Advice Column Thursday: The Friendship Edition

Dear Leslie,

I know you said to email you requests for advice column Thursday but this was easier from my phone.

Editor’s note: Just get hold of me. I don’t care how. I don’t care if I have to check 20 e-mail accounts to try and find inspiration to write, but you have to meet me halfway and use something I check A LOT so you don’t carry resentment towards me that I haven’t answered your question when in reality, I haven’t read it.

You can publish my question if you want but I would prefer you not use my name. I have been trying to figure out how to accept and deal with an issue that continues to bother me and one I cannot get over…I am the single friend in a group. One other friend Sherri is seeing someone long distance but I don’t know if it’s exclusive as she is very private. Other friends all have spouses (with whom I’m also close) and we all hang out together. One couple has kids. All the females work together and are pretty close. We’ve managed very well to keep our work issues from affecting our friendships. I live with my parents who are in their 60s and 70s and we have a good relationship but I don’t want to hang out with them all the time. My friends don’t include me in things they do with their spouses etc. Like if it’s a holiday weekend and they do a cookout they don’t invite me. They go to a local street party and don’t invite me. They either don’t think to include me or just don’t. I don’t know which is worse….they didn’t think about me or didn’t want me around. If I say anything I get the feeling like they think I’m being petty and they say they didn’t even think about me. I tried being the one to initiate “anybody want to do anything this weekend?” Or “do you want to go to the street party?” In the past either I got no response or last minute excuse or even one time got into an argument and was told not everyone has money to go out all the time like me. It seemed if I asked no one wanted to go or could. But if someone else in the group asked then everyone wanted to. So I stopped asking and just wait for someone else to initiate. Which leaves me disapointed and feeling left out a lot. How do I get past this? Since I know I can’t change them …I can only change me. I’m pretty self confident and ok being alone but I love just spending time with my friends even if it’s at someone’s house byob style. Anyway…any advice you can give would be great!

 Sincerely,

You know my name, but they don’t.

——————————————-

Sweet reader,

Let me free you from your own head, even if it’s just for one full second. No one thinks about you at all. I do not mean this in the absolutely horrible way it sounds, only that it is a universal Truth. Especially in a Facebook-paced world, no one is going to hear you say anything unless you scream it at the top of your lungs, and I do mean this literally. You’re going to have to make phone calls, you’re going to have to move under your own power, and in the beginning, you’re going to HATE EVERY STEP OF IT.

That’s the first part. The complete first step is to acknowledge that you won’t get better by trying to change their behavior. Getting out of the house under your own power will give you the strength to make other friends, which is easier because they don’t know you enough to hate you yet. Believe it or not, I mean that in the most loving way possible. Old relationships thrive on being close enough to poke fun at each other without poking THE BEAR. That’s what I call my oldest friend’s inner personality. In fact, it’s a joke in my house… don’t poke the bear.

I will never stop poking the bear. She’s my oldest friend, like I said. However, there are a few rules you should learn before you go around poking bears. The first is that she’s going to be grumpy when she wakes up. The second thing is that once you’ve gotten her attention, you don’t need all of it. But the hard part is getting the bear’s attention, right?

Do your friends know how much you need them? Do you know how much you annoy them? I mean that in the nicest possible way because that is the balance that we all face when trying to make a friendship last over many years. How can I make enough noise to be heard without sounding like a rock concert? What is going on with me if I have to get THAT loud before people drop everything and come running? Because it is true, if your behavior is totally alienating, people will run not to spend time in your black cloud.

I don’t know your black cloud, but I know mine and It. Is. Fluffy. When I go off, I explode, and people absorb my emotions and it truly feels like Fallout. But at the same time, I also have an extremely long fuse… extremely… and I feel that I can start talking in my still, small voice and I never have to raise it as long as my friends make the pact with me to answer when I call. Because I’m so independent, I will rarely call them unless my nightgown is on fire. Want to know how rare that is? I don’t have a nightgown.

Of course your parents are not your friends or your therapists, and realistically, they don’t want to know that much about you. It is unfortunate that my life’s work is writing, because my parents are always going to know more about me than I know about them unless they want to share it. I feel like we are even. They listen to me vomit on the Internet, I listen to them during discussions about money. The emotions we share during those conversations are exactly the same, so I feel like if they’re willing to put up with my crap, I’m willing to put up with my own discomfort when it comes to talking about how to direct cash flow.

And that’s the kind of deal you will need to make with every friend you make, ever. If you want to be a good friend, you need to be able to say two things in your head all the time and have those two things not overlap, as if they occupy completely separate parts of your brain… because they do. I will say it in a serious way, and then I will joke with you to relieve the emotional javelin I’ve just thrown down.

Real Emotions

  1. I love you, and you are one of the companions I choose for this life thing.
  2. So help me God, there are days when I just want to murder you in your sleep.

Jokes You Make to Deal with Real Emotions

  1. You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met, inside and out.
  2. If you put an icepick through the front of my skull and twisted it around a little bit, I could still parallel park better than you.

Do you see what I mean?

Accept people for all of who they are- angels and morons. Accept that you’re an angel.

And a moron.

And that just has to be okay, because you’re a human, and so are all your friends. I really hope this helps you, and I encourage you to get help outside this letter. If you find that your behavior is stopping you from getting the results you want in your life, it’s probably time to talk to someone who doesn’t have a horse in the race. If you are broke, run to your pastor or to a 12 Step. I never thought I would say this, but one meeting was like group therapy and I loved it so much that I want to go back next week. I don’t feel that I need intensive therapy to deal with my old issues. I feel like I need to deal with my old issues so that I can have new issues. Life is progress.

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