Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Girlfriends (aka The Good, The Bad, the Socially Inept)

The other day I went out with a couple of girlfriends. One a long-time friend, one I've only known a few months. Both very good friends.

The three of us get along fantastically, and have been trying to work out our schedules literally for months. I eventually ended up using a vacation day to make it work.

And it was well worth it.

We met at IKEA, and walked and talked and walked and chatted and walked and shopped and talked.

Then we went to dinner and talked some more. In the parking lot we just couldn't shut up so we decided to do dessert, and kept on talking.

It was very, very good.

It was refreshing. It was renewing. It was healing. It was just about every good word that ends in -ing wrapped up in one afternoon that dragged on into evening.

And it reminded me that I need more girlfriends.

I've never had a lot of girlfriends. For whatever reason I found it easier to connect with the boys. So I always had a lot of guy friends (not boyfriends, mind you, but that's a whole 'nother blog post), but relatively few girlfriends.

And I've been pretty okay with that, to be honest.

I mean, the girls I have been close with... are awesome. So I didn't need many. And I always had those guy friends too. So my social circle was full. I had a great family. Got plenty of support. Life was good.

Since I've written about them before, I won't delve into it again, but some things happened in my past that left me feeling defenseless, and I pushed away some of my friends, and I built up a wall, and I developed some trust issues, as well as a good dose of social anxiety.

Not the best for developing close relationships with people.

I kept my family close, but not many friends.

But recently, some of the closest people in my life have literally been moved across the world. Literally.

First, one of my best friends' husbands got relocated to California. Then my sister got transplanted to Iowa. Then one of my oldest friends follows God's call to teach in Africa.

While I was left with a lot of good acquaintances, my friends were all gone. Literally, physically moved away from me.

I hesitate in writing that line. I hope no one is taking offense, thinking "hey - I'm your friend". So let me explain.

In this post, by "friend", I mean a close friend, the one you can stay up talking to all night, who can call you at any hour for any reason, who is as close as family or closer, who you can't imagine your life without, the one when you were younger you imagined being your maid of honor in your wedding and living next door to raising your children together.

I need some good girlfriends. Some more gal acquaintances would be nice too.

Of course, working with all men doesn't help things.

Don't get me wrong, they're great guys, but... not only am I a little hesitant about the befriending-a-coworker thing, I'm also a little hesitant about the whole befriending-a-married-man thing too, you know?

So... where was I?

Oh, yeah. Girlfriends are awesome. I am so jealous when I see girlfriends out together, or see people post on Facebook or Twitter or their blog about their gal pals and how they just hang out, casually as can be.

Because on the rare occasions that I do get to see any of my very few girlfriends, it seems to take so much effort.

Coordinating the schedules of even just two of us can sometimes take weeks to find a date to get together.

The message boards that I used to belong to, and still talk to quite a few of the ladies from, well - they get together quite often. During the day. Not always formal get-togethers, but playdates & such. During the week. During the day.
Of the numerous more formal get-togethers they've arranged over the past four years, I was only able to make it to one.

I volunteered to organize one once, and after surveying for good times & places, selecting a time, and choosing a place that was convenient for the majority, but would make me drive an hour to get there, we only had 1 person besides myself RSVP, so it was cancelled.

And it doesn't help that I'm completely socially inept.

Confession? I don't know how to make friends.

And when I try, I tend to fail. And then I feel like a big fat loser that nobody likes. And when you feel like that, you're not exactly appealing to potential friends.

Trying to make new friends is a lot like dating.

Confession? I hated dating.

Examples of my trying fails? Sure:

Tried to do something nice for someone at work. Got accused of being a stalker.

Tried to do something nice for an old college friend. Was told I was being "too nice", and must have ulterior motives.

Threw a party. Invited 120 people (no lie). Five showed up.

Threw another party. Invited 75 people. Six showed up. But two of those were my parents, so...

With their blessings, sent out a mass text prayer request for a friend. Trying to be nice & supportive, right?
- had one person respond that I was invading privacy by sending it out regardless of whether or not I had permission and reamed me for "overstepping my bounds"
- had another person accuse me of doing it to draw attention to myself
- had yet another person yell at me for "scaring them to death" because they got a text about a random person being sent to the hospital and they couldn't imagine what had happened (apparently they were driving and in & out of dead spots and only got half the message, but it was my fault, even after I showed them the whole message, and I just shouldn't send things like that).

And my husband wonders why I have social anxiety, why I don't put myself out there more. It seems like even when I try to be a friend to others, to be nice, to do something good for someone else, I'm either ignored, or it gets twisted around and I somehow end up the bad guy. Again.

I swear I'm not a bad guy. I'm not.

I'm not perfect, but I'm good. And I'm nice. And I try really hard to do right by other people. I do my best to be fair.
Again, I'm not perfect, but I certainly am not bad.  Really, I'm not.

And when I put myself out there and try to be friendly to others, open my home up to others... no one comes.

And yes, I realize I'm rambling right now.


I guess what I'm trying to say is that the other night made it even more evident to me how much I need good girlfriends in my life. A good, strong support system. Good friends to laugh with and cry with and share life with. To share their lives with them.

And I want that. I really do.

And maybe the problem is that I'm trying to force it, and relationships like that can't be forced, but they sure as heck aren't just falling in my lap either.

This post seems rather disjointed to me. A little rambl-y, I suppose. Just putting some thoughts out there.

All I'm saying is I need some good girlfriends. I want some good girlfriends. I've been trying to make some more friends, to make more time for friends, to make it more of a priority for me... but it just doesn't seem to be working.

I end up with a few really good nights, interspersed with a lot of bad nights. It's depressing. And it reminds me so much of dating: you know, mostly rejection. For me, anyway.

I recently had an acquaintance tell me that to make more friends I need to "show yourself friendly". To be honest, it kinda ticked me off. I mean, really? Because I thought being a big fat jerk-wad was a good way to make friends. Seriously! But I already told you, it's like even when I try to be nice, it blows up in my face. I try to be friendly, I try to open myself up... and it doesn't seem to work.

Maybe I just don't know how to "show myself friendly". Whatever.

Anyway. Those are my random thoughts right now.

Thanks for checking in


'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

I used to attract the attention and time of all the wrong kinds of people. I had a bunch of 'friends', but honestly they tended to be a bit scary or even crazy. I couldn't figure out what was going on and the drama of it all was just too much.
Then I realized that this pattern related to how I was raised and the people that had been 'normalized' in my life who were definitely never normal. I could see that the people I attracted were users and abusers, never really there for me. If you have never experienced typical healthy friend relationships it can be especially tough to know what to do. And then you end up accepting relationships that are no good or running away from friends altogether. Not sure if this is your issue or not, but something to consider. Once I could identify the issue, things seemed to clear up right away and I am happy to see that my trouble relating had more than a little to do with who I was trying to relate to.

Mrs E said...

I know the feeling of just enjoying and feeling refreshed after a "girlfriend day" -- I have been trying to incorporate more "ME TIME" and "GIRLFRIEND TIME" into my life.

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