Thursday, May 06, 2010

Friendship Obsession or No Pictures, Yet. Sorry!

"The thing is, Cheryl," she told me, "is that you aren't just everybody's friend. You are everybody's best friend."

I have always been social. Friendship has always been very important to me. I have spent hours upon hours emailing, mailing, phoning, thinking about, praying for, and visiting with friends. I am definitely a people-person. I have always enjoyed making new friends, planning friend get-togethers and the like, and through it all, I've seen friends as a necessity. I still do.

Sort of.

After I had to burn a bridge (that still leaves me feeling guilty, unfortunately), I kind of turned a corner. I realized that sacrificing my time, my children, my spouse, my sanity, and my money on friendships that weren't, aren't, can't be, and shouldn't be reciprocated was kind of stupid. I mean, don't get me wrong, I will always value friendship. Service and love are the most important things, hands down! I love my friends. But I simply do not have the time to invest the way I used to. I don't. And it's left me feeling kind of down about it. A bit.

See, I don't comment on blogs anymore (although I read them). I don't email. I occasionally will still plan a get-together, but not very often. Weeks and months will go by before I remember to reply to a message on Facebook. And as I'm doing this (the "not replying"), I keep thinking, "This isn't me! I'm the best friend! I'm the go-to gal! I'm the planner! The one to rally! The glue that holds all friendships together!" And yet, through the midst of this jarring change, I also have seen something in myself that hasn't really been there before. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it's very much like relief. Kind of like freedom. This ability to not feel guilty, not worry, and not stress over relationships is so freeing! But it's still so new for me. In fact, just recently a friend of mine wrote, after I apologized for taking so long to reply to her email:

Honestly, please don't worry about returning my emails. I do love them and enjoy our friendship, but I would hate for you to ever feel any guilt about an un-returned email sitting in your inbox! So, send them when you can and I will, too!

Isn't that what true friendship is about? Especially amongst mothers? Our time is so precious, so divided, so needed. It's taken up by diapers, homework, laundry, cooking, cleaning, bills, dates, ouchies, discipline, teaching, comforting, church callings, community service, book club (hey, it's a priority for me!), and birthday parties. Friendship is important, too, but when it clogs up the rest of our lives, it's no longer a good thing. It needs to be nurtured, yes, but in a healthy way. My obsession with being everybody's best friend was clogging up my life. In a negative way.

So, friends, if you don't hear from me for a while, please don't take it personally. I can promise you that I still love you. I do. Friendship will always be important to me. In fact, I'll probably still plan a get-together this summer! I may even plan a fabulous weekly play-group for all those in the Utah Valley area (something I promised another friend. Whom I still haven't seen. Yet. Because of everything I just wrote). But I won't be worrying constantly about how I'm perceived. Or how everyone is doing. I'll be here for you if you need me and ask it of me --but don't be surprised if I don't seek you out. It's really not meant to be a slight --I'm just trying to be healthier all the way around.

How do friendships work in your life? Have you had to change the way you view personal friendship?


Stephanie said...

One of the greatest things about a TRUE friend is that no matter how much time passes, you're still friends. I have college roommates that I see about twice a year, and rarely, if ever, talk to in between visits - even if one gives birth (which maybe SHOULD prompt a telephone call). But despite the time that passes, I still consider them some of my very best friends, and the second we get together, it's like we never stopped living together (except for the husbands and kids we now have).

I contrast that with a group of women I saw every Wednesday morning at 10:00 for two solid years, as part of a play group. I definately considered them good friends, and we talked about a lot of things. But in my list of best friends, I wouldn't include any of them. So friendship isn't about a weekly, or monthly, get together; it's about loving and understanding, I think. And knowing that if you called your friend on the phone, even after years, she would probably still recognize your voice and be delighted to hear from you, and it would be as if no time had ever passed.

In other words, even if years went by between visits and phone calls, a true personal friend will always remain a friend.

Emily & Co. said...

Ditto to the comment and the post.

FYI: I just broke my "I don't comment on blogs rule" (I do that every once in a while)!

Friends w/o expectations are the BEST!

Cheryl said...

i love friends and am a good friend but i don't have time for high maintenance friendships. i echo the first comment about true matter how much time passes it doesn't matter because you can pick right back up like no time has passed at all. there has been some drama in my ward lately and i have pulled back on some "friendships" because I don't have the time or energy to deal with people who act 14 again.

Bex said...

I'm just writing this to let you know that we're no longer friends. It's because you haven't replied to my (non-existant) emails and it would be a miracle if you would ever reply to my (never left) voice mails. And I really only say this because I just saw you four months ago and it's been over a year since we've spent significant time together. So there you have it. Now, can I borrow that one dress? You know the one we traded for that date that time in high school?


Michelle said...

This is a great post. Yay for you.

I think social media has made this harder for many of can bring new connections but also a new sense of obligation that can, as you captured so well, be unhealthy.

Good, better, best.

(hehe...the word verification is stici -- kind of like sticky, like some friendships can be?)

Sara said...

woahhhhh ... did i write this post?! seriously, you stepped inside my head with most of this.
it's so true, especially as we become mothers and wives, that friendships sometimes just aren't the same. Yet (and that's a big YET!!) at the same time, like the first commenter wrote, true friendships remain no matter how much time passes, or how bad we are with keeping in touch. Nikki M. and I see each other maybe once every 2 years and I still know I could call her in a bind and she'd be there for me no matter what. We are AWFUL (ok, SHE is awful haha) at emailing and calling but the friendship remains.

And I am still adjusting to being here in Utah. Once DH starts his job (in a week) I'll probably want to hang out more ... don't feel obligated to organize anything ... really! :)

this was a great post.
i'm sure you'll get lots more comments on it.


p.s. I love it when i get linked! it's sorta like that old school feeling of having your name read to come to the office at the end of school - or something like that, haha.