Thursday, January 27, 2011

39, but I feel like I'm 9

MamaKat's Writers Workshop again. This time I picked the following writing prompt:
4.) Read the quote and let it inspire your post: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. -Maya Angelou

Okay, I'm probably not going to take the slant on this that MamaKat was expecting or even intending, but here is how that quote hit me:

I have had three separate friends in my life. These three friends - Laurie, Katie, and Andrea (pseudonyms)- meant so much to me at the times I was friends with them. These three women come from different circles of my life; one is a childhood friend, one is a high school friend, and one is someone I met after I'd gotten married. Each of them filled that part of my heart that longed for friendship, and they did it in their own unique ways. They were inspiring, entertaining, humbling, encouraging, and just plain fun.

And each one of them blew me off after years of us being "best friends".

I heard the same story from each of them: "Oh, I am such a bad friend. I need to call you more. I'm so sorry!" or "I am just so busy. I am really bad at keeping in touch with people." And, of course, "Gretchen, you are one of my best friends. Every time we talk I feel like we're just as close as ever."

But, here's the rub: it's all lip service. They have long since forgotten my birthday. They don't call me to talk. They don't celebrate my accomplishments or console me on my failures. They just.... don't.

I only sorta remember all the nice things they said for me or did for me. But I completely remember how they made me feel.

I know people will tell me that they have their own lives and that family is more important that friends. That is very true. But I know myself, and I know that my friendships are just as important as family. I don't have a ton of close friends, but the ones I do are like sisters. When I find a true friend, I keep their confidences and I trust them with mine. True friends are bold enough to tell me what I need to hear, even if I don't want to. They even know it doesn't matter if it's 2pm or 2am, if it's serious they can call me and I will be there.

But these three - Laurie, Katie, and Andrea - they make me feel like an intruder in their lives for simply wanting them to actually act like the friend they claim to be. Of course, I've never come out and said, "Look, you make me feel like crap when I invest my time and feelings in our friendship and you never return it." I've wanted to, but I've not done it. I really want to tell them, "Friendships are like marriage. They require work and shouldn't be taken for granted. If you do, don't be surprised when you don't have anyone to call on a Friday night to go to a chick flick with you."

As an adult, I know that friendships wax and wane, and that I should probably just grow up and get over it. My husband and my children are my priorities and if they were all I had, then they would be enough. But I've experienced the sweet reward of having a good friend, and I am sad that these three women are missing out on me as a friend.

Because I rock as a BFF. I'm just sayin'.

(And, for what it's worth, I have found a very true friend, JONI - not a pseudonym - who has never once let the distance between us minimize our close bond. She's a keeper!)

Texan Mama


RottenMom said...

This is so well written and hits close to home for me. I recently did a "weeding out" of two lip service friends in my life. Only I actually told them why. It was very difficult to do but I was only hurting myself by hanging on to these relationships.

I bet you do rock as a BFF!

Michelle Saunderson said...

I have very few close friends because of this reason. I really need to get out and make some more friends.

Kathleen Brown said...

I don't have any close friends outside of family members. My sis is my closet. I can always count on her when I need help and she's always open and honest.

Crystal said...

THis feels almost personal to me...because, well, I have experienced it, too. I have had friends in the past...but for some reason or another, I must not be a "keeper". I am lonely a lot. I would love to have a girlfriend to go shopping with or see a movie or just talk on the phone or share a cup of coffee. But I don't really have any close girlfriends. It's me, my super busy hubby who is leaving on deployment, and my 4 kids. I get lonely...sorry to pout. It just hit close to home.

Jennifer said...

I think certain types of friendships have life cycles. Like they are really powerful for awhile and you can't imagine ever not being friends, but then something changes (life) and the bond, the thing that brought you together or kept you close, changes and therefore the friendship changes.

I've always been one of those people that let go easily (a skill I learned early in life) so I'm probably more of the friend that just drifts away than the one that stays. I don't mean anything by it and I don't necessarily want to be that way, but I can't really change myself either.

Gigi said...

I think we can all relate to this post! Sometimes I've been the drifter and sometimes I've been the driftee. Now I cherish my friendships as much as my family and try hard not to be the drifter.

Frogs in my formula said...

I bet you're an awesome BFF.

I recently heard the line "I'm such a bad friend" from a friend and it left such a bad taste in my mouth. The admission that she sucks made me realize I was better off not investing too much time in her. Now she's trying to get back together with me. The nerve.

Great post.

Mothers' Hideaway said...

I have been so jaded because of the friends I have had come and go. So many times my heart has been broken because they have forgotten me and when I reached out they did the same thing yours did "Oh, I've been so busy." and somehow...everything wasn't the same.

Rachael said...

I get this. I still think about my best friend from middle school and the way she dumped me and never looked back.

To me, there is not much worse than this weird, superficial dishonesty. If you're not going to call or put in an effort, then just admit it. Don't act like you care. That just makes you kind of mean. I'm glad you have a TRUE friend now.

leslie@gleaninggrace said...

I feel you, here! Your words feel very personal to me too. I have never been a girl with tons of girlfriends at one time; always just one or two close friends. One of those friends from High School accepted my friend request on FB, but yet will not answer any of my personal messages about getting together to catch up.
She and I and one other girl were inseparable for my last two years of high school!
It sucks, but I guess I just have to forget about it and keep my eyes open for that new TRUE friend :-)

Surrounded By Redheads said...

For the are a rockin BFF! I should know. Missing you to death as always. This post was also personal to me as the rest of those that commented and to Texan Mama. Although we do have eachother, I too have the same friendship "issues". Maybe that's what makes US work so well. Still, I'd love to know how to fix my "issues". I am usually the one making all the effort and just getting left in the dust. Wondering today how I can change all that without becoming what others might seem as "mean".
If I could just have you (Texan Mama) back in Illinois with would be perfect. Please tell your bff's how much they mean to you, not just today, but often. You have a rare gift.

the Lola Letters said...

I have had a hard time with friendships as I have gotten older. I feel like I am a total fail at them...: (

Anna See said...

I was just thinking about this today!

Jennifer said...

I thought I commented on this already... must have been commenting in my mind again. Sorry. Anyway- I feel this too. I have a hard time making really good friends and because I don't live where I plan on staying forever it is really hard. I had a friend a while back just like this. I always had to do all the work and finally, after being blown off yet again, I just let it drop and never called her about her standing me up. She called a few weeks later and acted like nothing happened and didn't even mention the plans we made that she never showed up for. She got my coolness and we discussed it a bit and it came down to her saying *I* was being unreasonable and her life just got in the way (she had two small children and I only had one baby) and I just didn't understand it. So, I let it go. I was obviously not as important to her as she was to me.

Annie said...

I went for almost 20 years without having a good friend. My family drained me... a brother seriously ill and at death's door numerous time, a sister with scary husband that would track her down, 3 daughters - two of which were victims of a physical assault, a s-i-l with cancer and an abusive relationship, and and and. There were extended family members with occasional emergencies and deaths, diseases and dramas. I had to do those important things, and I couldn't sustain a friendship... it would have to come at a cost for these people who NEEDED someone, and for who there were no friends to stand in my place. My husband was the only friend for me. I couldn't trust anyone else to be there, because they leaned so heavily in my direction.

2 years ago I reconnected with a friend from high school. It's lead to Bible study, trips to the city to see Christmas decorations, dog walks, and I have a friend. I haven't had an unrelated friend in a long time. We exchanged Christmas presents and I felt like a little girl with my "best girlfriend".

I just read "Friends For The Journey" by Madeleine L'Engle & her friend of 25 years - Luci Shaw. I ordered one for each of us. I never made a friend because I knew I couldn't keep one - I'd be the one with no time to spend, and I'd have been resentful to all the people who needed me because I'd have much rather been able to go for a cappuccino and a movie with a girlfriend...