Making friends has always been something that has come fairly natural to me.  I’m easygoing, flexible, and nearly always in a good mood.  I interest myself in the passions of others and have often found that just simply listening is often key to maintaining relationships.  I am usually the peacemaker and, even if I feel I am in the right, often back down in order to prevent fracture.

I had a conversation with a friend last night about my forthcoming re-entry into the world of the gainfully employed and the trepidation that comes with my uncertain future.  She said I was one of the most well respected and well liked people she knows, and that my worries are fruitless.  Which all worries are, actually, but that’s not the point.  The point is that my nature and outlook on life reflects positively most of the time.  I truly am rich with friends.

But that’s not what I want to write about.  The thing that bubbles in my mind most often are those friendships and relationships that have NOT gone well.  Some have mended over time; others not.  When I’m alone in my mind with nothing to keep me busy, it seems I always return to these soured friendships.  What went wrong?  What could I have done differently?  Is there any way to patch things now, even if I don’t want to remain a friend?  I don’t like thinking I have ‘enemies’ out there or folks who think ill of me.

I now consider that a weakness.  Why should I care if someone doesn’t think I’m all wine and roses?  People are different and that’s life.  If I dedicate myself to just making others happy, I myself won’t be happy.  One of the things I’ve gained in my travels is a greater sense of self worth and identity.  I see myself approaching relationships in a different light, but not in a bad way.  Just in a more assertive way.  This is fine and good.  I call it progress.  But I do still find myself returning to the collapsed friendships of years past.

So, what’s the deal?  Does this mean I haven’t moved on?  Does this mean I’m a perfectionist and not wired to just let sleeping dogs lie?  As a famous Captain said, ‘As a doctor, you of all people should be aware of the dangers of reopening old wounds.’

It’s just hard to forget the good times, I guess.

3 thoughts on “Friendship

  1. Interesting and enjoyable blog… I started to reply once and had to go back and re-read it because I was too eager to reply and had to give it more thought. I will speak about my own experience in reply, only because I have thought about this a lot, too, and will give you my perspective, as this is all I have! I, too, find myself always fulfilling the role of "listener." Both parties should play the role at different times, but it seems that there are some who describe their role in all of their relationships as "the listener." One thing you said is that in traveling you have gained a greater sense of self-worth. That might be key. This is something that I have always struggled with; and I wonder if this lends to my role as listener, as I don't ever believe that the other person is really as interested in the things that I find important, interesting, or in need of sharing. Perhaps this is something inside of me (maybe I don't believe I'm interesting or worthwhile) and not something that others have taught me. Or maybe it's that I tend to attract people who need a passive friend because they require someone who they can incessantly unload on or they are in need of constant validation. In turn, this enforces my belief. As difficult as it is to find someone who isn't uncomfortable with the pain of others when you need to talk about something painful, it seems to me lately that it is even more difficult to find people who share JOY or will listen to all of the little things that make who we are, who we are. When a relationship starts to deteriorate, that feeling of low self worth might become emphasized, and we feel that we have done something wrong. In not being assertive, sometimes we might get angry with ourselves that we didn't have the sense of self to say who we were and what we thought. If another person ends up rejecting us or ending the friendship, we think, I did everything I could! I listened and listened, was interested in the other person, was never judgmental, and the relationship ended anyway… why??? What did I do wrong? On the other hand, in the moment we might have been thinking that if we spoke up, the relationship would have ended and we didn't want that. Now… my question is: Why WOULD'T we want that? If I couldn't be assertive, suppressed my feeling when I really needed to talk, or smiled and nodded when I was in total disagreement, it wasn't even a friendship! But maybe not having a lot of confidence or self-worth was at the root of that. Maybe there's a little fear in us saying: Even if you have to forget yourself, at least there's someone talking to you, doing things with you, and giving you a sense of being needed and liked. (continued in next comment due to character limit…)

  2. It's a very good thing to become more assertive (no one would ever believe that I'm not assertive but they have no idea what I keep inside!) and is great to hear that you have gained a greater sense of self and self-love. But it will not happen overnight. You might be rejected by someone when you decide to do this, and you know it. And this is hard 😦 You might have to deal with the feeling of knowing that someone became angry at something you said… and this is hard, too. But the scariest thing is, you are letting people really see you for the first time. I liken it to walking into a room stark naked! It's so embarrassing to truly be yourself sometimes – if you believe that who you are is not likable or important. I mean, maybe you know what your good qualities are, but who we are inside is a little different than just a great sense of humor, good listening skills, or being a good conversationalist. Being honest about our feelings means opening ourselves for rejection, something that we apparently fear more than we'd like to admit. But we shouldn't hide. And we shouldn't take it personally when we are rejected. What will slowly happen over time is that we will start attracting people that appreciate our thoughts and feelings and the fact that we were open. Isn't this the kind of friend that we wanted all along? But we have to take that chance to find them. I think it's worth it. But there will be hurt along the way. People might laugh at us, reject us, or discover that if we do not validate them or agree with them, they're not interested. Someone who is really our friend will WANT to hear our thoughts and will be willing to share theirs with us. 🙂 I'm sorry I talked so long. See? There I go, apologizing for sharing my thoughts!!!Sorry for any spelling errors – I didn't have time to proofread!

  3. Spelling errors? THAT'S IT NO MORE FRIENDSHIP!!1Thank you for such a well thought out reply! It's good to know I'm not the only one that goes through these mental exercises. I will re-read this a few times and hold onto it for perspective.

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