Saturday, January 29, 2011

Girlfriends. The Mini-Series. Part One.

This is a hard post for me to write because I have to admit a few shortcomings and struggle to put words to one of the hardest things I've struggled with as an adult. So bear with me... I don't think I'm going to cry. But it's an ongoing issue. And it seems to have struck a chord with a few readers because there were several comments about it when I just barely mentioned it awhile back... so here we go.

Thank goodness we're all works-in-progress. Because I've changed in so many ways over the years, hopefully most of them good.

As a child, there were probably two things that stand out the most as distinctive, character issues for me. One - I had an inordinate amount of self-confidence. Not sure where that came from - but I believed I was the smartest, funniest, coolest chick around. I knew I was good at stuff. And I believed I could accomplish anything I wanted. Even through junior high, I held myself high on my own personal pedestal and never struggled with the self-doubt and uncertainty many kids notoriously suffer. And secondly, I had a best friend. A friend who appeared in my Sunday School class when I was five and became my soul mate. We were loyal to each other in ways fickle little girls usually are not and I hardly remember any blips on the radar of our friendship. Sure, we fought occasionally. But I never doubted that she was (and would be) my best friend always.

Those two things came together in my formative years to create a young woman who did not perceive a need for very many people - particularly for girl friends. I grew up with two brothers in a neighborhood full of boys. There were three other girls on our LONG country road - one several years older and two many years younger. In my age group, there was me, Phil, Monte, Troy, and Eric. I knew how to be friends with boys. Boys were easy. Girls, on the other hand, fought about silly things. I had very little tolerance for silly things.

I did have other friends who were girls. Corey (the best friend) and I attended different schools until we got to high school, so of course, I had other friends at school. But even there, I was privileged to go to a K-8, small country school where most of us had simply known each other since forever. I didn't have to make friends. They were just there.

Fast forward. College was fine... I took a fairly non-traditional route and didn't do the four-years-in-a-row-live-in-the-dorms thing. In fact, I only went to school full time for a year and a half, never living on campus and changing schools after one year. I have no real friends from college, to speak of.

I moved to California when I was twenty to go into full time ministry. Again, I was still full of confidence, thinking I was going to single-handedly save the inner-city of San Jose. I became the rock star of the ministry I worked for, developing a cutting edge reading readiness program for preschoolers in one of the worst school districts in the state. I did have good friends during this phase of my life - dear co-workers that I co-labored with in the ghetto - bonding over break-ins and sharing meals. We lived in community before I even knew what that meant. It was cool. I had a few good girlfriends during this time... so I guess this was a stage when I managed to get out there and meet people and make the most of a BIG change. Corey was newly married at this point - and our friendship was going through probably one of the most difficult periods we ever faced. We pushed through it. But it was awkward at best.

Then I met Asia. And we got married. And I moved back 'home.' And we struggled through those first few years of marriage when you're trying to discover how in the world to navigate friendships as a married couple. Again - awkward. But we were young and in love and it was all okay.

Then I got pregnant. And I was suddenly thrust into this club... this maternal 'I have something in common with anyone who's ever had a baby' society. And I had friends who were also having babies and trying to figure out the whole motherhood thing. And we bonded. And we were good friends. We were so desperate for adult interaction that we clung to each other fervently, revelling so much in the few hours of freedom we might find once or twice a month that we were content to do our grocery shopping together... just talking, laughing, being friends.

We moved to Spokane somewhere in the middle of that phase. I had an almost four and almost two-year-old. I would soon become pregnant with my third. Moving here, I interrupted the flow of those friendships and tried frantically to re-create them here. Which began a serious struggle with friendship.

Without going into too much detail, I will say that I was hurt. I lost all the self-confidence I used to feel. I went through a period where I felt unwanted, unworthy and unnecessary.

I don't point fingers. It was just a really hard time for me. I am beginning to be able to identify things I could have done differently. Faults in myself I didn't see or acknowledge at the time.

I came out of that experience about six years ago. And frankly, I was tired. Hurt. Overwhelmed by being in the crazy everyone-going-ten-different-directions-school-years with the kids. It was easy to be content just being busy.

And so basically, I quit trying.

The phase where I was conveniently in control of all the hours of the day and could sit with other women in McDonald's playlands were over. We were all running all over with kids and activities and the river of woman/motherhood began to trickle too many different directions to make friendships easy.

So I just didn't make time to try.

And now, while I have some women I would definitely call friends, I can honestly say that in the twelve-plus years we've lived in Spokane, I have not been, or had, a dear friend.

This has become really long. And I have so much more I want to say. I'm going to make this a multi-post topic for now. Because I want to do it justice. And because it deserves a lot more.

Stay tuned.

3 comments:

  1. thank you for writing this...I, too, had a "best" friend beginning in early high school...til her Dad was transferred to Denver :(...for me that began a series of close friends moving away....I am 60 & struggling to put together a community of friends...I have been hurt also...sometimes it feels like I am one of the high school girls I spend alot of time with :*)

    You are an amazing woman & anyone would be lucky to call you their friend~

    xo

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  2. Waiting for Part 2 and beyond - love your vulnerability in this post...BUT I want more! Mostly because I believe that you are one of the people on this planet that deserves to have real intimacy in her relationships. Your heart is so good and you love so well and the world is so wrong if you don't have the redemptive healing that opens you up to REAL again. You have been my friend for a long time - you have accepted my path and never been confused - so many people long for that in friendship - and I know that you deserve that...so I pray and believe that you will have this in this season of your life. And I wait to hear more...you can do this. Love you more every day-how many people can say that they have had a friend for 36 years who loves them more every single day AND thinks about them every day even though they have not lived near them for over 23+ years?

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  3. Cathy - I know you are not alone in this one. I have made few true deep friendships as an adult, it is hard. Our time and attentions have turned to our children and I have tons of "aquaintences" I have made along the way. Add changing churches in that mix - talk about never really finding your niche again - I am lucky enough to have one dear friend I have made as an adult, and one dear friend "left over" from childhood, with whom I reconnected after years apart. Otherwise, I got the hubbie, kids and one couple friend that have been our couple friend since we met since he was my husbands best friend when I met him. Add to the mix, my anti-social husband...see where I am going.....I can see how , now as the kids are getting older, you start to crave a girlfriend, and that intimate relationship. Wish I was closer, I know we could be friends. I can be your east coast friend! I'll send you some snow!

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