When You Need a Friend

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Television makes friendship look so easy.

Neighbors become besties. Couples divorce but remain confidantes. People thrown together in impossible situations invariably end up lifelong friends.

So — where is my Ethel, I ask? My Shirley? My Rhoda?

(And why am I picking shows from my childhood as examples?!)

In my youth, you would have categorized me as outgoing. Open. An extrovert to the nth degree.

I was friends with everyone — even those that would have been considered “unlovely” by the popular crowd — and talked to complete strangers with ease. A trait passed to me from my paternal grandfather, according to my Dad. I could walk into a party and find a conversation in an instant. I assumed the best of everyone, and took people at face value.

But there’s a downside to all that friendliness, openness and acceptance. When you take people as they are, you’re surprised and shocked when they don’t return the favor. When you make friends with everyone, you aren’t looking at the potential for hurt. Betrayal. Rejection.

We’ve all had friendships that, over the years, went by the wayside. Friendships from high school or college faded after graduation. Someone transferred and correspondence eventually faded. People changed and the relationship disappeared quietly by joint consent.

But we’ve probably all had at least one friendship that ended unexpectedly. Someone got mad and blew up, then refused to reconcile out of pride. A misunderstanding caused a rift and hurt feelings on both sides. One party had kids and decided to end a friendship with the childless gal (true story — guess who was the childless gal?).

Or we unwisely overlooked the warning signs and befriended the one individual who would have crushed any and all in his or her path. And probably has — over and over.

Today, everyone is a critic. It can knock you back to post something innocent on social media and have people crawl all over your heart — even those you trusted — and kick your hurts and fears to the curb, making you second guess your right to feel.

Over time, these hurts and rejections add a brick to an ever-growing wall between your heart and everyone else. A betrayal can add a whole section of wall. After all, if a person you trusted can stomp on you and just glibly walk away, how can anyone be trusted again?

But…we continue to reach out.

We feel the need to connect on a deeper level than being “Moms” or “Wives”.

So we start conversations. We attend meetings. Join groups. Find a church. Take classes.

And hope that eventually, we’ll find our Ethel.

Or be someone else’s.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “When You Need a Friend

  1. Friendships take work. Honest to goodness effort. More than just the drive by maintenance that we as a society in general have become accustomed to with various social media outlets. They also like you wisely noted take like minded individuals. Investing yourself into anyone who is not of the same belief system/s as you will inevitably end in sadness as they simply can’t value things/relationships the same way you do. I find now that I am older (I know we are about the same age), that I look to my church for my friendships. It helped that I moved an incredible distance this past year, so that I was in a position to start over with friendships. I am watching myself closely though. Old habits that develop are often hard to shed. I’m a once extrovert now introvert myself, and find when I am overwhelmed with all that I have going on with me, I often neglect my friends as there simply isn’t enough of *me* left over to invest in anyone else. Those are the weeks I send text messages saying.. Hey life is busy, sorry I’m absent and a poor friend, but I love you and hopefully we can chat next week. Then I make plans one at a time and do my best to catch up. Usually by then I need a bit of time to reinvest into myself and those quick bites to eat, or cup of coffee shared with a friend recharge my drained batteries.

  2. You are so right. I found my childhood bestie after years and she ran like the wind after finding out I am a strong Christian and she is an atheist! Oh well, it is what it is. I don’t have an Ethyl, a Shirley, or a Rhoda either. I did however name a hen Ethyl, and Rhoda. Rhoda turned out to be a Rhoddy. 🙂 I love your blog!

    • Surprised that she wasn’t willing to give you a shot — live and let live, etc. Sorry that happened. I had a best friend for about 8 years. But when she had children, she just felt pulled in too many directions, I think. She didn’t feel I could be there for her when I didn’t “understand” motherhood. Maybe that was the only way she could break it off instead of admitting she was on longer interested in me as a person. Either way, it was a growing experience. I do hope you find your Ethyl 🙂

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