Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'll Have Friendship, with a Side of Thick Skin

Drama. Men hate it and women thrive on it. Okay, not ALL women, but I'd say a lot of us do. I can only guess that the reason is because we (women) are all about relationships, and that's where the drama comes in. Men think of things in terms of black-and-white. Again, not ALL MEN, but most men. If a relationship is too complicated, men tune out or say, "whatever." Women, on the other hand, consider everyone's feelings and everyone's point of view. We remember dates and names and places and things said and arguments and apologies. We even keep track of other people's relationships, lest they forget.

Some women are easy to be friends with, and some relationships are a little bit trickier. When a friend reciprocates our feelings and sentiments, the friendship flows easily. But when things are off balance, there usually ends up being hurt feelings and confusion and miscommunication. One person offends another without ever knowing it, and the other person stews in their anger without ever communicating it. An argument ensues and the friendship either fails or, if both women are committed to the relationship, they will work it out and move on.

Wait, am I still talking about two women in a friendship? It's starting to sound like a marriage. But, often times, friendship is a lot like marraige. It involves take and give; forgiveness; mutual respect; and most of all, effort.

I have a very good friend. And, in the past year, she's gone through a lot and faced more than her fair share of difficult times. More than anything, I want to be there for her. I want to be an ear to bend when she doesn't know who to turn to. I want to be a support for her when she feels like she's hit rock bottom and can't lift herself up. I want her to know how much I care about her and that no matter how bad a day turns out, no matter how much she feels like today was the worst day ever and there's no way she can go on to another day like this one, that I am still in her corner. I want her to know that I am still rooting for her, praying for her, and loving her.

But, (and yes, there's always a but) sometimes I need her too. Sometimes I want to talk to her because I've known her for so many years and she just gets me. I don't have to explain the back story to her, because she knows it. Heck, half of the time, she IS part of the back story. But there are times I need her to be my support. I need to know that she loves me. I feel so very alone sometimes and if I knew that she was rooting for me, praying for me, and loving me, it might make all the difference.

But I don't know that. Because I call her, but she rarely calls me back until I have called her 2 more times, or sent a few e-mails, or let weeks pass without ever getting a call. It is torture wanting to sort out all the craziness flying around in my head and waiting to hear back from (what feels like) the only person who will understand. I know her life is busy. I know she's got other people in her life that support her and love her too. Same goes for me - I've got a wonderful family and other close friends too. And, it's not like we talk that often anyway. And it's not like this is something new - she's always been a non-caller. So many times, I wonder if I am pestering her; I wonder if she's just being polite and restraining herself from finally coming clean with me and telling me to leave her alone. I often envision myself as being the Ralph Wiggum to her Lisa Simpson.

And this friend, well, she reads my blog. So, she might be reading it right now. When I blogged about my kids' school and I was lacking an unbiased view of the situation, she gave me her objective opinion. So, I'm hoping against hope that (if she reads this) she will take what I'm about to say with all the love from one friend to another:

Please call me back when I call you. I don't expect a call within an hour, but within a couple of days would be nice. Please don't neglect our friendship. I know we both have other friends, but after all these years we still have each other and that should say something about us. All relationships take effort: marriage, family, work, and friendships too. The effort you put into our friendship, and other relationships as well, will multiply back to you.

I feel as though I just need to get some thick skin. I'm not some hormonal weepy teenager, I'm a grown adult. If a friend simply won't call me, I should get over it, if I want to keep the friendship afloat. But, by just "getting over it", am I simply telling this friend sure, it's okay, don't call me back if you don't have time. whatever. my time isn't important. I mean, I don't want to be treated as a big pushover. But, if my friend thinks our relationship is as important as I do, won't she eventually start caring more? I have been asking myself that for over 20 years. I don't want to sound like a kicked puppy - "poor pitiful me". I don't need her to stroke my ego or tell me how great of a friend I am. I just need her to call me back. Is that really asking so much?

Do you have a friend who has always been a "non-caller"? How do you deal with it?

This post is part of MamaKat's Writers Workshop! Come read more over at Mama's Losin It.


Melissa said...

First: love the brand spankin' new site! Do you?

I am *that* friend. I don't mean to be, I try so hard not to be, but really I am. Every time I pick up the phone the kids go bat shit crazy, by the time they are in bed and it's quiet I am exhausted and I forget that I had people to call :-( I know it's such a bad excuse, especially since you have 2.5 times more kids than me, but I have just become such a non phone person. But if you send me an e-mail, I will respond that day! I can type while yelling :-)

Wendy said...

I have a friend like this. Sometimes I'm the one who is flaking, sometimes it is her. Right now she's the one flaking & I hope she's just busy, not mad at me for some reason. We've been friends since junior high, and I've known her since kindergarten. If I could only pick one friend, it would always be her. We aren't always 'best' friends - but we know all each others' secrets, and if we have something big, we can always call the other one without facing judgments. If it's been one day or one year since we last talked, it's still the same. Very unusual for women, I think.

What I'm learning to do in all my friendships except for just that one, is to keep things at enough of a distance that I can look at them rationally. Not be hurt if my walking buddy decides to walk with someone else with a better schedule. Not be offended if another friend finds she's better friends with someone else. I don't want to play those head games, and the only way I know how is to not get quite so emotionally involved in it.

In short, I'm starting to see things more like a guy. Some women think I'm prickly or standoffish. Others think I'm awesome because I just don't seem to get mad about things they thought I would get mad about. In the end I'm not so interested in what they think of me. I'm just protecting myself, and nice to everyone. Lately it has cost me a friend because I won't participate in gossip - but did I really need that friend if gossip is what would have held it together? Nope.

Jennifer said...

LOVE the new site!!!!!

I think that there is always an imbalance in a relationship, kind of like a teeter totter, sometimes you are on the up side and sometimes on the down. It sucks to be the one on the down side, but eventually it will change back up.

BlessedMomof2 said...

My bff is exactly that way. She'll go months without callnf me. I'm a SAHM & she works full time so I try to cut her some slack. She has work friends she does stuff with all the time and it's really hard for me to not be jealous (ok, impossible). I'm working on a thicker skin. You are beaver than I am to have her read this...I just simmer in my aloneness ;)

Maggie S said...

I love your new look. I have a friend just like that. She is never the one to pick up the phone, but she has always read the blog. Currently she has an excellent excuse in that she has had two babies in the last four years. She keeps their hours and I typically fall asleep around dark if we don't have an appointment to call. The appointments work okay, but her Five children have to be on board.

McVal said...

Yes I do! When she lived in town we saw each other all the time. Later it turned into mostly because she needed to borrow labels from me or she needed to borrow a few cups of dog food to tide her over... Whenever I called her, she was in a rush and couldn't talk or didn't call back. But when we did get together it was like old times when our kids were little and we really understood each other. Our families have been friends for 19 years. and she is my "back story" conspirator...
Now she lives 6 miles away. yes 6. It might as well be 600. I've long since gotten over being jealous of her other friends that she always has time for. I'll be her close friend when she needs me.
Good luck!

Gigi said...

Absolutely LOVE what you've done with the place!

Unfortunately, we've all experienced this - and we've all done it (maybe, just maybe - semi-without realizing it?!).

The fact that you were able to write this knowing she would read it - not only takes guts - but also means that you know you can trust her and the friendship is real.

Mama Kat said...

I am that friend too. I try to surround myself with people who understand me and love me despite the fact I rarely call back when I should.

I'm sure you and your friend will continue to grow together. It sounds like you have a pretty solid foundation.

Preggo said...

Uh, see . . . I'm that friend too. It's nice to know that there are alot like me out there. But not so nice to have to experience it. She'll call. Eventually. Until then, you have us. The bloggy world always answers the call!