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 5, 2010

Telling the truth Tuesday - friendship

Our local newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, which I don't read because, having grown up with the New York Times and then the Oregonian in Portland, OR, which are good newspapers, it's just, well...I don't want to sound like a snob or anything, but it just doesn't cut it. But once a month there is a supplement called SAGE, which contains articles for, by, and about women on womens' issues. I've written for them in the past and like the philosophy and approach. This Sunday, the feature article was about women and friendship.

It was perfect timing for that subject because it is an issue I have struggled with in the past and continue to have problems with even today. I don't know what is appropriate to expect from a friendship. How close is okay? How much intimacy? When do you step back? When do you confront? When do you just accept things as they are? When do you try to change things if they are not working for you? Actually, as I'm writing this, I'm realizing these issues are true in any relationship, not just friendship.

Sometimes people come together for a particular reason, there might be something in common that you can commiserate about, or an activity you both like. But what happens when the something in common disappears, or one or both no longer participate in the activity? Can the friendship survive.

As I pondered these things regarding one of my friendships, I realized something important about myself. I am a person who only feels connected to people when there is intimacy - and I don't mean sexual. I mean the kind of talks where you really open up and share how you feel and what you are grappling with. I don't expect these deep conversations every time there is communication, but I do want to know what is going on in the hearts and minds and souls of the people I care about.

But alas, not everyone wants this kind of intimacy. So I am faced with figuring out how to feel close and connected when those around me aren't disclosing their feelings. When they are only talking politics, or movies, or work. Recognizing the differences in people is key to having successful relationship. Learning to negotiate your way through challenges without insulting, yelling, demeaning or disrepecting each other is also crucial.

What does friendship mean to you? Am I alone in my need for this kind of intimacy in my close friendships?


Jessica Bell said...

You're not alone at all. I need these things too. This is probably the reason I only have two very close friends. All of the others 'aquaintances', I just don't expect much from them. I see them when I don't need to have a substantial converstation. They're good company, but that's where it ends. I think you just have to know that that's what they are. You 'like' them. You 'enjoy' being around them. But you don't 'need' them. I find that I when I 'need' to speak to a friend, that they're most likely a friend I'll keep for a life time.

Ann said...

No Karen you are not alone. I think we all need intimacy in our friendships. But not all our friendships need to be on the same deep level. What is that old saying if you can count your true friends on one hand you are blessed.

Vicki Rocho said...

I'm kinda slow to make friends, but once I have them they are in for the long haul. They are also ones I can say anything to--and they understand. Everyone needs someone like that.

Joanne said...

Anyone who admits to newspaper snobbery is a friend of mine! One of my daughter's ongoing college assignments is to read every front page story, of EACH section of the NY Times, Monday - Friday. Wow, the things she's learning, what a paper.

AlexOngNYC said...

I'm struggling with this myself. My introverted ways are OK with not being as connected to a lot of the people in my life lately, then another part of me misses those "intimate" moments of sharing and friendship.

Breakfast Every Hour

Jules said...

I guess I'm the friend who will not allow intimacy. Partly due to bad friend selection and then my intimacy being used as a weapon. Sort of makes you gun shy.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Main thing I need out of a friendship is honesty.

Karen Walker said...

Jessica, thanks so much for sharing. I guess I never thought people I've known for a long time might actually still be acquaintances and not friends.
Ann, yes, I guess friendships can be at different levels. I hadn't reallythought about that.
Vicki, yes, so true. One is very lucky who has friends like that.
Joanne, sounds like your daughter has a great teacher.
Alex, I'm an introvert as well, although I have some extroverted behavior sometimes. Finding the balance is key.
Jules, that's part of my issue too. I have been betrayed by close friends in the past - it does make you gun shy. But I've learned to trust my choices a bit better as a get older.

KK Brees said...

I have five friends who are more than friends. They're the sisters I never had and I feel blessed they're in my life.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Some of us were raised in distant, aloof families that had no vocabulary for naming feelings, and discussing them was either verboten or a waste of time. Learning the skills of intimate friendship is a real challenge in these situations.

I feel so fortunate that over the years I've had several close friends who were gifted at disclosing emotion without pressuring others to respond at the same level or through the exact same channel. I've learned so much from them, and am enormously grateful for their examples of compassionate respect and ability to appreciate what I had to offer and wait for me to "catch up."

Even so, I'm convinced that deep friendship requires a sort of mystical chemistry that defies analysis.

Karen Walker said...

Alex, without honesty there is no real friendship.
Karen, yes, I have two of those as well. So precious.
Sharon, love that - mystical chemistry that defies analysis - yes, that's right.

Anonymous said...

I find I am drawn to people who are brutally honest with me. If there is no true honesty, there is no deep friendship, but I like all the acquaintences I have, too, and accept them just where they are.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Passing on a unique award to you today, Karen!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

This is a tough one for me. I'm not one to open up very much...has to do with my introverted reserve, I guess. I think I'm a good friend in return....but I'd rather listen to someone else's problems and try to work through them with them than expose my own.

Jen Chandler said...

Karen, you are definitely not alone. I'm the same way. I value the few close friends I do have, people with whome I can open up with. It's hard for me to make friends because I need to really connect with people on different levels before I open up to them. So many people are very superficial in the way they communicate and that's hard for me.

RaShelle said...

Hi Karen - I found you through Alex's blog. An intimate relationship is the best kind, when you really get to know the person - know their heart. And like you said, it doesn't HAVE to be a heart-to-heart every time, but it does make the friendship more meaningful.