I believe that we are all faced with certain lessons in our lives, that until they are learned from, will continue to be repeated until we finally ‘get it.’
For me, one of my biggest, repetitive hurdles was in the arena of friendships.
It is no secret that I am the shy, introverted type. So when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone- that takes up a lot of energy on my part.
I tend to keep people at arms length, but the ones I do allow in, I am trusting and loyal to a fault.
I am never the clingy, needy sort. I do not like that in others, so I try hard not to be that myself.
In elementary and junior high school, the few friendships I had were best described as illusory.
Maybe it was the age. Maybe kids that age do not have the social wherewithal to be authentic with themselves or with others. Or maybe, introverted kids do not know how to deal with the meanness they find in others and are at a loss as to how to react. Couple this with the unstable home life that I had and it is a miracle I actually made it to my adulthood. Many kids don’t.
In High school, I had a really good friend whom I admired greatly. Looking back, I can see now the patterns of my youth that created such a breeding ground for the contempt I would later feel as an adult, but life lessons don’t always present themselves wrapped up in a neat little package, tied with a bow.
I see now, that this friend I had was just as flawed as the rest of us, but she was my friend and friends over look the little, irritating things in others until they become too big to ignore. I had put this person on a pedestal and treated her like gold.
Years later, when she married, I was even in her wedding. And once the vows were said, she never spoke to me again. She cut everyone out of her life to find her happily ever after, (which I hear lasted only a couple years), but she never returned a single call, or letter, (yes, this was in the days before texting, cell phones and email) from me.
How is it that people do the things they do and not even once consider that their actions affect others as well. I am not clingy, but I do hurt.
Fast forward several years. I am now married and a mom. My husband and I are both shy, introverts. We become friends with a seemingly nice couple from church. Sounds safe enough. After all, Godly people, right?
It is our first Couple-friendship. So adult. We have so much fun hanging out. They have kids. We have one. It’s great. Then came the day Mrs. S felt she had the right to discipline my son… in front of me… by pushing him.
Yeah, that didn’t go over too well, but it doesn’t end there. The one time we spoke after said incident, she proceeded to rail at me as to what a monster my child was but she didn’t blame him, she said it was his parents that were responsible for creating such darkness. (and this was someone I thought was a friend?)
I was devastated to the core of my being by the words she hurled at me and even more upset with myself because for the first time I wondered, who are these people that I call friends. I took stock of my history in this strange battlefield and realized, I have been on the losing side for far too long.
After that, I hardened my resolve and maybe a little bit of my soul. I vowed that my circle of friends was now closed. I would only widen this circle if someone wanted to prove they were friendship worthy. (Yes, I said that). Anyone wanting to be my friend would have to have the stamina of an Olympic athlete. They would have to run faster, try harder, and prove their mettle before I would even consider letting them into my life.
I basically told the universe, Lesson Learned. Friends are overrated and I am moving on either alone or with someone that wants to be by my side.
Maybe it was the hurt talking or maybe it was my way of making a stand. My problem wasn’t that I was choosing bad people, (well, ok, the last one was bad), but the problem was that I would choose flawed people and hold them up to a standard even I couldn’t achieve and when they inevitably showed their human-ness, I would be the one hurt and disappointed.
Once I saw this aspect of myself with clarity, I knew in my heart I was ready to move on.
Since then, I am happy to report that I have lifted the ban on new friends, and have met some of the most wonderful people that have made me a better person. I don’t expect others to be something they are not, nor do I expect more out of others than they are willing or able to give.
I no longer go overboard investing my good energy in places that operate in a void. All this does is bring everybody down.
I am still cautious with who I let into my life, but I am open to the opportunity of what could be.
I do admit, there are some people I would like to get to know better and it does sting a bit when even a simple invitation to coffee is rebuffed–but I move on.
Maybe that was not meant to be.
It would be nice to have girlfriends like they show in the movies or on tv, but life doesn’t always have a Hollywood ending, and that’s okay, because life is so much bigger than that anyway.