Sneezes and a tiny knock on my bedroom door woke me up before 5 am. A sick kid wanted his mama for the second time in a matter of hours. After helping him get comfortable, I laid back down to return to sleep. Of course anything after 5 am and my mind switches ON. I struggled to fall back asleep and resigned to sneak down stairs. My heart and mind have been heavy lately. There is just so much going on. Tragedies, bigotry, politics… This post could comment on any number of these worldwide events but at this moment, it isn’t the heaviest thought running through me. Friendship….. that is what’s preventing me from falling back to sleep this morning.
It starts out so easy. As kids, you could enter a playground, look for other kids your age, ask them to play and even if you never see them again, you had a friend for the time you needed one. As you get older things change. I remember the first time I was hurt in a friendship. I was in 4th grade and I hung out mostly with these 3 other girls. The 4 of us were all close, but I was best friends with one in particular. I started noticing her and one of the other girls drifting together more often and choosing one another. Then the tragic day occurred, when my bestie decided to tell me that I was no longer her number one. I was still her “BFF” but that friend number 2 was now her “BBFF” that stands for “best, best friend forever.” I was ousted! Shortly after, my family moved and I think it taught me a bad pattern for friendship because we ended up moving a bunch more times after and I left behind quite a few best friends in the process. I started building walls, as a 9 year old girl. Truth be told, I probably built up walls before that but I think that’s when I recognized it.
Fast forward a few more years, and 6 schools later. I had 6 more best friends. I was hurt by a few and I’m sure my moving also hurt some of them. My best friend going into high school was a girl that everyone loved. She was gorgeous and had a boyfriend and I was the chubby sidekick. There was some hinky stuff going on with that guy and it gets super complicated but in the wreckage of all of that, I was left behind. I spent the latter half of freshman year alone and hanging out with a group of “plan B friends.” That sounds harsh, but we all have them! In this group of girls I was only really friends with one of them and she ushered me into the group. I didn’t have anything in common with the other girls but I tried to find a new best friend in her anyway. Then, we moved again. But this time, I was starting a new high school without knowing a soul.
I ended up making a wonderful best friend and we were like sisters for a few years. It was me that hurt her this time, when I went off to college and made new friends, I kind of let our friendship fizzle and fade over time. But like I said, I learned this life pattern of hardening my heart and moving on. And that may not be entirely fair either, we were both growing in different directions with our own goals and they just happened to not line up. But I was probably more calloused about it, as I reflect now.
College of course brought new challenges. I made best friends and then graduated. As adults now, things are different. Graduating college ushers in the new era of Adult friendships! Friends get married, have children, work full time jobs, move far away…Priorities are just different. So while it was not ONE thing particularly, most of my college friendships and myself, just changed. I adore those women with all of my heart. But in the day to day, they aren’t my best friends anymore. In my heart they are! But practically, it has been almost a decade since college ended and a few visits or conversations here or there, does not a best friend make.
So, Now I am married to a man that is my best friend that I have 2 wild children with. I love that he is my best friend, but I still long for that sisterly connection. I only have brothers so I have always had to outsource a sister. And recently it has been a tough few months. I have had my feelings hurt, felt left out and forgotten, moved (yet again) and been essentially friend dumped. None of this by any one person or “best friend” just various women pals who, I’m sure, never intended to hurt me. It is probably a lot of my own doing. I am less “available” than some, I live further, I am an introvert with awkward social skills and 2 kids that are stubborn wild things that not everyone can handle. My husband keeps pointing out that I’m investing in friendships that are just not the right ones. It really is like dating. You get invested and it turns out she’s not Mrs. Right!
I have been trying to be vulnerable and not let recent stinging arrows prevent me from continuing my search for a best friend. I am in a place in my life where I see how valuable and sacred a best friend is. I took them for granted in my life, assuming I would just make new friends again. I don’t have the luxury of youthful easy relationships anymore. My time is now divided between my husband and children but I’d love to share some of this life with a best friend in similar circumstances.
This has made me look at my children too. I was thinking about planning Lilah’s 2nd birthday party when I realized she doesn’t even have any friends! There aren’t many girls her age in her life. And as I think about Linden, we are seeing that those playdate pals are forming their own preferences and best friends now and he isn’t it. Like me, he is being ousted for better “BBFF’s.” He is pretty clueless of this fact currently, but I see it. And I hope I can protect his heart from that same hurt I’ve experienced, to some extent. I believe that starts with my example. I need to have solid friendships in my life to model that for my kids.
So this isn’t a pity post. Or an online advertisement for a friend. This is just me sorting out emotions and finding threads that tie together. I’ve been hurt, betrayed, back stabbed, and talked about by other women. But I’ve also abandoned and hurt some friends myself. I hope to grow in this area and not build higher walls to “protect” my heart. I hope to find my tribe or my one kindred spirit. I know I’m not alone and that many of you have similar struggles in the friend department. I pray that we all find our “bosom friends” as Anne of Green Gables would say.
And I hope I look nothing like Lucy the bear from Peter Brown’s book, You Will Be My Friend! It’s funny how books you pick for your kids at the library turn out to be just what you needed to read.
Check it out, it’s actually a pretty cute story.