Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A New Approach

I've never been one to have a multitude of "best friends" outside my family. I have definitely had best friends here and there through different periods of my life, but my lifelong best friends remain family -- Mama, Drew, Mandy, Munner, Nan...

There have been times when I have contemplated this point and wondered, "Is it because I'm a bad friend? Am I selfish or 'too much'?" Of course, there may have been times when that was true, but generally when I look at a friendship that has fallen by the wayside, I find that on the contrary, I haven't been uninvolved or disinterested. I haven't called only when I needed something. I find that most of the time, I have made much effort at keeping in touch, only to be left with a very one-sided friendship.

Having been left with almost a handful of one-sided friendships over the last few years, I have found that they are really quite exhausting. It's disheartening to be the only one calling, the only one checking-in and helping out. If I was the only one calling in a "dating" relationship (putting aside the fact that at this point in my life, this would be adultery), people would say I should forget the guy -- that he's not worth my time. So why, in friendship, do we let one-sided relationships go on so long? Why do we keep calling time after time to check-in and show love, only to be forgotten until the next time we call? Why do I wear myself so thin supporting other people who don't ever really seem to reciprocate the support?

I suppose part of this self-imposed torture comes in the belief that somehow the great friendship we once had is going to reappear. It's hard to give up on something that was once great, especially when you can find no reason for it having changed in the first place -- the same reason I still have my baby blanket tucked upstairs in Tucker's closet, probably; it once gave me SUCH joy and comfort. Even though it doesn't help me much now, I can't bear to let it go.

I have learned through this process of being left behind to allow myself to enjoy the moments when I do have great contact with these people WITHOUT letting myself be hurt when the contact ends or goes missing. I learned to enjoy a great phone call of catching-up or a quick "passing through town" visit without letting myself get caught-up in expectations for anything outside of that one interaction. And I must say it was freeing. Why stress over something you can't control? Best to just enjoy whatever you get and forget the rest.

Of course, the fact that I do have my constant best friends (and Tucker) giving joy to my life on a regular basis helps me to be able to let go of the obsessing over "what did I do? what can I do?" in these friendships. My life is full of blessings and people who love me ALL the time and support me every day. I have joy, love, and laughter every single day and for THAT I am grateful. As I have mentioned before, our family (the Wests, for those of you who aren't part of it - though I'm not sure I have many readers that fit that bill) is very lucky to have US. We are a wonderful source of love and support that is there whenever you need it. Got a big event and want someone to celebrate with you? Call on the fam. Someone WILL show up to represent. :-)

You may ask WHY, after many years of learning to be okay with these friendships, are you sharing all of this with us NOW?

Well, I had another revelation in relation to these friendships this week. In the middle of a particularly frustrating incident with a "one-sider", I decided that even though I can't change these people to make the situations easier, I could pray for God to help me change how I RECEIVE them. (For those of you who know her, that thought just SCREAMS of something my mother must have told me a million times in my life. haha) I decided that for all the people I have in my life who seem to only ever want to focus on (and therefore have me and everyone else focus on) their own lives, I am going to earnestly pray for God to help me not focus on the selfish nature, but rather focus on how they might truly need support in their lives.

Here's to changing my perspective (and therefore my stress/irritation level).


PS - This is my first step in achieving my goal of occassionally putting up a blog that isn't all about Tucker. haha


Mandapooh said...

I have felt the exact same thing. It's only been in the last 2 or 3 years that I have had what I consider 'successful friendships'. Care and support from both sides, not just me.

Paige said...

I recently had an experience where I was told that I was a "one-sider" and it really upset me. I have always strived hard to achieve the contrary, and oddly a lot of time feel as though I can be a little over bearing, lol. Hope I have never made you feel like you are the only one trying! Love ya!

Leslie said...

Paige, actually, in a rant about this to my mother in law the day after it happened, I actually said, "You know, friendships like this aren't worth the effort. Especially when I see now friends like Paige who I know would drop anything at any time of day to come help me if I needed her." You are definitely not one-sided. And yes, you and I are both "a little much" as I like to describe it, but at least we're pretty dependable, I like to think. :-)

Paige said...

Aw. Tear. I feel so loved :) And you are correct, my dear. Anything, anytime, for you! I find more and more that there are many a thing about the two of us that make quite a case for genetics. We are most definitely from the same blood line, haha!

Mandapooh said...

What a love fest! In a church service recently, an acquaintance shared that she always felt like she was 'too much, and at the same time, not enough'. I've often felt, and I know you have too, that I have to dial myself back a notch. That's why you are so valuable to me! I can be myself, intensly, with you. And know that you love me just like I am. I also know that you feel the same way about me. And, Paige, I am growing quite fond of you, too!

Anonymous said...

Hey Leslie. Very interesting. Its even more difficult to keep up with friends when you move away from 'home-town'.
I am very thankful to get to talk with/visit with old friends when the opportunity arises, but family is most important, they will always be there for you. If you have one true friend (outside of family) that you always keep up with, count yourself fortunate.
Best wishes with your 'new perspective'.
Heather H. Wright