Tag Archives: trust

Everyday Friends

“The surest sign of age is loneliness.”
– Anne Dillard

Let’s talk about adult friendships, shall we?

I want to show you something that I saw yesterday.

“Wish those people who talk about their recent outings or make plans in my presence realized that they never invite me. Are they insensitive? Do they assume I’m busy or disinterested?
Feeling a little hurt because I’m realizing that I invested over a year trying to build friendships that will never be more than functional, practical acquaintances.
I’ve got people who live too far away for random, everyday interactions. I’ve got people I can call in a crisis but I don’t have that circle of local girlfriends I’ve been hoping for. Guess it’s time to move on. Problem is, surrounded by so many locals, no one has an opening for an ‘everyday friend.’”

friendship blogWhat you just read was an online post from my Facebook friend Tiffany. I saw it yesterday while scrolling through and I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind. I had a passing thought to blog about it, but then decided maybe not. Really, what could I write about? And what could I offer? Advice? Ha. Hardly. Why? Because I’m not qualified, that’s why. I’m just like Tiffany.

I feel exactly the same way.

And then today, as if the universe knew I was trying to hide from the thought, I received a message from Kim, a mutual friend of mine and Tiffany’s. This is what she had to say:

“I am sadly amazed at the responses to Tiffany’s post. Given the outpouring of understanding she received, I would love to see you blog about this. It is a widespread topic that we are reluctant to put out there. Oh, I’m whining, or pathetic, or some other dreamt up stupid adjective that is not accurate (except in our mind). You write THE best, honest, open and heartfelt pieces. For all of us who feel strangely disenfranchised, please write.”

Could I write about this? Really? What would I have to say?

So, the first thing I did was go back and read Tiffany’s post and peruse the responses. Here’s what I saw:

 “Ditto. Ditto exactly.” – Veronica

“I can relate to this.” – Blakeley

“I feel the same way.” – Heidi

“Thank you for your honesty. More people than you know feel the same way here.” – Becky

“I don’t have this either.” – Cassondra

(And let me just pause here to point out that Cassondra is my next door neighbor and a friend from my community theatre. Geez.)

Now, aside from the many commenters who simply voiced their understanding of Tiffany’s statement, there were also a few who attempted to rationalize it as well.

 “This makes me….wish I was less generally ‘hermity.’” – Season

Looks like Season seems to be blaming herself here. She sees it as a flaw in her own personality or is seeing it as her choice to be alone.

And on that same note:

“I don’t have it either. I think it’s harder to be close to people as I get older. I’m less trusting and more self sufficient.” – Melissa (Oh, wait, that’s me.)

Like Season (gosh I love that name), my comment fell into the same category. Somehow I feel as if I have chosen to feel like Tiffany does.

Some seemed to blame it on the small area we live in:

“Our area is a difficult place to form friendships. I had so many good friends in SC that I went out with on a regular basis. When we moved back home, I had my family but no friends.” – Andrea

“That’s the problem with small towns; they typically aren’t very welcoming to ‘outsiders’ in a deep friendship way. We really haven’t had good friends since we lived in Atlanta.” – Jill

And one mentioned the fact that we don’t make the time for these friendships:

“We are busy and allow the urgent to overtake the important, we don’t take time for girlfriend relationships.” – Cyndi

Then, one that really stood out to me and got me right in the feels:

“I struggle with this same thing. Since I’ve changed my life and try to focus on doing good I don’t have anyone that likes to come around either. It’s funny when you party and act wild you’ll have friends around but as soon as I sober up nobody calls or comes around. So I just hangout with my sweet boys all the time. But it’d def be nice to have a friend too.” – Crystal

(Oh, Crystal. Do you have any idea how strong you are, lady? I sure hope so.)

So, here we have a variety of women with a variety of reasons why they think they have lost this connection with other women. Which one is right?

Are Andrea and Jill onto something? Is it the area we live in? I can certainly relate to that if it is. As a woman who definitely did not grow up in this small town, I often feel left out when I see these female friendships that have been blooming for years.

Or, is it what Cyndi said? Is it the fact that we don’t make time for friendships? As women who are all grown up and now have jobs and kids to take care of and houses to keep clean, is it that we just don’t have the time anymore to pick up the phone and make a plan for a girls’ night? Again, I get it. It seems frivolous in a way. We are women – we take care of things. Who is going to keep things on track around here if we take the night off?

Or is Crystal the one who has it figured out? Have we just outgrown friendships? While we might not have all changed as profoundly as Crystal has (and again – you go girl!), we’ve definitely all changed. There’s no doubt about it. We get older and the things that were once important to us just aren’t anymore.

Or are Season and I the ones that have it figured out. Is it just our choice to not be close to people anymore? Some of us realize it, but maybe some of us don’t?

Sigh. Again, like I said at the beginning of this blog, I don’t really know why I’m writing this. I don’t have the ability to provide answers. Like another commenter, Conor, said, “I can’t offer advice, only empathy.” What is there to say?

Well, other than this:

Tiffany, you are obviously not alone.

“Do you know how many people feel the same way? You have opened up a conversation here that so many are afraid to even contemplate because they don’t want to recognize the hurt and rejection that comes with it. Community is SO needed!!!” – Julie

Julie, my dear, you are on to something. You see all of those suggestions of why up there? They don’t matter. They really don’t. We can sit and try to analyze it all day. Maybe there are a million different reasons it happens, but the fact is that it does happen. It has happened to so many of us.

And now, the question is this – what do we do about it?

I want to go out on a limb and hypothesize about something. I think social media plays a huge role in this conundrum. Now, hear me out here.

I have friends. Really, I do. In fact, I have about 1,045 of them. Don’t believe me? Just ask Facebook. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t cherish those friends on there. I do. In fact, I have a few that I don’t know what I’d do without. When I need a listening ear, I just type away and there they are.

But is that the same thing? Really?

How many times have I said, “I have a problem I need to talk about. Can I come over?” Or how many times have I reached out to someone else? How many times have I said, “I’m sorry you’re hurting, I’ll be right over.” I’ll tell you how many times. Zero. It’s just too easy to have a typed conversation. Or send a funny meme. Or post a facebook status and watch the empathy roll in.

But is that enough?

Tiffany’s status and the overwhelming amount of responses she received tell me that maybe it’s not.

So now what?

I’m a runner. One of the things I always tell people who are just starting out, and the thing that was always told to me when I was first starting out, is this: the first step is always the hardest. Even as an experienced runner, that never fails to be the case. Some days I just don’t feel like running. But as soon as I put forth the effort to just get into my running gear, lace up my shoes, and take those first sluggish steps out the door, it gets easier after that.

Maybe that logic is the same that needs to be applied here.

Kudos to Tiffany. She took that first step. She acknowledged the problem. And not only did she acknowledge it, she put it out there. What courage that took. And because of that courage, she received messages like this one from Christy:

“You, me, coffee? I’d love to spend time with you! I guess I always figure people already have their group of friends since I’m new to town. I always need more girlfriends, though!”

And there you have it. Will Tiffany and Christy become best friends? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. Friendships are like relationships. Some work, some don’t. But, also like relationships, you have to try. You just have to.

It’s just way too lonely out here alone.

And as for me? Well, I guess it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. I have a neighbor that I’d like to get to know better.  And how ridiculous of me that I haven’t asked sooner.

***

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Flower Garden Theory

heartgarden

Flower Garden Theory

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Each morning we arise and tend to them –
Water
Soil
Fertilizer
…and out we step into the world.
People pass by.
Hurriedly, we share our garden with pride
“Look!
Isn’t it beautiful?
Here, take a flower for a while!
Just bring it back, ok?”

And what happens?

Some bring the flowers back
Beautiful and bright as ever
Well–tended
Sometimes in even better shape than before
We put them back in their rightful place –
The garden is as perfect as ever.

But sometimes.

Some bring the flowers back…not so beautiful
They haven’t taken care of them at all
They are wilted
Withered
Thirsty
We put them back in as best we can
But they no longer belong.
They are changed.

And sometimes still.

Some don’t bring the flowers back at all.
They didn’t realize they weren’t theirs to keep
They have cast them aside
Forgotten
(Or maybe they are thieves)
The garden now has an empty spot.

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Each morning we arise and tend to them –
Water
Soil
We make adjustments.
We remove the dead flowers from yesterday
(They didn’t make it through the night)
We adjust the borders to fill in the empty spots
Our garden is smaller
But still beautiful
…and out we step into the world.
People pass by.
We share our garden with pride
(Perhaps a little less pride than yesterday, however)
“Look!
Isn’t it beautiful?
Here, take a flower for a while!
Just bring it back, ok?”

The cycle repeats.

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Each morning we arise and tend to them –
Water
Soil
We make further adjustments.
We remove more dead flowers
Adjust the borders for even more empty spots.
Our garden is smaller
But still beautiful
(Sort of)
…and out we step into the world.
People pass by.
We start to share our garden…
But the pride has decreased
(Is it worth showing anymore?
Can they be trusted?)

We change our minds.
We keep our gardens to ourselves

For if we keep sharing…
They may disappear.

Our hearts are flower gardens.
Fenced-in.
Private.
Secure.

Trust

trustblog

I saw the above picture the other day, it made me stop in my tracks.

Wow.

And then shortly after, I saw this quote:

“Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.”
Isaac Watts

Putting the two together, I have decided something.  I think the quote needs to be tweaked a little.  I think the word “learning” needs to be replaced with the word “remembering.”  It’s remembering to trust that needs work, wouldn’t you say?

Let me tell ya a little about myself.  I may just possibly be the most suspicious, non-trusting, skeptical person you’ll ever meet on the planet.  Oh, it’s true.  And I don’t just mean about the big stuff (relationships and whatnot).  No, I mean about everything.

My kids tell me they’ve had a good day at school?  I wonder what part they’re not really telling me.

Someone does something nice for me?  I wonder what’s really in it for them.

My coworker says she has a stomach ache?  I think she’s just looking for attention.

Oh yeah, it’s that bad.  Basically, I’m a jerk.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  Eventually, I believe what I’m told.  Eventually.  But that first, initial gut reaction?  Disbelief.  Non-trust.  Skepticism.  And if it’s like this about something as stupid as a coworker’s stomach ache, then you know it has to be bad with matters of the heart, right?

Now, why am I like this?  Why does that picture above describe me (and probably you too, if you’re honest) to a tee?….

Hell, I don’t know.

What?  You were wanting some deep-seated answer to the burning question of why people are so jaded?  Well, you’re not going to get it from me.  In fact, if you figure it out, please write a blog yourself and I’ll post it on here.  I’d be interested in reading it, along with the millions of other people who are exactly like me (and you know it!).  Oh, now I could come up with a million excuses if you really want me to.  I can tell you about the times I’ve been lied to over the years or the times I’ve been heartbroken over believing something to be true that wasn’t.  Blah, blah, blah.  But you know what else I can tell you?  I can tell you the times that I have lied to others.  The times that I have broken someone’s heart.  If I take the time to start telling you about being jaded because of what was done to me, I need to be fair and tell you about the times that I’ve been the one doing the jading myself.  It’s only fair.  What I’m trying to say is that I can’t sit here and blame others for making me who I am.  I’m just like them.  They are just human, and so am I.

No, I can’t pin this on someone else.  I have to accept the blame.  I have to realize that I have allowed myself to become like the last person in that picture up there.  No one else did this – I did it.  And it’s time to stop.

So, back to the quote.  Like the picture illustrates, we are born with this innocent goodness, or naivety if you will.  We start out filled with unlimited amounts of love and trust for everyone around us, because we just truly just didn’t know any better.  Years ago, I remember standing at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington with my friend, Nathan.  As we were looking down over the top, we started a conversation about the fear of heights.  About how this fear has to be learned.  We mused about the certain fact that if a newborn baby were held over the edge of this massive structure, it wouldn’t know any better than to coo and sleep or smile or drool or whatever the heck it was already doing before it was suspended 600+ feet above the ground.  It wouldn’t have learned fear at that point.  Until you have fallen, or seen someone else fall, you can’t know that it would hurt to do so.  Right?

Well, we aren’t newborn babies.  And each and every one of us has fallen.

And it hurt.

It’s only natural to be more careful of the fall now, right?  But here’s the deal.  If you never climb up that high again, you’ll never get the opportunity to see all the beautiful sights that can only be seen from that height.  Sure, you are 100% certain to never fall if you never climb, but rather than refusing to climb altogether, how about just taking a look around for a second.  See the guard rails.  The safety nets.  The many, many that have gone before you and haven’t fallen.  Sure, there’s a chance that you could fall anyway. I know that.  But you have to ask yourself – is it really worth it to stand on the ground and miss what everyone else is up there seeing?

Is it?

“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.”
Frank Crane

Yeah.  That.

Stop blaming others.  Ok?  Recognize that the fear exists because you allow it to.  Start making choices today to help undo the damage that you have caused yourself.  Life’s too short for anything else, isn’t it?

Come with me, and let’s climb up there and take a look around, ok?  There is sooo much to see.

Ready?

***

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
– Ernest Hemingway