June 27, 2009
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friendship.
Depending on where we are in our lives, friendship takes on different meanings. When we’re 5, it’s pretty much whoever lets us play with their toys or whoever likes the same cartoon character that we do. As we grow older, the requirements for being friends with someone become a little less tangible- sometimes we just click with a person, and there’s not really an explanation. Usually there is a common ground that brings us together- a job, a mutual friend, going to the same college- but if you asked me why I am friends with the people I call my friends, I’d have to think about that.
And that’s what’s been on my mind.
I have a lot of people who I’d call Friends. I’m pretty social and (I like to think) I’m fairly easy going and likable. And of course the internet makes it really easy to keep in touch with people and thus feel like us have a lot more friends than we probably do (all you have to do on Facebook is click a button and HI! INSTANT FRIEND!) But in all honesty, as far as Best Friends or even just Close Friends, for me, those numbers are low.
Dan is my best friend. He has been since we were 17. It’s easy being his best friend, for reasons I’m not sure we could pinpoint specifically- it just is. He’s the only person on the planet who I really feel 100% comfortable with, even when I was all fat and pregnant and pushing a human out of my Lady Parts. I was totally fine with him watching that, and he was too. If that ain’t friendship, I don’t know what is. ha
But Girl Friendships are different. I have never had more than couple of Really Close Girl Friends. Because of that, I try to really make an effort to keep those friendships going, which of course gets harder as we all get older. We all have kids and husbands and jobs and people move far away and just Life In General, really. So in order for it to work, both people have to make an equal effort.
And recently I have been coming to terms with the fact that sometimes all of these things in life? These changes and distractions and Big Life Decisions? Can get in the way of a friendship continuing. They can actually force us to grow apart from one another, even when we’re trying desperately to ignore the fact. Two friends- who have been friends FOREVER- who seem on the surface to have a lot in common, might really be in two totally different places and have become two entirely different people than they once were. And it’s nobody’s fault, really… it just is.
Friendships with girls are tricky at times, because of the J word: jealousy. And the C word: competition. In my experience, girls are jealous by nature & can be a bajillion times more competitive than boys. We just are, because we suck. ha. I know I can be that way- envious of her beautiful hair, or jealous of her ability to manage 4 kids, or wishing I had her discipline to stay in such awesome physical shape, sometimes wanting to do better and have better than her. It happens to all of us. But the hard part, the sad part, is when that jealousy is between friends, and it grows and festers and eventually becomes an unspoken elephant in the room, and the Jealous Friend turns the other friend into the Feeling Guilty Friend. And then the Feeling Guilty friend becomes defensive because she feels attacked over things she can’t really control. And then… goodbye friendship.
Nobody likes walking on eggshells around a friend. You shouldn’t HAVE to walk on eggshells around a friend. Right?
At a certain point, is it even worth trying to repair the damage from years of the Jealousy-Guilt Cycle? And aside from being worth it- is it even possible to heal a friendship after all of that? It can start to make you crazy, questioning everything- why were you ever friends in the first place? And if this friendship is doomed, are you truly friends with the other people you consider your friends? Maybe YOU’RE the one with the problem. Maybe it’s ALL YOUR FAULT and you can’t even see it.
I’m not even sure where I’m going with this, I just really needed a brain dump today. In addition to everything else that’s been going on the past few weeks, this has been on my mind and I needed to get it out. And possibly ask for advice. I know I’m being very vague and non-specific.
I guess my real question is, if you have ever been the Feeling Guilty friend, what did you do? And have you ever been the Jealous Friend? How did it all turn out?