Fickle Friend

Friendship Isn’t Easy

We moved a lot during my childhood, and I usually made friends easily, but lost them each time we moved. I would try keeping the friendships up through letters, and that would work for awhile—but never very long. In high school, I went through the typical angst of mean girls hating me one year and offering friendship the next. Girls and their unspoken friendship rules confused me.

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As an adult, I discovered just how fickle friends could act. When I moved to a new job and a new state, I tried to create a new community of friends. I organized pot lucks, invited gals and their families over after church, and got people together for camping trips.

But then a friend (who also happened to work with me) had a problem with something I did. Instead of talking to me (which a true friend would do, right?), she marched in to our boss’s office and demanded that I receive a reprimand (and I got just that—an unjustified slap on the wrist without the benefit of MY side of the story).

Forgettingn to Forgive

For over a year, I smiled politely at her whenever I saw her, but refused all further interaction. Eventually, we resumed our friendship, but on a much more shallow level—I learned that I could never trust her with my full friendship.

I felt burned-out on friendships, but I decided to keep reaching out. I got a group of neighborhood gals together to walk a couple of miles each evening—and we’d chat, share stories and mutually support each other. All of those things that I thought good friends did.

Until one evening, I stopped to see if one friend was ready and another friend walked in right after me—totally ignored me and said to the first friend, “We need to pray.” I joked about already being on my knees and ready to pray, because I happened to be kneeling on the carpet talking with a youngster. Ms. In-Need-Of-Prayer turned me to and said, “Oh, no, I wasn’t talking to you! Mrs. Walking Buddy is my PRAYER PARTNER!” Humiliated, I resumed my conversation with the youngster and eventually we went on our walk—me a quieter version of my old self.

I took up running.

Becoming a Fickle Friend

I went from trying to create community to passively avoiding it—only joining in when invited—rarely inviting on my own. And it seemed like when my ‘friends’ did invite me to join a group getting together at a local coffee shop, I’d be the only one to show up on time and the rest would wander in late or not at all.

I started going on regular coffee dates with my teenage daughters.

We recently moved to a new city in a new state, and I find it even harder to make new friends—and almost as hard to maintain old friendships. With the new people in my life, I realize that the problem might be mine: I don’t put myself out there—I have done little to create community and I discovered that I like doing things on my own (or with my husband, daughters or parents).

With my old friendships, I found that their lives have marched on without me. We stay in contact occasionally, and have a warm regard for each other, but no one puts much effort into creating more than just a good-friend-whenever-we-happen-to-get-together-relationship.

I started blogging about a year ago, and doing the whole twitter party thing, and I have discovered a whole new realm of friendships. One that suits my introverted, burned-before behavior and allows me to ‘try on’ friends the way one tries on clothes in the dressing room at a department store. Since the friendships all exist in cyberspace, I don’t feel too rejected if someone fails to hit the friendship ball back into my court. But I’m oh, so glad when someone does.

In writing about friends today, I’ve discovered that maybe I’m the fickle friend.

 

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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