08
Feb
18

The Impact of (Lacking) Friendship

****

I’m going to start of this thought train with a very vital question.  Does anyone else know what it is like to go 30+ years without a solid, reliable, comforting friendship in one’s life?  Does anyone have any idea…if you have a circle or even just two good friends…can you imagine the impact on a life of not having a reassuring friendship for 30+ years?

If I was someone who had at least two friends upon which I could go to with anything and actually hang out on a regular basis, feel like there was nothing taboo or that would earn me some measure of rejection, I would probably be speechless to find someone who had no good friends for that long.

Obviously, I am having a personal crisis moment.  I have these now and then about friendship.  The last time I felt I had a solid friendship, I was 13; and that friend decided to date a “frenemy” (friend who became a sort of enemy/indifferent classmate) and say we’d never be more than friends though I was hoping she and I would be more than friends, after knowing each other so long and growing together and after having feelings I didn’t even understand long before they were a topic in sex education.  I was roughly 7 years old when I knew I felt something for this girl who became a good friend.

I had male friends, too.  But, usually, one at a time, and they were not the best friendships because most of my focus was on what we had to share, video games, trading cards, whatever.  Sure, we could joke and hang out together, but not as often as I would have liked.  [And, there’s another reason behind that I won’t go into, today.  One that was not of my control/choice.]  For some reason, I couldn’t have more than one male friend at a time.  It was like one would rub me the wrong way or he’d get tired of my cautiousness and find someone more fun to visit.  So, out the door one would go, and, somehow, another slipped into place.  I don’t even know how I made these friends.  I think we just sat together at lunchtime and, while talking about video games or some kind of toys, decided we should consult our parents about getting together.

As for my best female friend, we met through a summer group and stuck together through school.  It was almost like we were two trees growing side-by-side.  And, I remember the distinct difference between the guy friends and the girl friend.  The girl friend was more sympathetic on her own while the guy friends found discussing feelings a bit uncomfortable.

I regularly had to curb what I said with the guys whenever they turned stone-silent and looked away.  Even as a kid, I had too much to think about or say, not necessarily being chatty at the time…because I was still one of the “quiet ones” back then.  I didn’t get chatty til my teens when I had to fight for my life, different from the days with bullies when I sometimes settled things with my fist or foot.  [The cornered cat scratched back, back then.]

As I got older, friends became even harder to find and keep.  In high school, I was under a ton of internal turmoil for a handful of reasons.  And, if the guys didn’t know how to deal with that when I was little, they were not much if any better as teenagers.  And, the girls were suddenly like deer in the eyes of wildcats.  The laws of the jungle were taking hold of my peers, and here I was contemplating the meaning of life and where my future was headed.  I might as well have been a lamppost in the forest.  The friendships I managed to make with the old system of common interests fizzled as soon as I became emotional or found my “friend” was supporting a cause or theology I did not respect.  I had to make moral choices, and that left me out in the cold, time and time, again.  No one came to my aid.  Peers didn’t reach out any better than I did.  [I probably would have been more social if I wasn’t consumed with anxiety and depression.]

Even professionals could only do so much; they didn’t understand.  A pill was not the answer; it might mess with my head and distract some part of me from functioning, but I cannot live the rest of my life like that and still feel human or true to my faith.  And, a pill is not the answer to a family situation that’s problematic.

[You can’t make everything better just by twisting my brain into some alien configuration that gets “better channels.”  My family did not have the answer nor accept me as I was.   A pill is not going to change that; talking just to me isn’t going to change that. And, distancing myself from family is only going to make me feel more alone and inadequate without a friendship to fill the gaps.

If people cannot cope with my intense persona, do I honestly think a pill that shuts me up is going to make that all better or allow me to see and use the “tools” someone thinks are the answer?  Some might say, “You don’t know until you try.”  Wanna be a guinea pig and deal with all the hazardous side-effects while trying to find the “right pill for you?”  Be my guest.  I hope you live long enough to toss the pill bottle when you finally feel better before you have other medical issues, possibly from liver or kidney sediment.  I hope the pill spares you from dealing with real emotional matters and when whoever upsets you gets on your nerves, again.  Or, if you’re one of those real lucky ones who DO “level out” just right…well, I’ve got nothing to say about that.]

So began the age of “no one understands.”

Then we get to adulthood and the workforce and how people don’t really mature much, even if they sound and look more mature.  Or, if there were more mature people, I had lost comprehension of maturity and was not seeing them beyond the trees of the forest I occupied.  I might read about someone with a “better” life without knowing all the facts and listen when others point to those people and say, “Look; they can do it.  Why can’t you?”

I manage to get along with coworkers.  I even get brave enough to put offers on the table.  And, on a rare occasion, someone makes me an offer.   But, what happens to those offers?  Not much.  If I get my hopes up, they seem to disappear or go south.  If I hesitate or brush it off, I hear, “Why didn’t you take me up on my offer?”  Um, maybe because I didn’t want to get my hopes up for the first result I mentioned?  Or, maybe you didn’t bring it up twice even though I can mention the same desire/wish a dozen times just to get a faint chuckle and/or a “yea” before it gets ignored.

Have I made any solid friendship with coworkers?  Not really.  I mean, sure, we got along and talked off and on at work for over 10 years.  I can email and call a few just to say hi and “catch up.”  And, no doubt, we’re all good at telling each other what they should do.

But, do we hang out or do anything outside of work?  Oh, no, because there was something wrong with me or my abilities.  Or, as unfortunate as it might be, we both have limitations that get in the way.  And, maybe, I don’t want to be the single, lonely guy poking his nose into a family or married situation when I am unsure of what is good timing or proper to suggest without offense.  [And, I don’t mean I was ogling someone’s wife, either.  But, if I was befriending a guy with an attractive wife, sure, I may feel attracted and then have to watch myself, which does add pressure to the situation.]  I don’t want to be the guy who “has too much time on his hands” and gets plenty of suggestions what to do with myself when I want to spend time with or have someone go over something important with me, who happens to have their hands full with family or their own social life, as if I would be a bother.

So, I am supposed to be a fully functional, professional and well-adjusted adult on his own, not letting what others say or do get to me, doing everything on my own as if I don’t have to interact with anyone yet somehow do whatever is “normal” to avoid being an outsider.  It’s like no one can explain how good friendship works….it just does.  It’s just like Life cereal.  Why does Mikey like it?  He just does.  And, Nike just does it.  So, why can’t I?

Well, if anyone wonders why I am progressing so slowly in terms of a “normal adult life” yet sitting with this “amazing brain” of mine, hopefully this current rant will shed some light on the matter and not drive potential friends further away.

 

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