Friend To, Not Friends With
When I was younger, I had so many groups of friends that I bounced around between. When I went to college, the groups got smaller. When I broke up with a long time boyfriend, they got even smaller. When I got married and had kids, I could count the number of true friends on one hand. Every milestone shrunk my friend group.
I’ve always had this mom role with my friends, even before I had kids. I was the advice giver. I made breakfast when everyone was sick and hungover. I made sure everyone had amazing birthday parties. I tried to take care of all of my friends.
One day this week, I called my mom to vent, because I felt like with all of the support that I give my friends, I don’t get support in return. I was upset that my friends don’t go to the same lengths for me as I do for them. I will listen and be honest. I will take a late phone call or message. I go out of my way to give them bigger answers than “it’ll be okay.” But I never got the same type of responses from my friends. I always got the short end of the stick.
I’ve attempted to tell a few of my friends how I feel, but they just reply with “I’m bad with words,” or “I don’t know what to say.” My heart sinks to my butt with each little phrase or excuse. I never know how to approach their situations either, but I do all that I can to make them feel better.
At firsr, I told my mom that my friends are just lazy and maybe a little self absorbed. After all, most of them are in a very different situation than me. I’m married with kids and a house. Most of these girls are single with no kids. Some even live at home or with roommates. I don’t want to judge them. I just feel so let down that they cry to me but I can’t shed a tear to them. I can’t open up to people who have nothing to say except, “it’ll be okay.”
My mom was so quiet during this conversation except for the occasional sigh. Finally, I ended my emotional rant with the realization that I married my only real friend. I know thats not enirely true and pretty dramatic, but I needed to bawl to my mother.
She laughed. She laughed and said another phrase that makes me cringe. “You’re just like your mama.”
I am my mother. I am definitely the sheep dog in the herd of my friends. I keep everyone stable when they lose it. I make sure everyone is okay and where they need to be. My mom has always played the same role with her friends. I thought if this was a learned behavior thing, than damn her!
She put it into a simple explanation that made so much sense but still hurt. She said I am a friend TO people but I’m not friends WITH people. She said I am their friend, but that does not necessarily mandate them to be my friend.
She tried to say that it’s okay to be good to them and be their friend, but don’t always expect an equal friendship in return. She also pointed out that I’m not the most forth coming with emotion, so when I do show my feelings, people aren’t sure how to handle it.
I get it. I’m sarcastic, but I’m also brutally honest. I don’t hold back when someone needs advice or an opinion. I butt my way in to try and help anyway possible. I am pretty overbearing I guess. I think I just want someone to show me the kind of effort I show for them. I hate to see people struggle, because I know what struggle feels like.
My mom was very proud of me being in a similar situation as her, but she did say it can get lonely. The phone call ended with the realization that lonely or not, making people feel better is worth it.
So here I am, with very few friends. I love the ones I have, at least when they decide to make an appearance. People get busy. That’s one reason I have a blog, so hello internet friends!