When I was younger, I had lots of friends. We did things, went places, often worked together, spent time together and got to know one another.
In a movie one time, a character described friends as just a person you know that's eventually going to ask for a 5am ride to the airport. That character didn't have any friends.
But, I had lots of friends. And, eventually, they all asked for the equivalent of a 5am ride to the airport. And, the drawback to rising early and giving that dreaded ride to the airport is that it frees people up to ask for more rides.
Now, theoretically, all should balance out because eventually I'm going to need several 5am rides to the airport, right? Except that gradually, over a period of about 3 years, fewer and fewer of the people I'd gotten up early for were willing to get up early for me.
So, you get that I'm not literally talking about rides to the airport, right? Sometimes it was "can you watch my dog". Sometimes, it was "can you bake me a cake for a party that I didn't invite you to". Sometimes, it was "can I stay at your house"...and then they didn't leave...for weeks! Once I even had to pay to get a friend's brakes repaired before he could drive himself home AND GET OUT OF MY HOUSE.
And, forget about having a real relationship. My "friends" were great at only introducing me to people that would never last. And, anybody that I met that I might make a lasting relationship with were picked apart until nobody would want them.
In the late 90's, too many of my friends decided to "party like it was 1999" and turned to drugs and alcohol. And, when I couldn't help them or protect myself from them anymore, I had to let them go.
Letting people go was the most empowering feeling in the world. No longer being responsible for them. No longer taking care of them. No longer lending money. No longer being available for a 5am ride to the airport that would never be returned. Those things gave me power over my life. And, it freed up so much time that I was able to take up knitting and gardening and crochet and quilting. I had time to find a good relationship, with a good man, and nobody was trying to sabotage it. And, it eventually freed up enough of my time that whatever higher power is in charge of the universe sent us a child to raise.
So, that's old friends. What about new friends?
First, I've learned to be very selective about friends. And, I don't have many. Rob is my best friend and we share and laugh. And, I'm glad to offer a ride to the airport because I know that when I need one, I can get a ride to the airport. Even at 5am. Everyone should be in a relationship with their best friend. It makes so many of the little things about being that closely involved so much easier when you're with someone you can talk honestly to.
I have other friends. I have friends at the quilt store that are close enough to always be interested in what I'm working on, but distant enough that they'll never ask for money. I have friends at work who know me well enough to know what I like to eat, but distant enough that I never have to cook for them. I have friends that are neighbors and we are friendly enough to share plants and discuss pruning trees that cross the property line, but distant enough that we don't party together.
Someone once said that good fences make good neighbors. I think that good distance makes good friends. But, I also know that I'm missing out on some comeraderie. I read a couple of posts yesterday about a quilter that got together with two friends and sewed all day, laughing and sharing. They had so much fun that they got together the next day for more laughing and sewing. No demands, no expectations. Just people that enjoy one another's company.
I want friends like that. One day, I hope I will have them. But, I also know that the distance I put between myself and others served a purpose. It is a protection. But, I also keep myself open to running into that perfect person and forming a lasting bond over shared interests and mutual independence. I've had a couple of tries, but so far, nothing that has lasted the test of extended time.
And, I also have my blog friends. Friends I haven't met face to face yet, but that I bond with over mutual interests of hobby and family. Those are safe friendships. Friends who like me because of who I am, not what I can give them. Friends who are willing to share with me and friends I am willing to share with in a balanced way. Friends I can be honest with.
It's important to know myself. To know my limitations and my vulnerabilities. And, then it's important to create a way of life that accommodates those limitations and vulnerabilities and also takes advantage of my strong points. A limitation I found was that I let friends take advantage. So, I got new friends. Easy solution. But, it took years of learning to value myself to get there.
If you have trouble finding balanced friendships, don't give up. But you don't have to keep putting out, either. Give somebody else a try. You might find just what you're looking for. And, if you need some time between old friends and new friends, take that time. It's not as bad as it sounds to be friendless while you take some time to make you better.
If you have a thousand friends, stop bogarting the good people. Introduce some of them to me!
And, that's what I'm thinking about on this Way Back Wednesday. Have a great day, friends.