dishonest with herself. My friend wonders how she is supposed to feel close to a person like that. When confronted with the fact that my friend doesn't feel close to her, has never felt close to her, the sister was in a state of complete bafflement. How utterly frustrating for both of them.

I screw around. I joke. I play. And want that in my friends, too. I also have real feelings about real issues and I need my friends to allow that in me and express that with me, as well.

At a certain point, I let go. When it becomes crystalline that the friendships I once had are no longer two-sided, honest, and true, I let go. It generally takes me a while to get to that point, but once I'm there, I'm fairly firmly there. A couple times when I've let go, the friend of whom I let go was seemingly torn up. That has caused me to ponder what makes a friend a friend to others. Obviously, what I saw as surface-level was more than enough for them, was what they wanted and needed. I wonder why. I wonder what that must feel like to have to stuff their feelings, never let anyone see the real them, even with the people they consider friends. I imagine that must feel lonely and unfulfilling, but, then, I can't ever know, because that kind of conversation isn't allowed in those types of relationships.

I also imagine that the things I struggle with also make others struggle to be friends with me.

And so I write. I have no greater message here. I have no answers. I don't know that I even have a point. It's more like verbal vomit, er, in written form.

What makes a good friendship in your opinion?


  1. Vulnerability is definitely what makes or breaks a relationship for me. I mean, I have good, bad, and ugly. Most see the good. Some see the bad. But only the closest of close see my ugly. It's them loving me anyway and in turn saying, "It's okay. I have some ugly too, see? that makes me fall in love with an individual. I can't stay emotionally vested in relationships where the other person doesn't share their soul the same way I do. I'm just that kind of person. I feel, I dunno, slighted and naked when I allow myself to be transparent with a person who doesn't reciprocate. That's when I begin to pull away.

    I don't have many friends either. I believe I have exactly one true friend. Even my spouse doesn't understand me as well as she does. It's quite funny actually, because they are so much alike!

  2. Yes, it's being whole humans with one another that creates a bond. I can't bond with automatons.