Thursday, October 17, 2013

Confessions of Friendship

I can be very clingy. It’s not something I walk around and brag about for obvious reasons. How awful would it be to say:

 “Hi!, I have 5 kids, I am very outgoing and I will cling to our friendship like a life preserver on sunken ship. What’s your name again?”

However, it is something that I most definitely recognize about myself and it is something that I try to work on, now more then ever.  I am sure people wonder why I am this way; well I really do attribute it to being an only child.  When big stuff happened as a kid I really had no one to talk to. Sure you have your parents but there are some things that I really didn’t feel comfortable talking about with them.  When I was about 13 and things were awful, I mean because hell, 13 as an age is its own problem, I found my very first best friend. 

Little did I know then that she would be by my side for 26 years. You should feel sorry for her. She had a brother but he was just too old for her to confide in so that left me. She seriously was and still is like a sister to me. We laughed together, cried together, played pranks together, and we fought together.  In the end we always know that in times of crisis we would drop everything to be with the other. It was then and still is now a very wonderful comfort.
When we moved on to high school we expanded our group to 4.  The 4 of us we were like our own little family. We all had other friends but it all began and ended with the 4 of us, I loved it and it was perfect. The support and unconditional love we shared was really one of the biggest comforts of my life. They made me look at life differently, they molded and shaped me to who I am today (see girls it IS YOUR fault :P)! This was all going along fabulously until the summer of my senior year when I moved to South Carolina. I lost my little family, I lost my friendship, I lost my sisters. Mind you it wasn’t gone, gone, but when you live 14 hours away in the days before cell phones and face time, and everyone else is still within 3 hours of one another, you miss out and you miss out on a lot.  I would say that I probably spent 10 years trying to catch up on the 3/4 years I missed with them. This was beyond stupid, you can’t go back in time and participate in the stories that they share and you cannot be part of the camaraderie that they formed. It took me years and a shove from one of my girls extremely disgruntled ex- boyfriends to finally accept that.  I did let it go after a while and it was after I did that that we were able to create a new kind of circle. We are all grown up now, all with families and jobs and responsibilities of our own.  We see each other 1 time sometimes 2 times a year if we are lucky. Because of the unique and beautiful friendship we shared then it’s really hard not to expect the same kind of friendships from other people. However, in the end though these girls are not friends, they are family, and that is how I like to view my friendships, as members of my family.  Not everyone sees it that way though, and I completely understand that! I know I have been very spoiled not only by the friendships that I have had in the past but also because I was lucky enough to marry my best friend. Even though he is an absolute gem and listens and tries so hard at the end of the day he is a dude and just doesn’t get it sometimes!
Here I am an adult it’s time to make new friends right?  Well, I don’t know about you but me, its hard, really hard. You should just be able to walk into a social situation and pop out with 3 new BFF’s right? Wrong!  Now, there is Facebook and all of those other social Medias out there that really complicate things.  Not to mention now you have men to deal with. Your girlfriend’s husbands (or s/o) have to get along with your husband (or s/o)  or you just can’t spend the time together. Oh! And don’t even get me started on the whole kid dynamic!  You have so many different factors that play into creating friendships as an adult and time is your enemy. If your family is like mine you are running kids and yourself all week, then reserve a day on the weekend for family day that leaves the one day that you should be spending with your s/o to reconnect. It can be very hard and frankly, mentally exhausting to nurture those friendships and be there for our friends when they need us the most. As women I think it is very natural to close off. Submerge ourselves in our day to day and deal with our problems as best we can, even if that means dealing with them alone. 
We need our girlfriends, it really is as simple as that. In most every book you read the friends are the people the heroine/hero lean on for life changing advice. That is not a mistake, which is what friends are there for. Sure it’s fun to party and have a good time but the measure of a good friendship is their ability to see you break into pieces even when you are trying not to let the pieces fall in front of them.   The measure of a great friendship is when they stick around and help you put those pieces back together. Somewhere along the way of women’s evolution we began to think that we were weak if we shared our issues. It has become an embarrassment for us to say to another girlfriend “I have a problem .” Follow that with “I don’t know what to do.” Suddenly we feel that we are pathetic individuals that have burdened our poor, dear friend that is solely there to give us wine and makes us laugh, right?  How could we ever do such a thing?!  WRONG!  I would be furious with a girlfriend who thought I was only there to play with her and not be there when she needed me! Yet, that is exactly what I do, that is exactly what MOST of my girlfriends do, we pine and suffer through every one of our issues big or small, alone.  What really gets me though, when I have just reached my edge and I need to talk to someone is when they look at me and empathize OR when they say “Why didn’t you tell me sooner!  I can help!” 

Ladies! We have each other there is no reason to suffer through these big bad emotions alone, and yet we do. Why? I am guilty of it, I would rather listen then share.  Is it a matter of trust, are we afraid that we may seem less of a person, or are we afraid to show anyone, even ourselves our rawest vulnerabilities? Maybe.  I am hopeful that this trend ends someday and that women can once again not see their issues as weakness.

Even though it hasn’t been easy making friends as an adult it hasn’t been impossible. I have some beautiful friendships that I adore and I still have my girls from back in the day. Yes, people come in and out of my life and it used to be really hard to let them go. I felt like I wasn’t enough for them. Now, I realize that they were just trying to deal with life on their own and sort out their own issues, much as I do. It is always really fun to reconnect with someone and it gives me such a feeling of peace.  It isn’t always easy though and I am far from perfect, I am that “clingy” friend after all. At the end of the day though I just hope that the friends I do have know that I love them like family.  If we don’t talk for months or even if they move on with their lives in a direction that doesn’t include me, I will always be there for them. This is simply because at one point they made a difference in my life and I will always be grateful for them.

Life is hard but it is also beautiful and one of the many beauties and greatest celebrations of my life are my dear friends.

Be well.