*Editor’s Note: I failed to note that this post is strictly about girl friends. I am very thankful my husband is my best earthly friend and he tells me all the time I am most definitely his best friend. He doesn’t long for a guy friend of the sort that I seem to long for in a girl friend.
I must not be the only 40-something married Momma in America who cannot sustain lasting and real friendships. There I said it. Deep exhale.
If you have that circle of friends or some “besties” (I didn’t even know that term until recently), then this article is most likely not going to be of any interest to you unless you just want to read about someone like me who seems to have the friendless gene. If you like me wonder what in the world is wrong with me or am I just always a day late and a dollar short or maybe always not at the right place and right time … then this article might hit all too close to home. What is the deal? goes through my mind daily. Except I’m going to choose daily to take that thought captive and toss it out of my brain and more importantly, out of my heart. I am NOT going to allow it take root again, because I am going to trust God knows what is best for me and that my idea of best isn’t a part of His plan, which is always better.
I realize friendship is a give and take. I honestly try to do a lot of the giving. In my recent venture into opening up my heart yet again and becoming vulnerable (really takes a lot out of me perhaps because of my history of failed friendships), I gave a lot: a card with a heartfelt note and small gift in recognition of her birthday, a surprise cup of her favorite coffee except I left out one ingredient I would later realize, texts of encouragement, sharing about very vulnerable areas in my life, being the only one to suggest actual face-to-face meetings for the sole purpose of being together instead of those times we see each other in relation to a more professional connection, which is how we first met one another … but in the end it wasn’t enough because one day I let my irritable and neurotic side show a lot … I apologized that same day but I never heard those three words I forgive you and its fairly clear she hasn’t. And yesterday I realized that potential real friendship has most likely slipped right out of my grasp just like all of the others.
I think one of the big light-bulb moments for me has come in recent months as I prayed and prayed and prayed some more for God to reveal to me how I could change in order to gain friends or even just one real friend. I have a lot of acquaintances mind you, but I was thinking and praying for that kind of friend you’d take a trip with year after year, who you have a language with that doesn’t even have to be spoken, who ALWAYS remembers to support you when not one but two of your children are undergoing major surgery … yeah I realized back in December that one of my “friends” wasn’t really there for me as she “forgot” by her own admission. I rarely speak to her or see her. When we do, we have a good time chatting but there is no longer any depth there. It stays at the surface and that is A-OK. It is just that she isn’t “bestie” material and I’ve come to accept that. It’s really OK.
I’ve come full circle in that quest for self-discovery and realized I can’t change who I am. For better or worse, I’m who I am and yes, I can be difficult to figure out and difficult to walk alongside. I have lots of “friends” mind you, but they always have a circle that I’m not a part of. And quite frankly, it gets old. And it HURTS. BAD. Being the other friend. The sometimes friend. The when-it-fits-their-schedule friend. The The specific time and place friend. The specific label friend. More often than not, our friendship formed from a shared circumstance.
Here are a few of the friend labels I have from sharing a circumstance with these ladies:
Bible study friend
My Child’s Therapist friend
Homeschool Tutorial friend
Sorority Sister friend
Church small-group friend
Adoption Agency friend
Local Adoptive Moms Group friend
Older Child Adoption friend
The list could go on and on. I can think of others, but these are the ones that seemed early on to have great potential, but in all these cases it didn’t take too long for these potential friendships to unravel just as quickly as they seemed to begin taking shape. That is the most mysterious part. I don’t seem to struggle making initial connections, but going beyond that first stage … in worldly terms, I’m an epic fail on that.
I remember the time a former “bestie” (we were tight there for a few months and I never knew why she stopped contact) contacted me out of nowhere because she needed assistance with a project in which she wanted me to use my mad layout and design skills on the computer. That was very strange to say the least. Thankfully, I was able to say no without guilting myself, because I really at that moment in my discombobulated state did not have the time. And I never heard from her again until I saw her a couple of years ago at a dance recital. It was kind of awkward when she went to introduce me to her “best friend” who walked up as we were talking. The unspoken words were heard loud and clear by both of us. I haven’t seen or spoken to her since as our paths just don’t cross, but we were so tight scrapbooking together every weekend and sharing life together. Until one day she just didn’t return my phone calls. I still for the life of me don’t know what happened. It was at the time when we were in our first adoption paper chase, and granted I was a bit neurotic about that paperwork but maybe adoption turned her off? I guess I’ll never know and honestly until I began writing this article I hadn’t thought of it in years.
As I’ve struggled to sort out what exactly is wrong with me that no one wants me in their close circle of friends, I think one thing I’ve concluded is that I’m actually an introvert who retreats in my shell all too often because of my past experiences with epic failed friendships. I’m skeptical because I’ve opened myself up so many times only to have the friendship implode when I have a weak moment and don’t seem like myself to the other person or it implodes for no reason whatsoever. And I wonder what in the world happened. And I wonder am I the only one out of the loop. So they cut their ties and walk away. I can’t say I blame them.
At 41 years old, though, I’m tired of striving for that coveted spot in someone’s inner circle of friends. I’m weary of wondering daily what is wrong with me that I don’t have a friend I could call at 10 p.m. when my husband needs to go to the ER? Thankfully, on that recent night, I asked our 16-year-old son if he would drive his Daddy to the ER so we didn’t have to take his five younger siblings to the ER. Our life is complicated and we can’t just leave all of our children at home alone. Even with a very responsible and mature 16-year-old son at the helm, we have some complicated situations that just would require too much responsibility to be placed unfairly on his shoulders.
One of the reasons I avoided Facebook like the plague and one of the reasons I rarely post on my blog anymore is I was trying to avoid seeing those “bestie” group photos and captions on FB, which ironically is where I recently learned of the term “bestie” referring to that friend and also with the blog I was hoping to avoid the happy feelings I would get when my blog buddy friends would comment on a post and I would wonder to myself if we lived in the same city, would I maybe be in her inner circle?
As for Facebook, it has gone down quite honestly as I suspected it would. I see post after post of people thanking God for their little group of lifelong friends, their call-upon anytime friends, their take an annual trip together friends, their our kids have been friends since birth friends … and on and on and on. People posting selfies with their besties. People who would say I’m their friend posting those selfies, but I’m never in any because I’m no one’s bestie. I try to hold my head high and speak the truths I know over myself. Even yesterday one of my FB posts is a reflection of this venture I’m on with my Father to claim and believe that I am a child of the One True King and to push out all of the lies the enemy loves to whisper in my mind and heart. He knows all too well that this friendship failure for me is a huge discouragement and he uses it daily to render me useless for the kingdom as I fight feelings of failure, unworthiness, rejection and sadness over my lack of close friends or circle of friends to call my own.
I realize this post is vulnerable in the most vulnerable of ways. I searched on google and found many articles about people not having friends, but I didn’t find the one that has been weighing on my mind and heart for months, but honestly for years too. I didn’t see the one which talked about being the person who would go to the monthly local adoptive Mom friend group only to leave fighting the tears that would flow as they talked about a recent play date which left me wondering but why didn’t they invite me and my Chinese kids to play too? Or another monthly meeting where some of them discussed their recent Chinese New Year party that was held together, but our family wasn’t even invited. So I stopped going. Who needs that right? I was in the group but I really wasn’t. I think the break-up for our family came when we brought our boys home at ages 10 and 5, and this quite frankly didn’t fit into their ideal of what a Chinese adoption should look like, and our boys clearly didn’t fit in their little Chinese girl play groups. But I know when I’m not wanted, and I’m the first to walk away in most instances. It doesn’t mean it hurts less though.
I didn’t see the article either about the Bible study friend, who has has stood by my family during an extremely traumatic time and a time when the few other well-meaning Christians I shared openly with left us high and dry, but we only get together occasionally with our kids, which is great, but she has a circle of which I’m not a part. She has a circle with whom she and her husband socialize and it isn’t taking in any new members. And so I see her and I love her, but I’m not in her inner circle either.
I’m not sure how to tie this up neatly. I don’t think I can. But if you are like me and realize perhaps God has called you to take a different path, a path that doesn’t include any “besties” or that circle of girlfriends who are lifelong and can read your mind with no words spoken .. TAKE HEART ladies. In the words of Matthew West:
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
Oh, these are the voices. Oh, these are the lies
And I have believed them for the very last time
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
Jesus is my very best friend. And if He’s the only “bestie” I’ve got, then I’m going to be OK. Because He is enough.
*After writing this post and much reflection, I wrote a follow-up post Turns Out I Don’t Have the Friendless Gene, which you might like to read also.