Now, where did I leave that?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Friendship

Remember being young and spending gazillions of hours on the phone with your best friend? Passing notes in class? Those moments when a shared look spoke volumes about what you were thinking? Remember meeting that person--in a laundromat when you both had two year olds hanging on you, in that womyn's circle or book group, in that adult learning class--with whom you forged an instant connection and just knew you were sisters under the skin and would be friends forever? And forever included countless emails, laughter, tears, death-of parents, marriages, dreams, jobs. Forever was moments of deep connection, the voice always at the end of the telephone line no matter what time of day or night.

  Remember how good it felt to know there was someone in your corner--and whose corner you fully occupied?

  Lately, I'm aware of how many friends I've lost over the years, how many best friends & soul-sisters have vanished from my life. Some slipped away gently as our lives went in different directions, remaining as fond memories and bringing delight when our paths cross briefly & unexpectedly; we part again with promises to stay in touch but it rarely happens. You know how that goes, right? Some friends are the ones we see once or twice a year and it's wonderful & heartful, but you know deep in your heart that you're more...invested?...than they are, that if you didn't keep the candle lit it would simply sputter out. Some friendships go out with a bang--a fight, a mortal blow, a betrayal. It might take you years to recognize the part you played in it, to stop feeling like you were lucky to get out only singed and realize you lit the match, and to know it's too late to say "hey, you hurt me, but now I understand how much pain I caused you and really wish I'd done things differently." Some friendships reveal themselves to be of-the-moment or situation, not intended to last the long haul. Sometimes you just don't know where the bond has gone, or why...you just know it's gone and miss it. And one's partner or spouse is different than a 'friend' even when they're the best friend you've ever had, ya know what I mean?

  I've always been an introvert, too shy to be comfortable in groups. I'm lousy at small talk (granted, some days this blog is nothing but small talk, but writing is different). It's tough to make friends, to put yourself out there when you just know you're boring & socially awkward and can't imagine why someone would particularly want to get to know you. I'm genuinely interested in others, and happy to ask them questions and learn about them, but never quite know where to go next. I think maybe it's easier when you're young. And so, lately I've realized I'm lonely. Lonely for that connection of laughing with someone else, sharing secrets and projects, discussing books and adventures, worries and joys, being able to trust that they'll tell you the truth and want  no less from you.

  I'm blessed to have a friend I reconnected with (thank you, cyberspace & her tenacity) a few years ago; she lives in another country and we haven't seen each other in about 37 years, but we wrote letters for two decades, and now that we're back in touch, there are emails and facebook. She's suggested I figure out skyping so we can actually talk over a cup of coffee together! I have a friend I see for a few hours two or three times a year, and it's always warm and wonderful, but other than those times, we don't really connect; emails are responded to warmly but briefly and impersonally; she's busy and I just don't factor in. There are a couple of people on facebook, but that's far too superficial for my taste. There's a sort-of coworker I think the world of, and always enjoy seeing, but we're both very busy and don't get much time to connect. And that's about it.

  Oh, I know how one is supposed to make friends, but I've not ever been comfortable or successful at it. And good Goddess, who wants to appear needy? Even this blog post is making me squirm! How about you? Am I alone in feeling more isolated as I get older? Alone in finding it ever harder to make friends as time flits past? Or are you blessed with an abundance of friends and by golly, how did you make it so?

13 comments:

A Quiet Corner said...

Ashling, I've had ONE...yep, ONE BEST FRIEND...the ONE & ONLY so hang on to yours! Sure, I've made and met many acquaintances for which I'm grateful, but this gal would be there for me no matter what...:)JP

Nancy J said...

Ashling, my longest time friend, is from 1954!!! we phone, email and skype, live about 6 plus hours apart, we share joy, sorrow, sadness, and husbands illnesses. True friends can pick up where they left off, no matter how long ago it was. But this year I have so many new really true friends who care,share, and send words. I cannot ask for more. I hope you have the same. Greetings from Jean.

Jen said...

Friendship is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I do find it hard to make new friends these days, at least partly because I am working from home, and also because my children are older, so I have to make an effort to meet new people, something that being a reclusive bookworm does not come easy. I am surprised at how real some of my blogger friendships feel/are.

Rubye Jack said...

I think friendship can take a lot of work. For me, much of the time, because of my shyness, I would simply rather stay home than go out. I'm lucky in that having moved back to my hometown recently I have ready-made friends from high school. Still, I have to force myself to pursue the relationships. I think most people's friends come from their work or hobbies. Regardless, as we get older, especially us introverts, it is harder to find friends. Thank goodness for blogging.

Michaele said...

You are not alone! Much of what you said - I could repeat. Congratulations on your re-connection.

Suze said...

Ashling, I'm here because of your kind comment on my jittery blog post, this morning. That's how you get blessed with an abundance of friends. I really believe that.

Robin Larkspur said...

I fell behind in my blog reading and am just reading this tonight.
Ashling, I am in the exact same place you are concerning the lack of a good friend. Since we moved here 14 years ago, I have had a few friends, but not the lasting ones. My very best friend lives in Virginia and we dont get to see each other often, though we do talk on the phone at least once a week. I miss so much having someone to get together with, go for a coffee, or sit on the porch for a while, just do all the things friends do. Just has not worked out for me here. It is a sad, lonely place to be actually, though I have my wonderful husband, of course...not the same thing though. Wish there was an easy answer on how to find a good friend (I won't even ask for more than one)....when you find the answer let me know.

the wild magnolia said...

We do become invisible to some as we age.

I have two best friends and one is a kindred. One I met at work and have been friends for25 years. The other I met at church years ago.

Even before we began traveling my contact with both dear friends is less. Retired their lives are close to home. We talk on occasion. We are still dear to each other but the wheel has turned.

Traveling allows us to meet new people. Campground friends. D gets out and about more than I do.

Hobbies, church, volunteering and work may bring friends. Friendship takes years. Rarely do a chance meeting produce a lasting friendship. Want a friend, be a friend, is an old saying.

I believe you are years younger than me. Presently retired, traveling and tired.....and pursuing my own interests I have become selfish with my time.

Your writing is comfortable and friendly. Maybe you could find a writers group. Your words may be a bridge.

If i lived near you, I feel we would connect further and be good friends.

((hugs))

cleemckenzie said...

Old friends are so comfortable. You share history that new ones can't, so I cling to my old friends as much as possible. Still I love meeting new people, but, like you, I'm fairly reserved with people I don't know. It takes me a while to create new relationships.

I'm back from my blogging vacation and enjoying reconnecting with some of the bloggers I enjoy reading.

Bodhi Gray said...

Quoted<" I've always been an introvert, too shy to be comfortable in groups. I'm lousy at small talk (granted, some days this blog is nothing but small talk, but writing is different). It's tough to make friends, to put yourself out there when you just know you're boring & socially awkward and can't imagine why someone would particularly want to get to know you.">End of Quote

Oh my goddess! I could have so wrote the above paragraph. I completely know how you feel--been feeling the same way for a couple of years now. I have been lucky enough to start communicating with a girlfriend I haven't seen in almost 13 years but other than that I really don't have a whole lot of friends that I get together with regularly. I feel you :-)

Ashling said...

Thanks, all of you...I suspect some of us would be fast friends if we met in the real world. Following your blogs, I feel like we know each other, even though it's just snippets of people we see. I'm grateful for the opportunity to get to know you folks through what you share...

Donna Farrer said...

Friendships need work. They are not all the same, but they all need the same things. I find that at times it's very hard work. I am always looking to find people who have things to say on the matter. I have been reading a lot on the subject of friends lately, Women I Want to Grow Old with. This book has been really insightful. Helped me see the bigger picture of keeping friends for the long haul. womeniwanttogrowoldwith.com if anyone wants to check it out! Thanks again for this post, even the comments have shed new light on this for me!

Linda said...

Great post & you are not alone...I true friends that do not even fill one hand...I would much rather that that alot ppf superficial people who pretend to be a friend ... I am a loner as well & so is my hubby...we are happy with our lives...and I prefer the company of animals than many I know....LOL embrace & enjoy it Ashing and it is much less stressful too...lol