Thursday, June 24, 2010

The journey of friendship

Friendship has never been easy for me. I've just never understood it nor has it come naturally to me. This is a bit odd because my sister is probably the living embodiment of what it means to be a fierce friend. You would think I would have picked up some tips along the way and maybe I have but I am still floundering in actually learning how to make, keep and be a real friend.

I have been doing a lot of really good reading and am pleasantly surprised at just how far ahead I am on my proposed summer reading list. I am more than halfway through the books I wanted to read this summer so I have been adding to my pile. One book in particular was on the bottom of my pile but I bumped it to the top yesterday and I am so glad I did. Friendship for Grownups by Lisa Whelchel. All I had known about her as a writer up to this point was Creative Correction which only gives a limited perspective into the parts of her life that she wants you to see. The perfect storm of Emma taking a long nap, Lydia being very content to play alone and an unexpected evening off when Justin got home allowed me to finish the book in one afternoon/evening.

I could so relate to some of the things Lisa spoke about in her book. You see, I never learned much about friendship in elementary school as I was never popular or particularly well liked. I find it completely foreign when people remark that they still have friendships that exist from childhood. Jr. High was not much better and what I learned about friendship in High School I wish I could somehow unlearn. High School contained all the right basis for what could and maybe should have been a great experience with friendship but really just turned out to be a failed experience into what friendship should be.

My earliest memories of friendship were of befriending the outcasts and the people who were different. That continued through Jr. High. High School however provided a different experience because I had a group of friends that had relatively the same schedule and of course being in band and choir solidified who I would hang out with. I don't know that I struggled anymore than any other high school student with my identity and finding out who I was. I mean sure I tired on a few different hats to see what worked best and where I fit in most but in the end I was content to just be me rather than constantly change who I was. On the other hand, the actual practice of friendship in my life at this point was devastating. I have said many times that the only thing I learned about friendship in high school was that it wasn't necessary and that it wasn't safe. The group of friends that I had made it common practice to gossip about the people who were not there at the time. We didn't gossip about other people in the school, only the people who we were "friends" with and who were absent at that moment. From these lessons in friendship I learned that I don't need anyone, I can only depend on myself and friendship is not safe.

I operated on these assumptions for quite a long time. I was dating Justin when I went to college so I missed many opportunities to learn about friendship out of sheer busyness and knowledge that I was going to be married at a young age. To let you know how bad a friend I was, I can't even remember my college roommates last names. Of the three that I had I can only recollect 1 name. That is what I call pitiful.

So, where does that bring me now? Well, if high school, college and early adulthood didn't force me to recognize my need for friends having kids sure did. When I had Lydia and began to stay home I recognized just how much I needed other people to rely on but learning about friendship from the age 25 on has been a difficult journey. More of my journey to come in another post. It is the wee hours of the morning and I must go back to bed.


Maria said...

I'm so glad that we are friends. :)

Alise said...

You sure are right about needing friends as a parent. I went through a bit of a dry spell after I was married and had kids, and I remember sitting in small group crying because I was so lonely for a close friend. After I got married, I assumed that Jason was supposed to be my best friend and that was all I needed, but that did NOT work.

I think it was "What Every Mom Needs" by Morgan & Kuykendall that really fixed my thinking on that. Of course, finding friends as an adult can be difficult. I'm lucky because I've had some really spectacular friends over the years so I know what works for me, but it's still difficult.

Looking forward to reading more!