Finding Friends

The Inspired Life

The very first friend I ever remember having was a charming girl named Melissa in first grade. She had bright blue eyes and yellow hair cut in a chin length bob that bounced and swung when she moved her  head. Her laugh was more of a giggle and she found everything to be the funniest thing she had ever heard. I followed her all through the first grade, her humor sweet ambrosia to my serious nature. I still remember the time that she got the Mumps and missed school for a few weeks. It was as if someone had turned out the lights, leaving the school dim and dull. Her sunny presence made everything a joy.

We moved after first grade, out to the country for several years and I lost track of her. For those years that I lived there I never found a new best friend, or even any true friends at all. I played with my siblings, hung out with my books and writings and spent my time playing in the fields. When we moved, yet again the summer before fifth grade, I never looked back, I had no one to leave behind.

By the time I reached 8th grade, I still hadn’t found a social group of kids or one best friend to call my own. I hovered on the sidelines, being friendly but had no social network, no one sharing sleep overs or long conversations. I was lonely and I wanted friends. I made a genuine decision to actively make some new friends. Unfortunately, the friends I found were not any mother’s dream for their daughter. Over the course of the next three years I got into a lot of trouble with my new friends and made some poor choices that had life-altering consequences. It was time to grow up. It was time to make changes. I couldn’t go in a new direction and keep the same friends. I didn’t want to go back to a life with no friends at all.

But I did. Sixteen years old and alone with a child, my *old* friends suddenly had nothing in common with me anymore. They wanted to party and play and have fun. I had jobs and money to earn and a child to take care of and an education to figure out. There was no place to meet in the middle. We went our seperate ways.

I met a few new people. One was a woman who needed a roommate because she was down on her luck. I thought we would be friends. She forged a check out of my checkbook. I asked her to move out. There were more after that…too many to mention…It would be a long post. What I began to learn was that while I thought I was picking friends that cared about me, they were picking me because they wanted something from me. Money, help, babysitting, favors, an hour or so of listening to their troubles, every day… It was tiring, exhausting. New baby, too much work and friends who were freeloaders and users.

I needed new friends. Again.

Why was I so bad at this? I gave and gave and gave my friends everything they wanted. I was there for them. I helped them. I listened. They were never there for me when I had troubles. They never listened to me if I had a problem, We never did things that interested me, it was always things that interested them. And these were ALWAYS the kind of friends I had.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.

The definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It was time to look in the mirror. It was time to realize that the problem wasn’t the friends I was picking, the problem was me. Something I was doing, choices I was making, words said or not said. It was happening to me year after year with different people. No one is THAT unlucky. The problem was me.

I confessed my concern to a friend that seemed to be different than the rest. I had been going through a particularly rough time with a personal relationship and she asked me about it. I clammed up. She called me on it. “Listen, ” she said, “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t complain that nobody listens to you if you aren’t willing to talk. If you always have to act like everything is fine. If you are never willing to admit that you have a problem or that you need something. You have to be willing to ask. Let a person know how you feel once in awhile.” I was shocked. She was exasperated with me.

I started journaling about it. As a life time journaler and writer I realized that I had been using my journal as a friend to tell my troubles to. I listened to my friends but my journal listened to me. There was no two-way street in any of my friendships. And it was my fault. I never spoke up. I never let out my true feelings. I wasn’t being honest or authentic, I just let everyone go about their merry way, and did whatever they wanted. They had no idea I wasn’t having fun, wasn’t happy, wasn’t feeling I was an equal…because I had never told them.

My friends weren’t mind readers. I wasn’t talking. We were at an impasse. But there was an even bigger problem. Before I could tell them what I wanted, what I needed, I had to figure it out. I had spent so long stuffing my thoughts and feelings down that I couldn’t just draw them up on command. It took practice. Hard work. Sometimes I would have to think of it ahead of time and practice saying it out loud. It sounds silly now, all these years later but it’s true. I had to learn how to be an authentic friend.

I have good friends now. Great ones. Married my best guy friend one year ago this coming up August and my best girl friend and I are going on ten years this August. Happy Anniverary to both of the JK’s in my life.

I have other friends too.  Off-line and On-line. I have lots of friends but at the same time I am pickier now then ever before. Pickier because I choose friends according to my values and interests, not by who’s around or who will give me the time of day or who seems to *need* something. Time is valuable and I have to make choices to spend my time with the people who are going to value the same things that I value. I choose to value hanging with *Like-minded* people that have things in common.

Sometimes friendships are for a time. People come into your lives and then they pass through. There was a purpose to it, a lesson, a message  or maybe just a little comfort to be shared at that point in the journey. There is no guilt in letting go of a friendship that has drifted out of its prime. But at the same time, there is nothing in the world more valuable than the honest to goodness love of true friendship and doing what it takes to keep it together.

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12 thoughts on “Finding Friends

  1. Very true. A very perceptive and open post! At first I felt sad reading it but now you have great friends as well as a best friend in your hubby. That makes me happy! I’ve had struggles like yours as well, not having a child but getting divorced at 26. Lost almost everyone. And everyone since then has been hard. The patient and forgiving ones have stuck with me, thankfully. And my hubby is also a very wonderful friend, I’m glad to say.

  2. Wendi, as always your post was incredibly moving. I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by a circle of true friends. I have also treasured those who were there for a season or two, my life was always enriched by each friendship. I am so very glad that your journey has come full circle and that you now are able to enjoy wonderful balanced friendships. Bless you for sharing your story, I am sure that others will find encouragement in your words.

  3. Hi Wendi,

    There is nothing better than a best friend (and we can have more than one). I love my old friends. We live apart from each other, but when we talk, we just pick up where we left off. To have a friend, we need to be a friend. But like you said, some friends go and move in a different direction. But a true friend will be with you forever. Sweet!

    BTW: I love the quote “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.”. So very true!

  4. Great post:) You know you have a true friend, when weeks, months and sometimes years (lets hope not) go by and you can get together and it feels like not time has passed! Thanks, Girlfriend! Its always fun!

  5. Jackie!!!!
    Hey everyone…my other JK is here!! happy anniversary darlin’ , Where did the time go??? I guess its what they say..time goes fast when you’re having fun!

    Barbara,
    Yes, true friends are with you forever. But…I also think they are rare…A lot of people don’t value friendship as much as they could. I treasure them.

    Karen,

    I am so glad you have been blessed by good friends…but then..I’m not really surprised…: cause you are so sweet!

    Steph,

    I have done that divorce thing….Ug…But..there IS life after divorce and it …for me and a huge bunch of us can be better than ever, especially if we are willing to learn from the experience. Sounds like you have the good thing going on now! I’m happy for you!

  6. Beautiful post yet again! How do you do it, you always post exactly what I need to hear! You must be reading my mind! I have friends who even though I see rarely, I can still talk to and it’s like no time has passed. There are friends I miss having but now know I am better off without them. I also have friends who I know care, I just sometimes have a hard time seeing it, I know I care so much and am not sure I’d get it in return!

    Keep up the GREAT work!

  7. “People come into your lives and then they pass through. There was a purpose to it, a lesson, a message or maybe just a little comfort to be shared at that point in the journey.”

    Very true. 🙂

  8. A true “keeper”, Wendi. Loved every word.
    Never have been one to know how to attract true friends.
    However, now, when I least expect it, the “true” ones are entering my life. Somehow, when I quit trying to get friends, the Universe has, in my final years, begun to send them to me. True, caring, honest, of like mind, friends. True blessings, every one.

    Hugs,
    Ms. O
    Hotel Agatha
    The Between and Beyond

  9. Wendi, thanks for another terrific reflection. My husband and I are very close, and I find that with that, and my children, I really don’t have the time or energy to give to anyone else – though I do recognize the need for friendship outside of my close-knit circle. I haven’t really found the right solution. When my kids were little I had a few close friends who had kids the same age, and we had some really great times. As the kids have gotten older we’ve definitely lost touch.

    Thanks for making me think…

  10. Lisa, that you so much for joining our community, I really appreciate you taking the time to post! I understand the part about family taking up time. I am friends with a lot of my family. In fact my two oldest kids and their S.O’s are some of our best friends, we all hang out together all the time. I feel very blessed by that.

    Ms O, I don’t have to tell you that I cherish you among my dear dear friends. I feel honored to have found you. 🙂

    Leafless,
    That actually was a hard lesson for me to learn. I used to mourn each and every person who passed through my life. Took it very hard and was honestly pretty clingy. I had to learn that it was OK to let go, it didn’t mean I was being rejected.

    Jenny,

    Yeah I can think of a few friends in you past who needed to be shown the door! But you have a lot of really great ones now!

    Daz, that sums it up nicely, appreciate what we have, and who we have in our lives. I sure am glad to have the friends I have met here. For sure you!!

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