Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Friendships

I don't think I'm normal when it comes to friendships. Well, if there is such a thing as normal anyway. I am an only child. A latchkey kid from second grade on, I came home to an empty house. Because of the kind of childhood I had, I didn't feel particularly good about myself and grew up wanting what others seemed to have. I think that is how I chose friends.

In elementary school, I envied the popular girls--the ones who were pretty, bubbly, vivacious, and smart. At first glance, I wanted to be friends with them. But upon deeper reflection, the truth is, I wanted to BE them.

Then there were the girls I chose because I wanted to be part of their family, not my own. My best friend lived across the street from me, and I hung out there as much as possible, hoping to wangle a dinner invitation. Dinner at her house was so different--her mom cooked and cooked well. Her family (two brothers and the dad) actually ate together and talked. At our house, my mom knew how to make one thing, meatloaf. And Dad just threw ground beef in a pan and called it a hamburger, with canned green beans and spaghetti sauce in a jar. We ate out 4 or 5 times a week.

As an adult, I wanted friends I could talk to. Someone who loved and accepted me unconditionally. As with boyfriends and husbands, something was wrong with my picker. Just recently, a good friend pointed out to me that I seem to target people. I'll see something, some aspect of that person, or a characteristic, and decide I want them in my life, never stopping to consider they might not feel the same way about me. I'll maneuver (all right, this is telling the truth Tuesday so I'll say it, manipulate) things so that I get what I want. It never turns out well.

I have good friends in my life. But I seem to want different things--more time together, more intimacy, that kind of thing. I've learned not to make assumptions about what others are thinking and feeling, so if I begin to feel uncomfortable, I ask questions about what's going on. Believing that others really do love me; really do care about me; really do enjoy spending time with me, is still hard. Most of the time, I remember that. But when I forget, and act off the self-doubt, it's not a pretty sight. Luckily, my friends know me well enough to call me on it.

At 60, I'd like to be able to say I understand what friendship is all about. What it means to be a friend. What realistic expectations are about friendship. But the truth is, I'm still a bit clueless.

What do you feel about friendship? Are yours nourishing you? Do you have issues with friends as well? Would love to hear your comments on this topic.



Cyndi said...

My best friend lived next door and I secretly wanted them to adopt me too! I have a much more difficult time dealing with/picking men than I do women. I got lucky that although flawed, my husband is one of the good guys.

I'm still friends with the girl who lived next door and have a lot of other female friends too, from different circles. I love them all and don't feel as if any of them give less or care less about the friendship than I do. I would be lost without them. The best thing about girlfriends, for me, is that we can all be ourselves and act like idiots together, laughing until we're crying but also share our most deep dark troubling problems without judgment. In tough times we lean on each other.

When I don't hear from one or the other for a few days or even weeks I don't immediately assume something is wrong while I would absolutely do that with men if I weren't married. I did it when I was dating. I have no close male friends for that reason...I pick the wrong ones so I just steer clear.

Joanne said...

Very thoughful post ... friends. There are so many kinds I've had over the years, childhood, workplace, neighbors, family. Some friendships I've outgrown, others linger from high school days. Each one has different qualities, but I think the best ones are those where I'm completely at ease, where there is no pretense. One thing's for sure, each and every one has enriched my life in some way, from the hopskotch pals of childhood, to the friendships of my daughters.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

My sister tells me that my friends are saints. I don't think I'm easy to be friends with...I don't like to chat on the phone and I'd rather stay in the house than go out and do things. I'm not a great conversationalist and I don't pick up on social cues. My memory is horrid and I never remember birthdays or even, occasionally, lunch dates.

Fortunately, my friends know and seem to accept my oddities and tease me about them, in a nice way. It's VERY nice to have people who understand you...even though there may only be a couple! I'm lucky to have the friends that I do have. And I'm trying to be a better friend for them.

Mystery Writing is Murder

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Being an only child has its advantages, but it's not the best environment for developing quality people skills, that's for sure.

And as a teen, boy did I pick the wrong guys! Think I was aiming for my level and below. It wasn't until my husband and I started dating that I was finally with someone my level and above.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I think I'm pretty easy-going and most of my friends are the same way. We feel comfortable enough around each other to be able to be ourselves and say what we feel without worrying someone will take it the wrong way - or at least I do. Then again, maybe I'm just oblivious to subtle undertones!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I've never been one of those people who have hundreds of friends. I have a few good friends; one is a woman I've known since high school. We don't see each other very often since we live in different cities and both of us are horrible correspondents. But every time we do see each other it's as if no time has passed since the last time.

I find I change my personality depending on whom I'm with. I have friends from my theatre days; we talk about theatre. I have friends who are parents; we talk about our kids. There are one or two precious friends who can make me literally cry from laughter.

Friendship is a tricky thing. A true friend loves you no matter what and although they may warn you about a certain decision they will be there to pick up the pieces afterward.

Recognizing a potential partner? My track record has taught me I do not have this talent. Wish I did!


The Old Silly said...

Enjoyed this thoughtful reflecting muse. Friends, real friends - the kind you can be totally transparent with and not fear rejection, are one of the main reasons for being here - the spiritual connections made in this plane of existence between souls. I've always said if you have five good friends your life is richer than Kings of Nations.

Marvin D Wilson

Suzyhayze said...

The truth will set you free. I decided years ago to be as honest with my friends as possible. I did a lot of:
"No." and "Nope." and "Only if you can come to my house." and "I can't talk right now." and "I'm busy."

And when the smoke cleared, the ones that were left (only three) were there to stay.

Helen Ginger said...

You have such insight into yourself, Karen! I didn't use to have long-lasting friendships, but as I age, I've gained some really great friends. I think, though, that even with these, others initiated the friendships. I'm so thankful to be a part of several wonderful groups of women friends.

Straight From Hel

Tabitha Bird said...

Friendships are something I am still working on. I seem to have plenty of freinds, but long a for a real close freindship. More than just a chat over coffee. I want someone I can share my heart with. As of yet I have not found her. I couple of times I thought I had, but when I was honest about certain aspects of the friendship that didn't work for me or when I stood up for myself these girls left. Now I value honesty above all else. Someone who doesn't feel she needs to apologize to me for her opinion and who doesn't expect me to apologize for mine. Up until this point I don;t think I have been stable enough to really know myself well enough to know who I am or what I want in friendships. Now I am healing there are some things which are deal breakers for me in friendships. I guess I just want more healthy relationships now :)