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Only Child Syndrome and the Broken Friendship Trail

Posted by Sue on September 17, 2008 in Deep Thoughts, Life, Self-exploration |

Sizzle had a post recently that got me thinking about friends.

I can count my true friends on one hand. No, I take that back… it wouldn't even take up one hand. I'm not counting my family – Hubs and the kids – because they are on another level of friendship altogether. I'm talking about people I have actually interacted with in my lifetime who are physical beings, not blogosphere entities. Yes, I know you are my friends, but you, too, are on another level.

As a kid I always envied the group who gathered at the end of the senior year for pictures as the kids who had been together since kindergarten. My Hubs could be in a picture like that. My own kids could be in a picture like that. Me? No. We moved between kindergarten and first grade, between second and third, and near the end of fifth. I struggled in a new city with the tag-end of fifth grade (most of which I spent in the hospital getting my tonsils out) and sixth grade was a total bitch. I was always a good student, but was depressed by that move and finding myself thrown from small-town to big city school system where suddenly it was changing rooms for every class and new people in every group. I did have a couple of girls I played with, one who was a neighbor, in the third through fifth grade period. It was a constant whirl of girly-ness what with one girl of the trio always being "out" of the favor of the other two. Still? It was the first time I'd had anyone of my own age nearby who I could see practically on a daily basis… before my parents became "weird" and overprotective. That was my favorite place on earth and it was no wonder I was depressed after the move.

After we moved, I was introduced to a girl who was in our church and who I started going to youth church meetings with. Luckily, she was a very nice girl who took me under her wing and we became fast friends. Still? She already had a "best friend" that she, too, had grown up with since kindergarten, so I was really a third wheel once more. They tolerated me and we were friends, but I never got that bond with her that they had with each other. She ended up marrying, then divorcing, my ex-husband's best high school buddy (I introduced them)… then remarried and we exchange christmas cards. When I'm sending them. (Didn't do so well with that last year). Still? I haven't spoken to her in person for about 25 years. Seeing as she knew me through most of my parent's bizarre and abusive stages, she mainly sat back and thanked her lucky stars that she had her parents, not mine.

As an adult, I've not made many friends. The phase of my life where I went more "public"… aka "going out" … could be contributed to running into a girlfriend that I'd known back in that small town where I was happy. As adults, we connected and through her I met a couple of other women. One would become my maid of honor in my second marriage. The other would destroy the friendship I had with my maid of honor.

In my mid-adult life I met people through my work. Three of them became very close to me. Two of them ended up moving out of state, and although I tried to keep in touch with one of them, time and distance has made us both mute. The other… well, some things were said and things were done that could not be forgiven and there has been a wall between us ever since. The last still comes by to offer support and encouragement and although I love her very much we've lost the core of what bonded us together. She has best friends and a life in another part of the state that goes on without me and I feel awkward when we are together, so I go into avoidance mode (a blog friend once told me that I was not anti-social, just avoidant.)

I have one other adult friend who has patience beyond belief. We used to talk daily. Email, usually, but once a day if not more. She and I seem to connect. We both have farmer husbands and so both understand the life and the involved stresses. Although we don't see or talk to each other nearly as much as we used to, when we do… it is as though I saw her yesterday. She makes it easy. She doesn't mince words, she tells you how it is, and she has been through things in her life that give her great insight into the world around us. However, I don't see her often and wonder about that.

I am an only child, but I now have a large family. I have surrounded myself with the things that I enjoy. My Hubs, my family, my critters. I have more interests than I have time to do it all. I read, I play WoW, I cross-stitch, I knit, I crochet, I do rubber stamping, I paint, I garden, I write, I blog, I take pictures, I enjoy movies, music, and many varying television shows. I have an imagination and am not afraid to use it. I am often alone, but am not lonely.

I feel sometimes that I've left this trail of broken friendships down the path of my life. It wasn't intentional, it just sort of happened that way. I envy those who have the close friendships. Yet? I don't feel an emptiness in my soul where those bodies should be. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. For a little bit. Just a bit.

14 Comments

  • katie says:

    great post, sue! i never allowed myself to get too close to anyone. i have very few true friends because i trust very few people. i have a hard time letting anyone get close to me.

    hope you are having a great day! 🙂

  • Nicole says:

    I can relate. I have a lot of acquaintances but few real friends. I think it’s because I have high expectations and people often let me down.

    For the most part I don’t mind since during the week I am all about working and spending time with my husband and on the weekends we often have plans as well. So it would be difficult to fit a friend in there anyway, but sometimes I wish we had a small group of close friends just for those times when you want to have company over, or you feel like going out with some people to have a little fun.

    The problem is it’s hard to find people who a) share our interests and sense of humor b) don’t have kids, c) aren’t into drinking and d) will want to hang out occasionally but won’t be turned off by the fact that we have zero desire to be hanging out constantly or chatting with them on the phone every night.

    I want the fun without all the drama and maintenance. Is that too much to ask?!? LOL!

  • Lisa says:

    What you wrote. It describes me so perfectly also.

  • James says:

    Hi, I found your blog on this new directory of WordPress Blogs at blackhatbootcamp.com/listofwordpressblogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, i duno. Anyways, I just clicked it and here I am. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day. James.

  • Nat says:

    God, so me. I have women I adore in my life but few really close friends. More people I play with when I want to get silly.

    The Man is really my partner. He understands my need for alone, and my need for people, with him I can just be. I guess I’m just not sure I need the gf. I think once you have kids and a job, it becomes really hard to fit it all in.

    It is what it is. Things evolve.

  • Andrea says:

    I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years because as we grow and change, we drifted apart. Either I was evolving and they were not and that became frustrating. Or they evolved into someone I didn’t want to be around any longer. Making friends as an adult has been extremely hard for me. I expect to be treated the way I treat others and when that doesn’t happen I feel it’s pointless to try and keep a friendship where I’m not getting back what I’m putting in, if that makes sense.

  • Michael says:

    It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality. You know my track record. I float in and out of aquaintences just like I flowed in and out of new homes, schools and surroundings as a kid. I have had a close few true friends, some of which evolved out of sync, moved or passed on, or linger in the quiet background. I now have one true friend that I can just be myself around and although she lives a considerable distance away I find our relationship both equitable and comfortable hopefully on an equally blanced scale.

  • Michael says:

    Oh, and slap me wit an eye patch an call me Jack!Happy Pirates Day, AARGHHHH!

  • Carrie says:

    Don’t feel badly about this. You are doing just fine. Most people live as you do. Very few close dear friends. Some can see each other all the time but it takes effort and hard work. You could have an event once a month where you meet for drinks or coffee or shopping together. Just fun downtime with your girls.

  • sizzle says:

    I don’t think you should feel guilty. I know a lot of people who have only a couple of close friends. Nothing wrong with that.

    I had my tonsils out when I was 10 too. 😉

  • pat says:

    Me too Sue…I have let friendships away at various periods of our lives….I am so jealous when I read about women and thier “best friends”…

  • Arthur Dent says:

    Sorry, M’Lady, I have been on hiatus for some time now and relocated to a new locked address due to work entanglements. No, nothing from my blog, rather that insidious Crackbook.

    I’m in the process of re-prioritizing, and am back to the blogsphere. I’ve missed it, but the best part is I now have dozens of my faves, like this blog, to catch up on.

    Just add a “2” to my old address. I think I’ve added your e-mail address to allow you access.

  • Day Traveler says:

    A very true to heart post, Sue.
    I must say that I resemble this in many ways. I think a lot of men do. I have rarely let people come close to me as an adult. I don’t really know why but I suppose that I could classify myself as a loner. It was very much different for me when I was a kid. Had lots of friends then. We couldn’t wait for an opportunity to ride bikes, go fishing, play Army, go swimming in the river. Just be together. These days, most of the time, I am very much content with my own company. It would be nice to know that I had some close guy friends that I could call if I needed help. Car broke down on the interstate, for instance. Someone to just hang out with every once in a while. The problem with that though is one becomes responsible for their lives as well as your own. Sometimes, I don’t know if I can take responsibility for another person. Ex-wife, children, mother/brothers/sisters, lady friend, co-workers all needing me to be there for them. I think that I’m sort of a stable ground kind of person and many that aren’t seem drawn to it.
    Life long friends. Unconditional love and acceptance. Always there. Semper Fidelis. Sounds good.

    I really like your blog.
    Have a good one.
    Day Traveler

  • Becky says:

    Being an Army brat, I have to admit that I think I’m pretty lucky at how many people that I’ve kept in touch with. But that being said, I feel like these are all really good friends, but I don’t really have the Sex and the City-type of relationship where I have a core group of friends that would do anything for me.

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