Casual F(riendship) Buddies

Jason told me I didn’t know how to be a casual friend. This after my long-winded self-indulgent diatribe, on why I feel like I’m the person that does all the planning and reaching out in my friendships and I still never get to see anybody, because everybody is too busy all the time!

Before you’re offended dearest friend that probably does try to make plans with me and I’m always busy or was always busy, trust me, I am and I was, I swear.

We’ve all felt like that at some point or another. We have. I know this to be true because I’ve read the countless status updates on Facebook regarding this exact theme.

The truth is, when I wasn’t married or a mother it was really easy to just hang out with friends. Drive anywhere to meet up, any hour of the day or night and still have time to work a job, sleep, eat, and be generally merry.

Now that everyone’s a bit older, it’s a GODDAM miracle to even plan a phone call.

When I was still going into an office it was a lot easier. I became friends with my officemates. We ate lunch together, gossiped on coffee breaks, met up outside for quick jaunts to stretch our cramped desk legs, planned post-work workout sessions, and sometimes there’d be a happy hour and then home. Don’t fool yourself, comrades, working for “The Man” can be amazing!

Now that I work from home, independently, I’m alone, but for my kid when he’s not at daycare, and my husband who’s doing the same thing I am. And while we adore each other’s company – hence we put a couple rings on it – it’s not the same as meeting up with girlfriends on the regular, and I miss that. I do.

I don’t have it anymore. People keep moving far away, growing in their professions, and meeting mates that take them away from friendships. And I’m happy that life is taking them on these paths. I am. I am happy for them. But where are they during those in-between moments and why aren’t we together?

Let’s be honest I’ve never been very good at being a girls’ girl who plans “Girls’ Night” and weekend “get-aways” for the crew. I’ve never even had a crew. I never even went away on spring break in college – I worked… as desktop support at the on-campus computer lab. So, I don’t have an awful-secret-I-know-what-you-did-last-summer blackmail to bind anyone to me in a relationship.

And my history of making and nurturing friendships is hazy. It took years of therapy and overcoming a confusing upbringing to understand why, how, and what to look for in a friendship, which boils down to two things:

1 – Stay away from people with BPD and

2 – Stop trying to fix people with BPD.

Then, once I had my baby, I found out that I really don’t have that many deep and personal friendships. Because when I could no longer be the one to reach out and continuously coddle, listen, and make my time in our friendship yours BECAUSE I have a baby that needs me and frankly with all the hormones that were driving through my body, and an ill mother, and no familial support, I needed you and you weren’t there.

That’s right, nobody called. Nobody showed up. No friends checked in, regardless of whether they’d been through it before or not. And let me be frank, you don’t notice that I’m not in your life anymore. If you did you’d call or text or try to make plans.

Then I needed someone, I needed someone very badly to come and tell me I was okay. I texted a lot of people (I called too, but you know – we push that shit to voicemail) and mostly got the same response:

“I’m so busy maybe we can meet up for a drink in the next few weeks.”

“Good to hear from you. I’m super busy right now.”

“Ohmygosh, I’m so happy to hear from you. I am SOOOOO busy right now.”

“I’m busy, but maybe like next week? I’ll let you know my schedule.”

“Do you want to go to yoga with me? Yeah? Great, I’ll let you know when I’m free.”

“Do you want to grab a drink, I’m free Thursday at 6pm.”

“I’m having drinks with people at 6, come if you can.”

“We’re having drinks, maybe 6/7ish, come if you want.”

“Drinks at 6, come by. Or don’t.”

I was a new mom, nursing and alone at 6 PM with an infant and frankly, I wasn’t ready to leave him with a babysitter. I just wanted someone to come over and be my friend.

Embarrassed, but also scared of being alone, I called my neighbor. She answered, no voicemail. And I hesitantly asked her if she could come over and hang out with me. She did, immediately, no questions asked, and she sat next to me on the couch and she told me all the gossip in her life and I laughed for the first time in what had seemed like a long time. And she held my baby and she didn’t dump a single problem on me. She was the best a friend could ever be, and incidentally, still is.

And I realized as our lives change we really do grow up and grow apart, just like couples in marriages. While there’s no divorce in friendships it sure does feel like the same alienation process, the same pain, the same dividing of mutual friend assets.

We move on and realize our needs have changed. I need my friends to be physically present in my life. I need the tangible. I need to feel your energy next to mine. I need hugs and non-verbal cues, things that can only come from being in each other’s personal space.

And I believe that some friendships, despite their current distance, physically or metaphorically, are worth the extra work and patience, because they are worth it in the long haul. But those are few and far between.

And while it often feels deeply personal, it’s not. It has nothing to do with me as a friend. It has everything to do with them and their life, and what they’re going through. I need to move on from that, them, and understand that being a casual friend is okay because in the long run my feelings will be far less hurt.

 P.S. Update: Girls’ Trip scheduled in May with my old crew.

P.P.S. Forgot I had a crew.

Author: Jaime Parker Stickle

Writing all the words all the time from my midwestern-polite pov (Michigan born and raised), to my Californian heart (I hope I never leave)... we'll call me a passive-aggressive do-gooder!

6 thoughts on “Casual F(riendship) Buddies”

  1. I went thru this and I don’t have children or a husband – but everyone else does… So. Yes. Adult friendships are difficult.. But keep in mind too – people like myself with unconventional schedules, worry about your time availability too. I want to call but think, is= mini beebs up, eating, bathtime? You are however one of the most important people in the world to me. Although we live 2500 miles away – you are my sunshine & I value your support & friendship dearly! I love you sticks!

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  2. I loved this, it is so relevant right now and so true. I often said after I had children that meeting new friends was like dating, in every awful, uncomfortable and vulnerable way. It’s worth the work, much like dating, to go on the “dates”. I hate that life today is so fast that no one has time to live it. I truly believe that you make time for what is important. I guess we all need a shift in priorities. Thanks for the reminder… xo

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