Friday, October 14, 2011

Why is this friendship thing so hard?

I happened across this post that I started back in March and find the subject still screaming at me loudly. I guess that means it is time to address it. Somehow spitting these things out on "paper" helps me sort through them in my mind. So here it goes...

Friendship is so complicated. So full of emotions and expectations and evolutions. I WANT it to always be effortless and sweet and mutually fulfilling. I don't want much, do I?

In a world of limited time and energy, I find that I am needing to modify my "friend list". I want to stop wasting time and energy on people I don't enjoy. I want to focus on the friendships I deeply value, some old and some new. I am just not exactly sure how to cut through the rest. "The rest" aren't necessarily bad people. I just want to focus on feeding the good parts of me and certain people are better at helping me do that than others.

I was recently talking to a long-time friend about losing Laurel. He didn't know her well (friends from different life seasons), and I was trying to identify what it was about her that had such a profound effect on me. What came out was that she just was so good at helping me be more of what *I* wanted to be. She made me stop and think about what was at the core of me and what I wanted and then nudged me down that path without judgment or argument. She just made me want to live a bigger life and be a better me. I haven't ever met anyone else who was quite as good at that as she was. I miss knowing that she has my back.

Which brings me to the "seasonal" nature of friendship. The friendships that develop because of an association in time or place are quite disturbing to me in a lot of ways. I tend to bond intensely and then mourn the loss of that bond as time and/or distance erodes it. Not to say that all of those friendships disappear or even really lessen, but the evolution of the nature of the bond is hard for me to handle. It makes me feel like a failure. Like I haven't done enough to nurture the friendships that are/were so valuable to me. Or, even worse, like I picked badly when I realize it is time for me to let a friendship go - that the "season" has passed and for one reason or another that particular friendship is no longer valuable to me. It is hard to let go.

So I guess the deal is this...I need to figure out a way to draw those people that feed my soul closer to me and cut the others loose. And then in return, I need to figure out how to help those people become more of who they want to be. Because Laurel taught me that THAT is the kind of friend I want to be. Now to figure out how to accomplish that.

Why is this friendship thing so hard?


Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Great post, Kara.

Last year, I had to let loose two toxic, emotionally unstable friends. Their actions left me thinking heavily on what the definition of a friend is supposed to be.

As you know, I also lost a friend this summer. My friend Jolene never hesitated to call me on my shit. But she was never disrespectful or hurtful to me. She never played games and she was always direct. Trust me, you knew exactly what Jolene Bushnell was thinking. Hee! :-) However, most importantly, I knew that she was direct with me because she cared about me. She did not have an ulterior agenda.

I have had to do a lot of soul-searching for what I am looking for in friendship. And ultimately, I decided to concentrate on the friends who bring positive influence in my life, rather than those who hatefully bait and goad under the guise of "thoughtful debate".

As you and I are painfully, acutely aware -- life truly is too short.

Debi said...

Because you care so deeply. Because you love so honestly. Because the thought of hurting someone goes against every fiber of your being.

But Kara, dear sweet Kara, I think your decision is absolutely, positively the right one. Of course, "right" doesn't equal "easy." Oh sweetie, life is so short, and you owe it to yourself to make it the best it can be. (And sheesh, do I need to remember that myself!)

You know, you really shouldn't feel that "you picked badly," because letting someone into your life is always a gamble. It's an exercise in trust. We don't have crystal balls. If we don't open to the door to friendship to start with, we'll never know who those are that can influence our life for the better. I understand completely what you mean when you say it makes you feel like "a failure" but I think it's a feeling we have to fight, because realistically, it's just. not. true.

You know, I've been avoiding the internet like the plague lately. Not because I've wanted to avoid people so much as I've really just been trying to "get myself right in the head" if you know what I mean. Anyway, something just made me want to check your blog tonight, hoping you'd posted something in the last week or so. I'm so glad I did. Because once again, I get to tell you what an amazing person you are. You really, truly are, Kara. And you are making a very good decision.

Love you.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I shared this on my Google Reader as well. In particular, I loved this:

I need to figure out a way to draw those people that feed my soul closer to me and cut the others loose. And then in return, I need to figure out how to help those people become more of who they want to be.

That is the definition of friendship right there, Kara. Something I am still working on myself -- how to find good ones and how to be a better one myself.

Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself today with us. You're good people. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Kara, you are a wise and wonderful friend. You speak such truth here. I choose to surround myself with people who are not only fun to be with but who inspire me by being something different/better/more than I am. You, I am honored to say, are included there. Miss you and hope to see you soon.

kreed said...

Thanks, all! As usual, I am uplifted by all the nice comments on my whiny blog post! Love to you all, and Anonymous, even though I can't figure out who you are, I am glad you are my friend!:)

Marathon Mom said...

Very thoughtful post, Kara. And I agree that it is hard to let those "seasonal" friendships go. When I have a big history with a friend I have a hard time letting it go, I also feel like a failure. But we have and will encounter many friendships during different seasons of our lives and things change and I've recently decided to also surround myself mostly with friends where there is a MUTUAL give and take and investment in the friendship. Thanks for sharing this.