Friday, June 17, 2011

Something's Missing

I have a confession. I don't know how to make friends. I mean, it's easy in theory, right? You find someone with whom you have something in common, and you pursue friendship. You exchange phone numbers, make arrangements to hang out, share things you like... and if you're lucky the other person will be into it too.

Here's the thing though. I don't know if I've ever really had a true friend. Maybe when I was a kid, but as an adult? I feel like most of the people that I've let in and thought were my friends have all eventually let me down. Either something big happened that ended the friendship, or I realized that it was very one sided, or both. I'm kind of lonely.

Aw hell. Now I'm crying like a fool. I suck.

I guess I'm just feeling down lately. I've been having the feeling that I want to entertain lately. That was a big part of the reason why I wanted out of the apartment; there was really no space there to have people over. The thing is though that I'm afraid. I'm afraid that if I invite people over they will say no. Or even worse, they'll say yes then cancel at the last minute. Did you know that is one of the things that I hate worst on this Earth? I don't want to invite people over too far in advance of a certain date, because I don't want them to have time to have something better come up, and cancel on me at the last minute after I've already spent time and energy preparing for them. I also don't want to invite them too close to a certain date because they may already have plans. I certainly don't want to make that certain date an Important Date, such as a holiday, because sure someone else will have something more fun/exciting going on than I will and people would rather go to that.

No one is going to want to come to my party because I don't have a pool, I don't have a grill, I don't have lawn games, I don't have and can't afford large amounts of alcohol...

I do have "friends." Those people who I've known for years, who I worked with, who I hang out with during football season on Sundays. The people who come to my kid's birthday party. The people with whom I've rung in countless New Years. They're just not the people who I would call to chat for no reason, and they wouldn't just drop by my house on any random day for a visit though.

You know what I would be happy with? Just one good friend. One who not only I can call without worry whenever, wherever, but one who will call me too. And not just when they want to bitch about something, or everything, but just to hang out and spend time together for no reason at all. Someone who I can tell anything, and they can tell me anything. A real and true best friend.

I thought I had a best friend. I thought I had someone like that. Looking back, I didn't. I couldn't call her whenever, because she was always too busy, or had to clean her house, or do school work, or was with her boyfriend. If she called me, it was to complain about her job, her mom (she lived with her), her relationship. My problems were insignificant and unimportant compared to hers. On the rare occasions we spent time together, just the two of us, she spent the entire time on her Blackberry, texting her boyfriend, her mom, her friends from work.

More often than not, she was too busy to spend time with me. I lived too far out of her way, even though she drove past my house to see her boyfriend and stay the night with him four or five nights a week. If I invited her over for dinner, she was always too tired, or had plans, or was on some weird diet and couldn't eat my cooking. A couple of times, when I asked if she wanted to hang out, she told me she wanted to see if her work friends were doing anything "fun" and she'd get back to me. I always had to call her, I had to be the one to go see her, I had to be the one to do the work if I wanted the privilege of being her friend.

I've spent a lifetime feeling like a bother. I was a bother to my mother, to my teachers, to the other kids at school who were always older and cooler than me because I had skipped a grade. I've always felt like an afterthought, someone to be squeezed in at the last minute, someone to be pitied because I wasn't as cool, or as pretty, or as fun as the other girls. Someone who people hung out with because their moms made them. I was too young, too nerdy, not ever good enough.

After I had Bubba I joined a playgroup so that I could get to meet other moms. I thought that if I found a group of women that were of a similar age and station of life that I was it would increase the odds of friendships being formed. In the two years that I've belonged to the group, I've seen that my initial thought was correct - friendships have been formed, just not with me. All my life that is the story. Friendships are always formed, but not with me. I always walk home alone.

I know a lot of it is my own fault. I'm afraid to reach out. When I do, and I fail, it feels like that failure just gets added to that lifetime heap of other failures and it makes me want to retreat all over again. I had my first play date here a few weeks back. The day before it happened there were seven people and two maybes scheduled to show. I was so excited! Then only two showed up. I was grateful for the two, but still, I felt like a failure. It's like I'm five and no one wanted to come to my party and even though I'm 33 going on 34 it still freaking hurts.

I've told people to let me know when they want to get together, that I'll come to their house if they want, call me if you need anything, just let me know! Do you know how often the words "I'm always home" are typed or spoken by me? Yet, no one calls, no one asks, and so I drop it.

I'm lonely. I just want one friend, just one true friend. I don't think I'm asking for too much. I kills me that I was in the hospital for over a week last fall and when I got home, I had three, count them THREE notifications on Facebook. THREE, after an entire week. Not one was anybody asking what had happened to me, or where I was. Not one person missed me.

I'm scared to call people, because I don't want to bother them. I can't call during the day because they're at work. I can't call after work, because they need a chance to unwind. I can't call in the early evening, because they may be eating dinner. I can't call after dinner, because they may be trying to watch their favorite tv show. I can't call later because they'll probably be in bed because they have to work tomorrow. In my mind, everyone else has more important lives, more important jobs, less free time, more people who are priority above me, and better things to do. I'm so scared to be a bother, to the point it paralyzes me sometimes. I just don't call. Therefore, no one calls me either. I know it goes both ways.

I know that nobody wants to read a whiny "woe is me" type missive as they go through their daily blog reading. Unfortunately, when the blog is a journal that's what you get sometimes. I just have been thinking so much about this lately and I had to get it off my chest. I'm supposed to have a support system in place but right now, it starts and ends with my husband. That makes me sad.



Blogger Kellee said...

I'm sorry.

Sadly, I'm much older than you and in pretty much the same situation...except I work and have "friends" there (I never see them outside of work though). And my kids are grown so I don't have the opportunity to meet friends through them any more.

It really sucks to not have a girlfriend to go shopping with, meet for coffee, or to just have come over to talk now and then.


1:45 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

I'm in pretty much the same situation. It is really hard to put yourself out there. And seriously we just bought a bigger house, the neighbors call it the party house and the only people I know to invite are 2 year olds. Its sad, but I have to laugh.
One thing that has been promising for me is kind of moms club related. I do gymboree 1x a week with Samantha. It happens to end near lunchtime and a group of women happened to include me on a lunch invitation. We've started to get closer and hang out separately as a result. So, that's one idea that might work for you. If you have a mom's event near lunch maybe you could invite people back to your place or go to a restaurant.
But I do feel your pain. I'm grateful to have a sister I can always call, but it's not the same because she's so far away. Don't give up - keep trying!

4:10 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

You know - I have this issue about making friends locally. In HS or College it was so easy! You could run into a girl at work, class, party etc and just be friendly and then you'd end up hanging out. But in this new adult real world, women don't seem to want to break up their tight-knit groups and become tight with someone new. It's almost like it's too late :( But I know it's not!

5:43 AM  
Blogger Jeff B. said...

It feels a bit odd to acknowledge it, but I find this entry comforting. Not schadenfreude, but empathy. Your situations may be different, but I have felt quite the same. I believe many of us feel this way, as a part of modern society still searching for a balance between digital and actual friendships. I had to laugh at your delayed-invitation logic because I honestly thought I was one of maybe a handful of people in the world who would even attempt to micromanage life in such a manner. Today I feel a little less crazy and a bit more normal. Thanks! LOL If you ever move to our area, you'll already have friends here. Until we make it to Texas, of course.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

I totally get it, though in a slightly different way. Growing up, I moved frequently enough that I always managed to have a lot of friends but never a "best friend". I remember that even being my birthday wish in 6th grade. Now? I was always the "life of the party" type. Going out a lot, lots of people to go out with, but never actually had people that I just hung out with or talked to. And then I moved to a new state, got married, had a kid, and my bar-hopping days are a thing of the past. I have NO idea how to make "grown-up" friends that I can just call, or what I'd even do with them. So, 4 years after I moved to PA? Still pretty lonely...

7:19 AM  
Blogger Lindsay Teague Moreno said...

Sara. I'm sorry you're sad.

Really, I think you're over-thinking this (which leads to social awkwardness and unneeded pressure). You're right, I think you're going to have to make the first step in an effort to find true friends because after college, they're hard to make. There's just not that much of a chance and lives do get busy. (I met Sam when we were older and I just immediately put myself out to trying to be her friend repeatedly because I knew I liked her...I almost forced myself on her). You have a lot to bring to the table though. You're smart and dedicated. You need to find the kind of people YOU want to be good friends with and just go for it. Realize that your "baggage" is part of the package and be confident in yourself as a person. You have to believe you're worth the time and energy to be friends with (which I'm not much hearing in this post). Maybe find a meet-up group with similar interests outside of kids. You can do it. You're worth the effort of a friendship, you gotta believe it and radiate that. just be you.


8:05 AM  
Blogger Karen Jerread said...

Maybe all of us that don't have "close" friend ought to form a little group of simply friends. I bet it would grow to an amazingly large size quickly.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

I could have written parts of this word by word. I am the last single girl in my group of friends. I spend so many weekend nights at home by myself, because thy are all doing things with their husbands/boyfriends/families, and my one closest friend, one that I would consider my best friend, us going through an anti-social phase and doesn't want to go out & do stuff, she'd rather just go eat & see a movie, not really interact with others . If I'm lucky, I get to spend time with some of them on weeknights. But that's pretty much it. Sometimes I get so lonely that it physically hurts.

The only thing I can think of to somewhat fix this is to get some new single friends to do stuff with. But I'm in a town of less than 25,000, a college town. And being 30, I don't exactly fit well with the college kids. :-) so where does one go to find new friends? Wish I could figure that out too. My church is somewhat limited (mostly either older or younger congregation).
So I am also stuck. Stuck with no social life, bored out of my mind... If you get any ideas, let me know :-)

9:04 AM  
Blogger Connie said...

You are not the only person who feels this way. I know you wrote this as a journal-type entry and not for affirmation (my blog is like my journal also) however I am very sincere in my comment. I'm 34 going on 35 and am in the exact same place. I know that I don't need millions of buddies, but like you, I would love to have one good friend to call on. Thanks for your willingness to be so open. It's a help to those who are struggling with the same kinds of things.

9:30 AM  
Blogger em said...

It's closest friends are not the ones I hang out with often in real life, who live in my town. Instead they are people who live nearby (within a couple hours) who I met on the internet. I have friends here, but it's funny that the best ones are the ones who knew my personality before they ever knew "me". I think the people I see often don't even know the true me. You'll find friends! It's just persistent, someone nearby will be looking just like you are!

9:40 AM  
Blogger Susanne P. said...

This post makes me sad. I'm sorry that you are hurting. I know how you feel sometimes. I would totally be your bestie if we lived close. It stinks feeling lonely, I know. I have often thought that after my kids are out of the house I would move to live by Danea. I'm not just saying this; you CAN call me anytime.

10:30 AM  
Blogger niki said...

I appreciate you being real, if someone doesn't want to read a woe is me post than they can move on but I some of us do because it helps us to realize we're not the only ones. I tend to be lurker on blogs and stuff because pretty much the reason you have listed here. I'm trying to break away from that but it's hard. I know its not the same thing but I feel like I am trying to build online friends because I have problems finding friends IRL. The few I have seem to be on different schedules or have their own friends or whatever. Wow, well obviously this hit home with me and now I am I will just shut up now!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Muffy said...

I often feel the same way dear! It DOES feel good to know we're not alone (as evidenced by all the comments above mine!).

I think that's one reason I love blogging so much. It puts me in touch with so many lovely people (LIKE YOU) that otherwise I'd never have known. Blogging is so comforting. There ARE people like us out there!

Great post!


3:20 PM  
Blogger Katy Cameron said...

I was reading this post at lunchtime at work, and it totally brought me down to earth with a bump. I could have written large chunks of it. At uni I had a big group of friends because I was in the rowing club and we all hung out, but then we left, and everyone scattered. I had such a low paying job I couldn't afford to go out, so the few people still around didn't ask me, and no-one ever offered any alternatives. I've always been the one calling people and never receiving anything back.

Even after I moved on to a better paying job where I could meet more people my own age, I still didn't really have good friends, just a few people I'd hang out with after work on occasions. I had one guy who totally messed with my head for over 5 years, who has just finally announced that he's gay, and I can't even respond to his e-mail about wanting to stay friends now because he used me completely to hide behind for all those years as and when it was convenient for him, and ensured no guys we ever worked with were interested in me either, making it seem like we were together, or at least that he had 'dibs'.

I'm now 33, I've tried online dating, tried new hobbies more than once, but everyone already has their little groups, and don't seem to be taking in new members :o( It's exhausting trying, but i'm determined to persevere, just not sure where to try next!

Sadly almost all of my friends are online, but really, I only say sadly because I can't physically hang out with them. I can talk, laugh, cry and vent, but it's just not the same as being able to sit there and see them and hug them. We really just need someone to invent touchy feely computers ;o)


4:40 PM  
Blogger Olivia said...

I feel this way a lot of the time. But, like Lindsay mentioned, you just have to put yourself out there and let the little kid in you go. I know this is a hard thing to do because I've had to do it myself. I have my fair share of issues and baggage but they make me who I am, and although I don't leave them out for everyone to all the time, I never try to hide them. At 34, I've realized I am who I am, people will like me or they won't and I'm okay with either scenario. You do have a lot to offer and perhaps you're just looking in the wrong place. And, just so you know, I missed you last fall when you were sick.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Maggi said...

I'm your friend. Two reasons why I don't reach out more: I live kinda-sorta far away, and I have many of the same insecurities you do, so I always feel like a bother. I can so commiserate with just about everything you've said, though. Hugs.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Paula - Buenos Aires said...

Oh, darling! It´s so sad to see you sad and not knowing what I can do to help. {big hug}
And now the autobiographical bit: Ten years ago I was where you are. I´m not there any more. Can´t really say exactly how that happened but it did. It was a slow process of "getting out there". Things can get better. :)

4:12 PM  
Blogger Dorie said...

Oh Sara! I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. I always tell my daughter (who's 23 and is struggling to find a "real" friend) how rare it seems for us woment to find that "best" friend. Ugh! Why is that? Anyway, when I said I would love to have you come over, I truly meant it:) You gotta start somewhere right? Or I can come to you:) ...and can we pig out on Justin's hazelnut butter?

12:55 PM  

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