I’m not a friend. Not in the textbook sense of friendship or the practical everyday meaning of a friend. Never have been one and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be one. Some days the truth of this reality gets me down as I would like to have several Ross, Chandler, Monica, Rachael, Phoebe and Joey moments. But the older I get, the more I realize that I’m just not a friend. My husband and I do not have people over. We pretend as if no one is home for the most part. We feel as if our safe place is our house and we make sure no one invades it for an unnecessary reason. We like people but at a distance. Don’t get us wrong. We are a friendly bunch. We are very nice people. We just have a hard time maintaining friendships.
The above image really describes where I am currently in friendships. I give understanding and forgiveness but I lose contact quickly and by the time I realize it, it’s too late to salvage the relationship or the person has forgotten me altogether. Those types of “friends” that wound up forgetting me were people who thought friends were someone they held grudges against, disrespect the sanctity of shared secrets or felt that they should be treated more as fans instead of friends. I didn’t mind losing those kinds of friends. They added very little to my life anyway. However, on my side of the friendship, a problem of mine is not changing or adapting to change when they occur. My expectations for friends was about loyalty and respect. I didn’t expect to be moving all over the world (military family). I didn’t expect to be absent during both the highs and lows of someone’s life. I didn’t expect that I would need constant and consistent friends like I do.
If I had to rank my friendship level based on the above image, I’d be a good friend that’s teetering on the brink of a close friend. I care for generally everyone but I find that it’s contingent upon something. If I find a commonality (work, church, military life, fellow parent, married, favorite television show, etc.), there is more of a chance for me to befriend you and as long as we have those things in common, the relationship lasts. When those ties are severed, it seems as if I have a hard time keeping up the friendship. It seems as if I need that crutch to maintain friendships. Now, I will admit that I do have some lifelong friends. They are friends that have been there since birth with which I remain in contact. But it’s on Facebook. I rarely return home which is where the majority of them still live, whether it’s a mile or 45 minutes from their birthplace. Some of them follow our journeys, ask me questions about them and that is the first and last of our conversation on current events. Everything then shifts back to our childhood days, which is fine but can be spotty at best in either of our memories. Yet, it’s good to laugh and reminisce with a good old friend.
I think I have the hardest time with this image simply because my growth has been because of a journey without friends of my own. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is my best friend but I have no local friends aside from him. No ladies that I feel comfortable enough to initiate, create and maintain a relationship that will transcend time and location. No gentlemen that my husband would feel comfortable to allow me to chill and hang out with without his accompaniment. We are people who will do double dates but we do have a kid and are not always wanting to pay for babysitting services. Aside from that, we’re too old to accept just anyone into our lives as friends. There are activities that younger people do that just does not interest us any longer, regardless of if we’re still able to participate in them.
As I review this, it looks as if I’m making excuses as to why we’re unable to have friends and maybe they are just that – excuses. But they’re real reasons why we don’t have friends. Scratch that. They are reasons why I don’t have friends. They are reasons why I have almost resigned myself to a life of acquaintances instead of friends. I don’t want the heartache of wondering when or if the other shoe will drop and I’m once again chasing a friendship the other person does not want but they’re too afraid to say it.
I’m not sure if this image is right because I’ve learned plenty. All that I’ve learned is written above including the fact that my meaning of friendship is jaded. But I’m okay with that because it’s a starting point. A beginning to really explore what I want out of a friend and what I expect out of myself as a friend. That in and of itself may prove to be the start of a beautiful renewal of a relationship – with myself.
Until next time, evaluate your friendships and your role in them. Are they the way you’ve envisioned them? Are they what you need in your life at this point or is it all centered around the way it was? Are you happy with the current condition of the relationship? If not, why not? If so, how can you make it even better? Trust me, I’m asking the same thing about any relationships I consider friendships.