Man’s a foolish creature, always at war.
Surrounded by his angels, that he chooses to ignore.
~ Nathan Bell – “Dust”
The lyrics above are of a song I recently discovered thanks to Apple Music’s “you may also like.” That feature is an angel itself. I’d probably still be listening to MC Hammer or Color Me Badd if it weren’t for modern day technology. Or Paula Abdul.
And just like that, I’m already off topic. I tend to do that when I don’t want to deal with emotions that are raw. Mine are really raw right now. They are raw because I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and how I’ve been lacking in that area of my life for a long time. They are raw because I’m about to tell you more about me that is hard to share. They are raw because even though I write all of this, and it might sound like I’ve made a 180, I’ve really only made a 5 degree turn because I turn, and learn, very slowly. And, they are raw because turning even 5 degrees is hard work. Here I go anyway.
I don’t have a lot of friends. I mean, I have a lot of people I would call my friends. But, it’s not like we hang out a lot or call each other when we are super excited that we got chosen to present at a conference or when we are scared when our spouse decides to leave his job. Some people have those friends. Some people know how to both have and be a friend. I haven’t been one of those people over the years.
Part of it is that I am an introverted 41-year-old woman with two kids who runs a school and deals with both depression and anxiety. Plus, I’m married and a life-giving marriage can also be, at times, life-sucking. And we have a pretty darn good marriage. However, when I get home at the end of the day (or am still home at the end of the day), the thought of talking, calling, writing or hanging out with anyone feels so very hard. Plus, there is dinner to cook (or cereal to pour), emails to respond to, texts to (not on purpose) ignore, and I’ve got ADD – so everything takes so much longer. How do I find time to actually be or have a friend?
I’ve always been jealous of those groups of girlfriends that seem to make it happen. I’ve never had a group of friends that I went on vacay with and drank wine and talked about everything from our favorite Netflix shows to how we have a love/hate relationship with sex because we were taught both directly and indirectly it wasn’t for us females to really enjoy. I’ve never had that group of girlfriends that could make eye contact with each other silently agreeing that our other friend was in complete denial about her current relationship. I’ve never had that friend that would help me pick out clothes, tell me to please not get bangs, or to show me how to actually put on make-up so I don’t look like a 12 year old. I’ve never really had that.
For a long time, I’ve thought it was that people didn’t like me, or that because I’ve been really shitty at keeping in touch, those people had simply given up on me. (I have a friend that wrote me over and over and over throughout the years, and I think I wrote her, like, twice. I am TERRIBLE at writing and keeping in touch.)
I am realizing that it’s none of that.
My dear friend that wrote me piles of letters over the years texted a couple of weeks ago and asked if she could visit for a couple of days. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it. I was surprised at how excited I was. I had forgotten what it was like to have someone want to hang out with you.
She came. We drank wine and talked about things that were not about my children. We talked about Netflix as well as politics, marriage, love and loss and we even touched on the topic of sex. And because she knows how to be a good friend, she vacuumed my school so that it would be ready for the parent orientation that was happening in the middle of her visit. I repeat: she vacuumed my school.
Then, just yesterday, I opened an email from a stranger saying that she had discovered my blog through a random series of searching the web for other things. She said that my writing resonated with her on so many levels. She then added “you’re my best friend and you don’t even know it.”
I realized upon reading her email, that two angels had been sent my way to let me know that I am not friendless and that people like and do resonate with me and that I need to stop ignoring these angels and to stop having the internal war of wanting friends, but not doing anything about it.
What it doesn’t mean is that I have to write people - thank goodness, because that’s not going to happen. I know myself enough to know that I may very well write, but actually finding an envelope and stamp and then the correct address for someone is my kind of hell and I’ve decided to avoid that hell altogether. And email? I hate email. I have to do it all.the.time. The last thing I want to do is email after emailing.
What it does mean is that I have to stop being afraid. It is fear that stops me in my tracks. It’s the fear that causes the internal war on my psyche. It’s fear that tells me to ignore the angels that surround me. *
Or rather, it’s not that I have to stop being afraid, but that I have to be afraid and to do it anyway. Make the phone call. Plan a trip. Email even though I hate it. Text back. Offer to vacuum one’s place of work. And, I have to remember that if someone that I would love to hang with is not reaching out, it’s likely not because they don’t want to hang, but that maybe, just maybe, they are as afraid as me to reach out. Maybe, just maybe, they feel un-liked or un-loved just enough to think they don’t have any friends. And maybe, truth be told, they don’t want to hang. That’s okay too. There are over 7 billion people in the world. Surely, one can find a few real-life, non-social media friends in that bunch.
And although I don’t have a lot of time, I’ve learned that even a little bit of time with friends can keep me going. It can also keep my marriage going down the life-giving versus the life- sucking track because my spouse doesn’t have to hold all the responsibility of being my only confidant. I’m allowed to have more than one confidant. A paid therapist in that role is sometimes even better than a friend, by the way. However, I don’t recommend paying people to be your friend (not that I’ve tried it). Anyway…
Here’s to turning 5 degrees at a time. Here’s to stop being at war. Here’s to listening to the angles all around me. Here’s to friendship. Here’s to all of you out there that feel the same way. I have a feeling there are a lot of us.
* Nathan Bell’s song “Dust,” I am 99.9% sure, had nothing to do with the internal war of wanting friends. I don’t know the man, so I can’t be 100% sure. However, these words meant something to me that may not mean anything to anyone else. Additionally, I would never claim that someone’s words meant something specifically unless that person actually told me exactly what the meaning behind the words were. I will claim, however, to get inspiration for anything almost anywhere, including from song lyrics completely out of context.