Re-evaluating

Okay. I said I was going to be honest in this blog. I also said I was going to do my best to be diplomatic, because sometimes people that I would write about might be reading this, or people who would know them might be reading this.

Sometimes, those two goals are mutually exclusive.

In this post, I am going to do my best to be honest. There will still be points where I will feel the need to disguise some facts, and I’m resigned to that, but in general, I’m going to just lay out how I feel.

 

On one birthday, when I was maybe 11 or 12, I think — I’m never too sure about what ages correspond with what memories — I had several friends stay the night at my house. It was the guys’ equivalent of a slumber party, I guess. I think we just called them sleepovers.

I think I had six guests. And I distinctly remember that for over an hour at one point, four of them were playing on one video game system, and two of them were playing on another — and that was the maximum number of players for either system. I was basically left out of my own party for a while.

Another time, later in high school, I made the discovery that several of my friends were regularly getting together to hang out, and they never invited me. I never confronted them about it to find out why I wasn’t invited. I just assumed that they had their reasons. On my happier days, I assumed that the reason was just something like they lived near each other and it just kind of happened, or they had a shared interest in something that I wouldn’t have enjoyed anyway, like basketball games. On my more depressed days, I assumed that the reason was simply that I’ve never been very good at being a friend, and they were tired of dealing with it.

Since I’m being honest here: I never have been that good at being a friend. If I know you well, I assume that you’re happy with where the relationship is, and I don’t tend to put effort into it. If I know you moderately, I don’t think to ask you about what’s going on in your personal life, and if you tell me, I may or may not remember it the next time we meet. I have had people that I considered to be pretty good friends that would be very disappointed to learn that I had trouble remembering things that were very important to them, like that their father was very sick or that they were unemployed or possibly moving to another state. I don’t know why I have so much trouble remembering things that are important in other peoples’ lives. It’s one of my least favorite qualities about myself.

So recently, I’ve been re-evaluating my friendships. Specifically, I’ve been trying to ask myself: Is the way that I have been treating this relationship accurate for the type of relationship that it actually is?

And I have to say that I have not been pleased with myself for the results.

For me, a key point in starting to re-evaluate these friendships came when we had our delayed baby shower. As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, Sage was born nearly five weeks early. The friend who was hosting the baby shower had to redo her plans entirely, and we agreed on a post-birth baby shower. It was primarily for ComedySportz people. Probably fifty or sixty people (not counting the hosts or my family) were invited, if I remember correctly.

Three people sent word that they couldn’t make it. Another two told me after the fact why they couldn’t be there. A sixth person couldn’t make it, but sent a lovely gift.

Other than that, two guests showed up.

Now, I had a fantastic time. The small group made for more intimate conversation, which I really did appreciate. But where was the rest of my ComedySportz “family?”

Had I burned that many bridges without knowing it? Was I just not aware that those bridges were never there in the first place? Could I blame it on the fact that a post-birth baby shower is untraditional, and that just threw people off? I hoped it was the latter; I feared the first two were true.

I’m not mad at anyone but myself for this. I struggle to understand a lot of people’s relationships, and as such I often find myself in odd relationships with people where I think we’re really good friends, but they don’t — or vice versa. I’m not even mad at myself for that — I’m mad that I let myself fall into this trap over and over, where I start to get upset that I feel neglected by my friends… and I then have to acknowledge that (a) if anyone should know about neglecting friendships, it would be me, and (b) the odds are at least reasonable that I had mis-judged the closeness of the friendship.

I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m not asking anyone to suggest ways I could try to make deeper friendships. And I am CERTAINLY not asking anyone to tell me why they didn’t come to Sage’s baby shower, so please don’t think I’m trying to get sympathy or to make anyone feel bad. I am writing this because I wonder: does anyone ever know for sure if their friendships are real? Am I in the minority, struggling with this? Or is it pretty universal and I’m just very aware of it recently?

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Personal History, Thinky Thoughts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Re-evaluating

  1. Mia says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the baby shower and am very glad that I was able to attend. I consider you and Ann very good friends and CSz family. I don’t know what happened to people that day, but I really don’t think it had anything to do with anyone not wanting to be there. But, I don’t know all of the answers, that is for sure. I do know that in my own life I have discovered that I have valued certain friendships/relationships way more than has been reciprocated. I know that I am a very emotional person and I think it has something to do with that. Some people care way more deeply than others and I think it has a lot to do with the way we are raised. My Grandma was an easy crier and so are we all in my Mother’s family.

    I think you are a good person and a good friend.

    Sigh.

    • strangedavid says:

      I loved having you there! And you may well be right — it may not have had anything to do with people not wanting to be there. And I appreciate that you think I’m a good friend; I genuinely do try to be but I don’t usually have a lot of success at remembering to try. (If that makes sense.)

      I’m not sure if I’ve drawn the distinction that I intended to draw. It’s not that I think people are walking around saying, “Oh, that Strange — I really just don’t want to hang out with him.” I don’t think it’s that at all. Very few people actually dislike me (at least that I’m aware of). I think it’s much more likely that I haven’t formed the relationships I thought I had, and so I am just not on people’s minds.

      I’ve rewritten that last paragraph several times, and it still doesn’t sound right. I’m not trying to play a sympathy card here; I’m not trying to say, “Oh, poor me, nobody ever even thinks of me.” What I’m trying to say is: there’s an old saying I remember hearing as a kid, that if you wanted to HAVE a friend, you had to BE a friend — and I’m staring to question if I have been enough of a friend to others to actually form the friendships that I thought I had formed. Maybe the friendships that I thought were so effortless were effortless because they really weren’t friendships; or maybe the ones I haven’t tried to cultivate have withered away. Maybe between my confusion about normal interactions and my tendency to not remember details from others’ personal stories — maybe with all of that, I have not been the friend that I thought I was, and in return, have not formed the friendships that I thought I had.

      I’m not saying I’m friendless. I know there are people who absolutely count me among their top ten favorite people. And I’m content with that. What I’m aiming at is that I’m at a place in my life where I have to re-evaluate a lot of my friendships to try to figure out: (a) have I done enough to really call this a friendship? (b) am I assuming a level of caring from the other person that I should not assume? (c) is this relationship worth fostering further? (d) how can I be sure of the answers to any of these?

  2. Helloheather says:

    I’m not sure what’s universal. But I very frequently wonder if I like people more than they like me. In my darker moments, I convince myself that it’s surely true. I try really hard not to pay attention to the number of times any one person reaches out to ME to get together, compared to the number I times I reach out to THEM. I try to just chalk it up to, “some people reach out more than others. Some people are callers, and letter-senders, and party-throwers. Some are just kind of not. It’s not a direct correlation to how much they like you.”

    For example, I have some friendships that are very valuable to me, in which I drop the ball CONSTANTLY in terms of actual communication. I feel really bad about that. It makes me think I’m sending the message that I don’t like that person as much as they like me, when I DO. I know I do.

    Sometimes, the other person’s communication style is kind of annoying, or boring. Then, even if I really like them a lot, I get frustrated when trying to interact with them. That’s hard. And kind of weird. I end up thinking, “I like you a TON, but you sort of annoy me, so I avoid talking to you or always arrange communication on my terms.” Like I said, that’s a weird sort of way to feel. But it happens. I’m not sure what kind of message it sends. Probably not a very great one.

    I think….I think I think I think…that friendships are for real if they last for a long time. Or, maybe, it’s that friendships that last for a long time are the ones that matter most to me. I think, when you have a history with someone, it gives the relationship strength. Strength to get through the times when you annoy each other, or you drop the ball in communication, or you disagree over something important. If you (plural, the friends) run into those kinds of obstacles, and find yourselves still wanting to be friends with each other, and you move past the obstacles, or learn to live with or deal with the obstacles, then that’s a sign that it’s a valuable friendship. Does that make sense? I can only assume that my long-term friends have made allowances for me, because they like me despite my flaws.

    I feel like this is kind of a disjointed response. Sorry about that. But I have a lot of things to say and I want to say them before I forget them (or forget to respond entirely!)

    Yes, I think many people are insecure in their friendships.

    Yes, I think I, and other people, drop the ball sometimes, or don’t put in the effort equal to how much we value the friendship. Yes, that is sort of a sucky habit. I think I (we) could do better.

    I think that it’s worth it to put more effort into the relationships that are most valuable to you.

    I feel like I have more profound stuff to say, but I can’t quite think of it. So I’ll end. 🙂

    I think you’re an incredibly interesting person, and I really like being friends with you. I think about you and Ann and Sage daily. Not, like, sitting around pining for you, daydreaming about you all, exactly. But you absolutely do all cross my thoughts every day. It’s kind of like this, in my brain, “Dave…office…Dave doesn’t like his job…Dave writes…Ann…old house…new house…Ann works with her folks…Ann and Dave go to restaurants…I would like some interesting food…Baby Sage…wears pink stuff…getting big!…new house…Indianapolis…wish I could see them…when can I see them?…not soon enough…” I think about all of you a lore more than I communicate with you. I wish I got to see you all more often.

  3. Helloheather says:

    TRUST. That’s what I forgot to say. In my darker moments I worry that others don’t like me as much as I like them. But I have to TRUST that they do. And if they stick around long term, then that helps. But there’s something necessary about giving up control and trusting that the other person returns your affections. Like, you can’t ever KNOW FOR SURE, really, whether or not you match up perfectly in how much you like each other. So trust plays a big role.

    This makes a lot more sense, and sounds a lot more profound, in my head.

  4. sinwi says:

    I am a horrible communicator. Not good on initiating e-mails or phone calls. Not for any lack of desire or avoidance, I just seem to focus on where I am and what I am doing. And I do hope that people don’t interpret that as a lack of liking…

    Like Heather, I think of you guys and my other long distance friends a lot. And wish that we were closer so that we could see each other more often.

    I am also not good at going out and making new friends. I guess when I say I’m not good at it, it is that I don’t do it at all. Friendly w/ people that I know at work, volunteering, church, but never think to ask if they want to go out to grab some coffee, have a play date w/ the kids, etc. Doesn’t even occur to me. Is that due to some teenage based fear that people are just being polite, but wouldn’t want to actually socialize w/ me? Or is it b/c that is how my parents are? I’m not even good at communicating w/ my siblings… and I really like them!

    But I do hope that my true friends know that this is me, and that I do care wildly about them, and miss them even though I don’t reach out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s