Saturday, April 11, 2009

2355 Keeping friends

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Another blogger brought up a topic today that has me thinking. It's also a topic Piper and I discussed a few weeks ago. Making and keeping friends.

Piper is still in active friendships that started in elementary school (and he's in his early 60s now). It's a bunch of guys, about ten of them I think, who went all the way through elementary and high school together, and then somehow all managed to keep in touch. They all get together several times a year. They take vacations together, in groups of couples. They help each other in business. Nothing any of them has done or neglected to do is enough for the others to abandon him; they actively drag a miscreant back, slap him upside the head, and then keep going. The brotherhood seems to be stronger than a fraternity or gang.

That blows my mind. It is completely outside my experience, even outside my realm of possibility!

The discussion came up with Piper when I had the IBC scare and it occurred to me that I had no local friends that I could ask if I needed help getting to radiation or chemo treatments. I have acquaintances that I like to spend time with, but no one I could ask to give up time for me. When you come right down to it, I have no close friends.

Of course, Piper immediately volunteered to take me to six weeks of daily radiation if I should ever need it, which is awfully nice of him, and probably why he has so many close friends. But of course I would be reluctant to ask it of him, which, when you think about it, is probably one reason why I have so few friends.

He asked why I don't make or keep friends. They're very important to him. I said probably because I'm lazy, and maybe a little selfish. I'm not willing to put in the effort it takes. I'm not willing to put up with drama.

I'm mostly quite happy with my own company, and friends can put so much demand on you, and dump so much crap on you, that it doesn't seem worth the effort. He nodded at that. Yes, he can see that with me.

I'm not willing to ask anyone for help. I don't like being "beholden", and don't want to put others in that situation, either. I'd rather pay a handyman when I need help, and owe nothing more than money, and I'd rather volunteer to help strangers who then owe nothing to me. Don't tell me people don't think in terms of debts! If you have invited someone to your house multiple times, but they haven't invited you to theirs, what's your reaction? If they have a party and don't invite you, what's your reaction? Everyone wants tit for tat. People DO keep score.

If I want to go somewhere or do something, coordination with another person is messy. It's easier to go alone, set my own schedule, and I don't have to compromise on any choices. Of course, once there, I wish someone could be temporarily teleported there, just for a bit, without any of the complications. Sometimes you need to laugh or marvel with someone else.

Part of it goes back to my childhood, I guess. From kindergarten to 12th grade, I was in something like 14 different schools. I was always the new kid, an outsider. Others who had the same experience learned to make friends quickly. I didn't, and it may have been because I was "different". I was always much MUCH smaller than everyone else in my class, therefore different, and also much smarter but not smart enough to hide it, and that combination is fatal. (It may also have been because my family was completely dysfunctional, and I knew I wasn't "worthy".)

With the internet, it's possible to locate people known decades ago. I've tried, and I've had a very strange experience, both from friends located, and from myself.

I had two very close female friends in high school, and three fairly good male friends, whom I have managed to locate and have attempted to contact through notes in Christmas cards and emails. I've received in return total silence from all but one of the guys, and after an exchange of perhaps two emails each, that contact petered out.

I had two very close female friends in college, and a few male friends. Again, no response to repeated contact attempts - except one male who became a minister, and whom I have managed to keep up with, and one female with whom I was not that close at all.

And so on over the decades. There are one or two people here and there, like ex-coworkers who have moved away, the once-a-year letter kind of thing, but there's no deep connection to anyone.

I've got cousins, but since we left our respective families, there's been next to no contact. In fact, I've spoken with only three cousins in the past forty years, and that was at an aunt's funeral. One of them and I did correspond for a short time, but it petered out when she moved to England.

I have two younger brothers I haven't seen or spoken to in nigh on twenty years, and one remaining younger sister. The sister and I got reacquainted a few years ago, and that's looking good. She's in Florida. Given my tendency to alienate everyone close that I'm not sleeping with, that distance is probably a good thing. (Sometimes I think the only reason I haven't alienated Piper yet is that he's still hoping.)

Nothing else you could call close. No one. The few friendships I attempted to cultivate in my adult life mostly ended badly. Gossip. Nastiness. Accusations. Sometimes I think I attract crazy people.

Locally, I have acquaintances, many of whom I truly enjoy. But again, there's nothing strong there (except maybe Piper). A few years ago I decided I really needed a close female friend to ram around with, and First Woman and I discovered some common interests --- and all that attempt did was to prove to me, again and for good, that sometimes friends are more trouble and angst and pain than I care to endure.

It's just too much trouble.


Wondering Woman said...

I've been thinking along the same lines and my friendships sound pretty much like yours. It's almost impossible to form the kind of relationship I wish I had with a friend. The old ones disappear, the new ones never materalize. I try to stay in touch, they back off. I wish the world felt cozier, smaller........... it's sad, strange, and yet hopeful... we reach out through the internet to people we've never met, trying to connect.

the queen said...

That's something I hope won't happen to me, just from watching mom and her band of frineds. She lost a lot of friends at one point, then she dug up a new set.

I have found success with the heartless cows, because they have just the right amount of insensitivity. They are low maintentance; we all insult each other directly and indirectly.

Badass Nature Girl said...

Wow. I feel the same way you do on so many points and I mean that from both sides of the fence. Some of it's them, some of it's me, but you're totally in my head on this one. I can also relate to the attracting of crazy people, and I have a t-shirt that says "What am I? Flypaper for freaks?!" In Piper's case though, maybe it works because there's a group shouldering every thing, and they're males. I typcially get along better with males. I'm sorry, but I do not have any nice outcomes from trying anything with a large group of women. And in the case of you and me, we're trying for the closeness, for that collision, on a one on one basis, therefore, it's just us shouldering the BS when the other one is crazy or such. I just gave some one two years of my life, trying to be a friend to them and their mental illness was just too much. I recently just walked away about a week or so ago. I find most friends are just too much for me, I get overwhelmed by them easily. But that doesn't override the belief in me that it doesn't have to be this way. There has to be someone out there that can give us the closeness without the drama and being energy vampires, but I've no idea why I can't find them.