Thursday, June 21, 2012

# about me # friendship

Why I Don't Have Local Friends

Some of you may know that I have problems with making and keeping friends. This isn't a new issue. It's been something I've struggled with for a lot of years. It's something that has once again reared its head and something I've spent a lot of time thinking about.

Justin, more than once, has pointed out how much of a people person I am and how people like me and yet he couldn't understand why I don't really have friends. It's been pointed out by others the past couple of days with comments like, "I've seen how you are with people." and "People love you." I love people too. I'm just terribly afraid of them.

So here, in my safe place, I'm going to share my thoughts on why I don't have friends. If you choose to comment, please choose to comment out of love and for no other reason. This post is for me. It's my chance to explore and I'm trusting all of you enough to share that process with you.

For as long as I can remember, I haven't had more than one or two close friends. Even going back so far as elementary or middle school, I can only remember having one close friend at a time. My fear of rejection was already firmly in place, even if I didn't realize it.

You see, I've lived a life of feeling replaced and unwanted. It started with my parents. When they divorced, they handed my sister and I to my grandparents and walked away. It wasn't for any good reason, just that they couldn't be bothered being parents anymore. Then, growing up, my grandparents babied my sister and my mother actually chose to raise my brother. I wasn't the important one to anyone.

Fast forward to middle school. For most of elementary school, I only remember having one close friend. Her name was Kim and when we got to middle school, she made new friends (like kids do) and I felt left out and replaced and unwanted. So, I made friends with Mike and we were best friends from then until we graduated high school. Then, I went off to college and Mike started hanging out with Jana and even he admitted later that she replaced me because he missed me. The bad part of that? I didn't have a new best friend..I was on the outside again.

Fast forward to my marriage and let's just say I felt very easily replaced. I've lived my whole life feeling as if I am easily replaced. Because of this, I've built up this defense mechanism that doesn't allow me to see that people really like me. I lived in Buffalo for two years and it wasn't until I was leaving that I realized that people were actually going to miss me. Rob and nickle loved me for two years but we didn't become friends until I left because I never realized.

Over the past couple of days, I've been encouraged and pushed..yes, some of those closest to me to attend an event where there'd be a chance for me to meet local people and to maybe make some friends. My answer was simple. I don't want local friends. I like the friends that I have. I know that to some that sounds ridiculous. How could someone not want local friends? The answer is simple. Fear.

Because of my past, I have a hard time letting people get close to me. When people start to, I instinctively and subconsciously start to pull back. Please believe me when I say it's not intentional. I am so afraid of being hurt, rejected or replaced, that I pull back before anyone can do that to me. The thing is...I'm still hurt because in my messed up way, I see it as the other person pulling away.

Then, on the rare occasion, that I either let someone get close..or like in the case of Walter, they somehow slide past the barriers without me realizing, I become terribly possessive of that friendship. I'm so scared that someone else will come along and replace me that I can't seem to easily or willingly share that person with others new people. Prior friends are ok, but I see each and every new person, especially if they're female, as a threat. In the end, I really believe that this perceived threat combined with "x" spending time with someone new must mean that they love me less ends up driving people away.

It was pointed out to me today that just because people meet new friends, spend time with other people, etc doesn't mean that I've done something wrong. The sad part is that while my head knows that's logically true, my heart doesn't get it. My heart and my head rarely agree on things. My heart is that little voice inside my head that says what did you do now? What is wrong with you that you can't keep your friends interested in being your friends? It's the part of me that's been hurt so many times that doesn't want to let anyone new in but desperately wants to hold onto those that it loves.

Those in my life know that this mellows with time. Over time, as their behavior towards me doesn't change just because new people come in, I calm down and am far closer to normal..It's those new friendships that run the risk of me scaring the bejeebers out of the person and them running for the hills.

It's been said of me, by someone who has known me over 15 years, that when I love, I love unconditionally and that I would do absolutely anything for someone that I love. He said that the problem is that most people aren't like that. Most people have an inherent selfish streak and when that comes up, I don't know how to handle it because I judge people off of what I would do and there are so very few people in the world that are like me.  I'm sensitive to changes and I overthink them and I panic. Those who can roll with that and reassure me and tell me they love me..those are the ones that stay. Those who can't, walk away. As someone who can't walk away, I'm crushed each and every time this happens.

In the end, making new friends means putting my heart at risk again. It means needing people and not knowing how to tell them what it is I need or make them understand why I am the way that I am. People frequently look at my family and say how did you turn out so normal? The truth is..I didn't. I'm as messed up as any of them. It's just that my messed up is internal while theirs is there for all the world to see. By keeping people out, they don't see how messed up I really am.

I know that this isn't healthy, but it is who I am. Last night, I walked into a new group of people that I had never met because those who love me reassured me that if I needed to, I could walk away. For those who have stuck with me and rolled with the neediness, the possessiveness and the moments of fear and panic, there aren't enough words to thank you. I hope that you know how much it means to me to have some amazing people as friends. I frequently feel as if I don't deserve you or question how anyone so incredible could love me, but somehow you do and here you are.

For the person who I feel as if has pulled away from me because he has a new friend...I'm sorry. I really and truly don't want to feel the way that I do and I try to fight it for you. Somehow, you snuck past the barriers and you're different. As those who have gotten past those barriers before you and who I've spoken to about you..they'll all tell you that you're something different in my life. I'm terrified, plain terrified, of losing that and of losing you and it's causing me to act out. I promise that if you hang in there, it does get easier. It's probably never easy to be my friend..but I hope that the rewards are worth the effort.

For the new people who may come into my life..all I can say is that you've been warned. As for will I make new friends? I can't honestly say. I went last night and it was a huge first step for me. I think I'll go back again next month and see what happens next...


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1 comment:

Crystal said...

So, I wondered if this was a little what was going on, when you asked for people to be your friend and it seemed like the attempt I was trying to make was being pushed aside. I am not the 'oooh lets be BFF's and ever and ever' type so either I mesh with someone and it's cool or I don't and that's ok. I annoy some people, and that's ok, too. And so I wasn't sure if it was just that you were not so keen on me, or thought our mutual friend base made it too awkward. So I figured I'd comment on your blogs when I have something to say and just listen to the rest.

With all that said, I definitely understand your emotional responses and how they are linked to the events throughout your life. I think the key is to realize that it's not up to any other person to define you as worthy of the friendships you seek, it's up to you to determine whether the friendships you are seeking are worthy of you. When you decide you are a damn good friend to have, and really believe that, then it will be easier to sort of go with the flow of a friendship. Because honestly there have been very very few, even close friendships, that haven't had some lull in the contact and/or sharing. Also I tend to only expect that someone I care about will make sure to get in touch with me over major life events. I like hearing from people as often as they like to reach me, even just to discuss problems they have and they want my advice. I enjoy discussing behaviors and how to change them, it's my background after all. But I get why people sort of get too busy unless you are seeing them regularly. I've never thought of it as being replaced, just that as we grow older, we do meet new people and new people have lots of new stuff to find out about, and you can learn a lot from them and that can really eat up some time in the beginning and like you said, things even out in the end after you get past the beginnings. I too have the unconditional love factor, for my close friends, and so I expect if I can keep adding to those numbers,then my friends always have enough room for a Crystal sized space in their hearts as well. Until someone tells me otherwise or disappears entirely, I choose to believe I'm still just as loved as ever. And I truly think it's because I am coming at it from the perspective of feeling like I'm a damn good friend to have and I deserve to be loved that way.

I hope that was helpful, I am not at all judging you or being snippy, just observing, cuz that's a big part of what I do and I was just stating my perspective.

*hugs* I hope you feel better on this soon.

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