I am a shitty friend.
Before you message me to confirm or deny this assessment, let me delve a bit deeper.
Yesterday, I launched “Be Less Of a Butt Face.” I started the page almost on a whim. A fellow blogger posted “you should make that a slogan,” or something of the like. That idea coupled with a few additional positive comments, and I was on my way to yet another project without thinking.
That’s how I do things. Today, I woke up and thought “Ok, what can I do to be less of a butt face today?” I decided to start a food drive where I would encourage people to collect any items in their pantry they had doubles of, and give them to a local food bank. I didn’t stop to think about my time commitment or what details would be involved. I just committed to doing it because I thought it was a good idea. That attitude is one of the things I really like about myself. I dive in head first and figure out the rest as I go along.
Sounds great in that context, but as we all know, the universe has a way of balancing itself out. There are only so many hours in the day, so while I may jump right in to volunteer for a charity event, I am the last person who is going to call to see how a friend’s week is going. The challenge for me isn’t how to be more involved in the community. It is how to remain connected on an individual level.
Like many creative types, I tend to have intense relationships. I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. If I meet you and like you, I’m going to REALLY like you. We’re going to hang out all the time, become enmeshed in each other’s lives, become inseperable. Most friendships cannot handle that kind of intensity. It’s like if you are running a marathon and instead of pacing yourself to complete the distance, you just say “fuck it” and sprint through the first mile, leaving no reserves to finish the race.
Most of my closest friendships have undergone a period where we did’t speak- not a week or two, but for years. It is kind of strange. I think we find our paths back to each other because that intensity formed a bond that is unbreakable. When I wasn’t in contact with those people, I just didn’t feel right- there was a piece missing. How can the same thing that makes the relationship unbreakable be the very thing that causes it almost to break?
I have a few exceptions to this rule- my brothers and my husband. Of course, they are all family, and that makes it a bit easier. But I was talking with my husband about this subject today, and he asked why our relationship was different. I thought about it and it is because Ben does not fuel my drama. With him, I can relax. I can simply be. This sort of internal conversation I’m having would never even occur to him. He just is who he is and is comfortable in that. He is also unlikely to reciprocate my intensity. I have had boyfriends in the past whose personalities matched my own. We would just feed off of each other- our emotions, good and bad, were constantly escalating. There was no safe harbor to regroup.
Ben put out the theory that I create drama within my friendships, because I do not have drama with him, and I need it somewhere. This is most likely true. Just yesterday, I was talking to a friend about how guilt is one of my defining characteristics. If I resolve guilt about one occurrence, I will quickly find another to replace it. The same could be said for drama. I try to fuel my need for drama with projects, but sometimes I subconsciously crave the emotional charge of interacting with another person.
So what does any of this have to do with anything, other than me writing a horribly self indulgent blog post? Well, I’ve been thinking about this butt face thing. What it’s really asking me to do is to make little changes to make myself a better person. For me, many of those little changes involve my interactions with people who are close to me. But my real question is, do I challenge myself to do things that are out of my character, but that might make me a better person? Or do I accept myself as I am?
Over the course of becoming a mommy, I lost a very close friend. To make a long story short, our paths diverged drastically once I had kids. I think it is something that naturally occurs- our interests became different, our level of interaction decreased. I don’t think it was either of our faults, but there were certainly instances where I could have handled it better.
Social media certainly played a part in the most juvenile of ways. We had a major falling out, but did not want to “unfriend” each other. So every time she went out, or had a party, or did something fun, I knew about it and knew I wasn’t invited. Channeling my inner seventh grader, I would look at her profile, see what she was up to, and feel horrible for not being included.
We somehow found our way back together, but it was never the same. I tried to do all the things she needed a friend to do- go out more, call more often, remember things that she had talked about. I did these things not because I wanted to, but because I knew she wanted me to and I wanted to be the type of friend she needed. Because she deserved it. She’s a great friend and deserves someone like her.
But all the while, it felt unnatural and we both knew it. Another fall out was inevitable. When it happened, this time, I did not want to have a front row seat to her life that I was not a part of. I am the type of person who confronts things head on. This has also been known to cause me some problems, because I just blurt out whatever is on my mind to whoever is listening, without necessarily questioning how my words will make them feel. Instead of quietly blocking her or unfriending her, I sent her a message suggesting we unfriend each other and save ourselves the pain. You can imagine what that was met with.
When I found Mom friends, I felt like I found the exact type of relationship I needed. We would meet and have intense, emotionally charged conversations. We spoke in verbal vomit- just words pouring from our mouths without stopping. But when we’d leave, there was no obligation to check in with each other. We all knew our free time was limited. If I didn’t have time to call or needed to cancel a meeting, it wasn’t a big deal. It just went with the territory of parenthood and not knowing what curveballs would be thrown into our daily schedules. The friendships were no less strong or powerful than ones I had engaged in with other women, but the level of duty was lessened. I felt like I could truly be myself.
But right now, the easy path of my mom friendships is diverging. Our schedules no longer match up. Our kids go to different preschools. We used to spend a good deal of time together, because we all had a certain span during the day where we had to keep our children entertained. Now, we are rushing to get our tasks done before we have to pick up the kids from class and head home for lunch/naps. Where it was once so easy to hang out, we are now having to make actual time for each other- something that is not always doable. I miss the easy times when we used to hang out. I grew dependent on those interactions. Many days, they were my sanity savers. I now worry that those distances are getting greater and greater.
Today, I started thinking about that friend I gave up on. Had I devoted time to her the way I donate time to food drives, writing projects, making movies, completing crafts, and a host of other activities, would we still be friends? And more importantly should I devote time in that manner?
What I hate to admit is that the projects make me happy, and the friendship was making me miserable. I kind of want to delete that right now. I hate to admit it. It is a weird cycle. Right now, I am involved in so many projects she would have loved. She would have been 100% on board, and maybe we would have found that connection that bridged the gap between our different lifestyles. But would I have ever gotten the chance to do the things I’m doing now had I still been putting energy into making our friendship work? I don’t know. I know that I miss her. I miss what she would have brought to the table. I hate that I hurt this person who tried so hard to be a good friend to me.
How does one rise to the challenge of being a better person, while also accepting herself, flaws and all? Yeah, I know this is a crazy, too personal, self important rant, but sometimes that’s what’s one my mind. And if you are my friend, you know I have zero control not talking about what’s going on in my head.