On friendship

5/21/2016 08:28:00 pm

My parents' divorce unfolded along conventional lines. She got the furniture and the children. He got the beach house. A mutual split of items with sentimental value (as long time readers will recall). 

He kept the big car and the kayak. She kept all mutual friends acquired over the course of the marriage. 

My mother told me once that you have to invest in your friendships. 

I don't think I'm the best friend really. It's difficult for me to make and maintain connections with other people. I'm not good at superficial connections, but even with my oldest friends I sometimes find myself grasping for talking points. I would prefer to sit in companionable silence. 

I don't really do social niceties, which I think can come across as snobbery or distance, when really I just don't know how to keep to conversation moving, or I'm not sure what to say next. I think I lack empathy (unless talking about, or looking at pictures of puppers), but I have a set of learned responses that can keep things going for a while. I don't mind telling stories, but then I worry that I'm dominating the airwaves and coming across as pushy. Once at a party where I knew only 2 people, I found refuge on a quiet couch and declared to my sofa companions 'I'm no good at small talk, so I'm just going to sit here and say nothing. You are welcome to ask me questions'. It was surprisingly effective. But in short, it's exhausting. 

Sometimes I get so sad because my preference is to stay at home, a little crab in my shell, and yet I find Sydney so lonely and isolating. It frustrates me because I know that I need to put in the effort, but the thought of going out and putting myself about is overwhelming. I don't want to feel excluded, and yet passively (sometimes actively, when I bail on plans),  I exclude myself. 

Depression and anxiety are often self-perpetuating. You are anxious, therefore you cease to function normally. You stop going out, and you stop living life, and so you start to sink down into the black hole of hopelessness. And because you stop doing those things, you become more anxious contemplating doing them, and thus the cycle continues. 

That's why I made very few concrete friendships at university. In that environment it was so easy to find excuses, having to study, having to work. But I'm a procrastinator, so I wasn't studying; I was just sitting at home in my room, lonely, looking at the ceiling. 

When I think of my close friends, I know who they are, but my insecurities make me doubt my importance to them. That sinking feeling that perhaps you like someone more than they like you. It's like high school, played on a loop. 

And it's a terrible feeling to find out that you are less important to someone than you thought. That's happened twice in the last 18 months, indirectly. It didn't sting so much, it's just been a gradual feeling of disappointment. The realisation: oh, that's how it is?

Conversely, the realisation that you are valued is good for the soul, but it takes a lot of trust in your friends to actually let the penny drop. A sad fact of life is that direct demonstrations of something like the importance of a particular person are hard to come by. I think that's why the light bulb moments are so affirming. 

Invest in your friendships, new and old, because it's not until they're fading away that you realise how much you need them. 

Life is better when you can share it with other people. Just google 'friendship quote' and you'll see.  

You Might Also Like

0 comments on this post

Leave a comment...you know you want to...