Alone Time

I said something supportive to an online friend and she sweetly replied.  Her reply really touched me.  Because that is how I perceive myself to be.  Sweet and supportive.  So why am I so lousy at friendship?  Was there a class I missed?  If I can cause a reaction like that just from writing words that I would have spoken had we been in the same room.

Or maybe I wouldn’t.  Perhaps I say the wrong things at the wrong time.  It’s got to be something I do.  The thing is, no one has ever pointed out why I make a lousy friend.  Back in school, my “friends” would occasionally ditch me.  We’d make plans for Friday, except on Friday my best friend would say she was staying home.  Then on Monday someone would let slip that the whole gang went out without me.  Why would they do that?  I guess I was the sometimes friend.  The one who filled in when no one else was around.  I guess I was pretty good at being the sometimes friend.  Maybe that’s when I failed to develop that special characteristic that others have when it comes to friendships.

I’ve blogged a little about my lack of friends, but today it really hit me.  I do try to make friends, and I think I make a fairly good first impression.  Somewhere though, things go south.  Right now I am still in touch with a woman I worked with for two years, three years ago.  We have each been to the other’s house for dinner and I think they were a great success.  I have tried to be supportive of her financial situation.  She has not worked much in the last two years and money is really tight.  We email each other, and promise to get together before summer’s end.  Is that it?  Are we dyed in the wool friends now?  I doubt I would come racing to her side in an emergency.  I believe she has much closer friends than I.

But what is the next step in friendship?  Do we just continue to try to get together, managing to see each other 6 times a year?  Mind you, we don’t live in the same city, and are about 1/2 hour away (if there is no traffic).  I think living in LA hurts your friendships because most of the people you will meet are working relationships and people leave jobs faster than they move, but they spend little time at home because they are too busy making a 3 hour commute.

I had a friend who supported me through a bad time.  Unfortunately, I talked too much about private things and when my H and I got back together, she couldn’t stand it.  She was upset with me and very angry with him.  They couldn’t be in the same room together.  I had to choose, and I chose my husband.  I emailed her just recently, apologizing for being such a rotten friend, and asking her to understand why I felt I had to choose.  She responded flatly that she hoped I was doing well.  Another one bites the dust.

My childhood best friend recently unfriended me.  I say recently, but it’s probably been 6 months. Time has a way of getting away from me.  I figure it’s because I forgot to send her a birthday card.  Again.   If she really knew me, she’d know I hadn’t sent a card on time in 30 years.  But she didn’t know, or maybe she was just hurt I forgot, again.  I felt bad about it, but at the time of her last birthday I was in the midst of a crisis and leaving my job.  She didn’t know anything about it, of course, but if we were still close, she would have.  But she didn’t know. or care enough to jot me an email to razz me about forgetting her birthday.  Just unfriended me.  Maybe she expected me to make the next move and apologize, but why, if she turned her back on me?   Am I wrong to feel hurt?  I’m willing to admit to any mistakes I made, and I figure most of the mistakes were mine.

For a number of years I went on as if I had lots of friends, when all I really had were some acquaintances I worked with and got along well with.  I just figured this is today’s friendships.  We didn’t go to lunch together.  They never invited me to Happy Hour.

Then there are my H’s friends.  I’ve known some of them now over 20 years, yet I don’t feel any one of them is my friend.  I did for a while, but realized the last time we all got together, that not one of them ever directed a question or comment to me.  I was never excluded, but I wasn’t really included either.  It could be it was because I was the only wife who attended these little gettogethers.  Individually, it seemed all of the guys really liked me.  But the last few times we had lunch I felt like a fifth wheel.  I no longer go to lunch with the boys, and no one seems to mind.

Of the last bunch of “friends” from work, only one of them makes much of an effort to stay in touch with me.  The rest of them expect me to drive three hours round trip to have lunch with them, when none but one has acted like I would expect, and at least occasionally drop me an email, or phone call.  Do I expect too much of friends today?

Again, I am left with more questions than answers.  Perhaps that’s the root of my problem.  I always need to know why.  Why do people seem to really like me, only to realize down the road that I was merely tolerated.

Are my feelers out of joint?  Do I expect too much of friends?  Is there a book out there I should read?   It’s no wonder I tend to isolate and climb inside my head.  It’s easier to be alone sometimes.

22 thoughts on “Alone Time

  1. This is a hard one. I think you’re looking to find part of yourself that is likeable to other people. The most important thing is to love yourself, because if you can’t love yourself it’s hard for other people to love you. A few years ago a friend of mine talked to me about why she hadn’t had a boyfriend for years as she had been actively looking for one and becoming depressed. My advice? Stop looking! Strangely enough met a lovely man shortly afterwards (that she has been with ever since).

    Friends will come and go. You sounds like a warm and loving person so enjoy that and forget about counting on friends – if they brush you off , think of it as their loss not yours 🙂

  2. adult relationships are so much more difficult than when we are younger. it sounds like you are just looking for friendship with those who do not know themselves how to be real friends. what kind of friend dumps you over choosing to make your marriage work? a real friend would have said i am here as your friend and support, however, i can not be friends with your man.

    most of us spend time at work and have work friends, friends we share with our partner/spouse and sometimes if we are lucky, childhood friends. think of what you enjoy doing and look for a group that is based on that interest.. it will give you an immediate bond built on something that can grow.

    introspection is great and i would encourage anyone to ask if it is really them or is it others? in this instance maybe ask if you are seeking out friendship from people who are not really capable of offering you the kind of friendship you are looking for.

    in the mean time your fellow bloggers are here, we are rooting for you and care.

  3. Some interesting points raised here.

    We do support our friends through situations like you mention with your husband, we can offer advice and a shoulder to lean on but part of being that friends is to also support your decisions even if we don’t agree with them. People must choose their own paths in life and as a friend we have to respect that, so you had nothing to apologize for to your friend, but you did explain why being a friend so personally I find it bad they didn’t respond.

    Be wary of looking at each scenario as if it could be your fault, throughout life our friendships evolve and change. So many circumstances start these changes, starting families changes people’s focus, moving away too. Many of my oldest friends have left London, some still in the UK some abroad, some I keep in touch with more than others, for that it is probably just down to Facebook, you may not get to even meet for years but just knowing what each other is up to keeps some sense of connection there.

    Which is why I think online friendships are no less valid than people you meet in person since my closest friends have moved away we have to keep our communication going through the internet, and I class people I meet blogging as friends, I certainly know more about some of them then many acquaintances in real life.

    At 36 I’ve lost count of the amount of friends who have come and gone, not because I fell out with any just because that’s the way life is, people’s paths cross and then move on again, some stick, some don’t, there is some effort involved to keep in touch but sometimes they just fade over time. Everyone is taking their own journey through life and we hitch a ride with others for a while, but it’s all part of the journey which we evolve and learn as we go along. For all the friends you lose touch with there are many more you haven’t met yet at the next stop.

    On a separate note I see your gravatar has changed to one of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, that is my favourite of his structures there, have you been?

    1. I did consider that my friend had made her own choice to discontinue her support. I suppose that’s her right. Just as I made my decision. I hold nothing against her.

      Same with my old childhood best friend. Not that we had been close for years, but her turning her back on me yet again, just hurt more than some others. She is one of the few people with whom I share a history. Losing her is like losing a link to my childhood and it has been hard to let go.

      Perhaps since I have no extended family I feel the lack more keenly? Maybe I simply expect too much of people. Regardless, I feel friends here at WordPress, and hope people would miss me if I were gone.

      You are a kind man Joe Hoover. Thanks for your encouragement.

  4. I’ve always had problems with friends also..In retrospect I think I always tried to be or act as they were….And so I never quite made it…I was afraid to be just me..the way I was…I did manage to have a few friends…later on in life that seemed to accept me for who I was but we are separated by distance don’t get to see them very much at all..We try to keep in touch by email or FB but it’s not the same as being together and sharing time and stories and laughs…So I can understand feeling somewhat a lack of ‘friendship’….Diane

    1. Maybe I just feel the lack of close friends more keenly because I have no extended family. I think the people here at WordPress are some of the best replacements!

      Thanks for your unending support, Diane.


  5. Friendships are possibly the hardest relationships to get right and find those people who will stick around no matter what, that you can pick up the phone after months of not talking and still speak as if it was only a few days ago. Strangely,or perhaps not, the only friends I have managed to keep for any length of time all have mental health problems, we’re all in different spectrums but the problems we have mean that we understand when we’re having a bad time we will become introverted and hard to contact etc.
    Your childhood ‘friends’ sound an awful lot like mine and I played up to it in my teens by being the one who would flit between groups depending on what mood I was in, how paranoid I was being and how they were treating me. It sort of worked in the last few years of high school and at least I didn’t feel like I was being abandoned by them as I could convince myself it was my choice to be like that.
    To be honest it sounds like the people who have become your friends never really understood you or accepted the fact that even friends will always have differences of opinions but need to accept and support each other in whatever the choose to do. Their loss in my opinion!

    Just a question but have you ever been diagnosed by the psych team as to what causes your depression and anxiety? It’s helped me to know what I’m fighting against even if the whole BPD thing is nasty at least I can try to get the correct help 🙂 Many (((hugs))) on their way to you and I’m so glad you get comfort from the blogosphere!

    1. Thanks for your support. I don’t understand exactly where the anxiety comes from, but mostly I just tend toward depression. I have been dx’d with clinical depression, PMD, MS and PTSD.

      I’m currently on high doses of antidepressants and my new doc is slowing lowering my dosage, and will change meds. My moods are a little rocky while we make the transition.

      I try to live in the moment and mostly I succeed, but I still have my down days, and my doubting days, and the days I’m convinced I was born at the wrong time.

      1. I know that feeling all too well I wonder quite a lot whether I should have been born sooner or if it’s just because I’m an old soul reborn :S It’s never fun while you’re swapping meds over so I’m glad you can vent a lot of the frustration and turmoil on here 🙂

      2. depression comes along with the PMD, MS, and the PTSD. glad to hear you dosage is being lowered. hope you are recieving counseling for the added support. sorry to hear that you are going through so much and glad you are reaching out to others through your blog. it is a safe way to share and get some well deserved support and care. hang in and keep writing:)

      3. My depression is probably my worst enemy. I am getting better at living in the moment, which is a big help . It only took me 35 years to figure out!

        My new psychiatrist is probably going to recommend I see a counselor, and I might be open to it. It hasn’t been all that easy making the decision to retire only to go back to work a year later.

        Thanks for helping me on my way.

  6. I’ve always had difficulty making ‘friends’ too. sometimes I think it’s because humans evolved to live in small family groups, where ‘making friends’ was a non issue. Now we’re expected to gather these networks around us of people who only have peripheral roles in our lives.

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