Love is enough

I tend to think of myself as somewhat friendship disordered. I have never had a big crowd of friends, and even the ones I’ve had tend to be intense relationships that burn out over time. In my younger days, when difficulties in friendships cropped up, I—ever bullheaded straightforward—would bring up the issue and demand resolution (yeah, that works about as well as it sounds like it would, in case you were wondering), and if things weren’t resolved to my liking, that would more or less be the end of the friendship.

Why yes, I definitely AM a delight to have in your corner. Line forms to the left! No pushing or shoving!

With time, I’ve mellowed. I’ve had to. For one thing, I’ve realized that the perfect relationship, free of disagreements, doesn’t exist; and to either strive for perfection or settle for being lonely are two equally losing propositions. For another, the wisdom of age has finally taught me that other people handle things in other ways, and that doesn’t make them bad or wrong or even lousy friends. It’s like I’m growing as a person, or something.

This past weekend I was reading a book assigned to me for work purposes, and found myself blubbering over it like a jilted schoolgirl. Forty years of friendship maintained amongst a group of nearly a dozen women—it’s touching, it’s remarkable, and it makes me realize exactly how out-of-touch I am with the first half… hell, the first two-thirds, of my life to date. I don’t have ten friends from childhood. I don’t even have ten friends from college or grad school.

Well, let’s be clear: I have CONTACT with all sorts of people. Through the miracle of Facebook, sure, yes, I periodically do talk to a couple of people who were in my kindergarten class with Mrs. Hemseth. Two of my best friends from high school write on my wall occasionally, and I on theirs, but we only recently got back into touch and I wouldn’t call it a deep relationship. Facebook is kind of like a floating class reunion, and it’s a lot of fun at first, walking down memory lane, but then it sort of fades into the background. Wow, your kids are really growing up. Congrats to your husband on the new job. Hey, I like your hair like that.

Not exactly deep stuff, is my point. Not the sort of thing I was reading about, where time hadn’t eroded the bonds between these women at all.

I was jealous.

Otto and I sat and talked about it, while I tried to think who amongst my current friends has known me the longest.

[Sidebar: While it may not be true for other folks who are divorced, part of my neurosis over friendships is definitely heightened by my divorce. There was the matter of my ex spending considerable time trying to convince me of his opinion that I was simply so intolerant that I would never be able to sustain a prolonged relationship with anyone, sure, and my very real secret fear that maybe he was right, but also the fact that some people I had thought to be my friends either abandoned or downright turned on me in the wake of that particular crisis. I was already cautious when it came to relationships with others, beforehand. Six years later, I still feel like I'm navigating a minefield sometimes when it comes to interacting with others in positive ways.]

But anyway: Back to who has known me the longest, excepting family. The answer? Otto. Heh. We’ve known each other for twenty years this September. (Me: “And I’m so glad we finally figured this all out, because clearly I wouldn’t have been able to marry ANYONE ELSE, because the length of our relationship somehow assures me that you actually know me and I actually know you.” Him: “… okaaaaaaay….”)

Aside from Otto, when I recount my close friends, FEMALE friends, the tally is low. One good friend from back in New England. A few dear friends made through blogging, years ago, who remain my champion supports and hand-holders in time of extreme neurosis. And a handful of I-wish-we-were-closer-but-I’m-not-sure-how-to-go-about-it folks ’round here, women I adore and have good relationships with, but feel clumsy about strengthening those bonds in a way that doesn’t make me look needy or desperate.

(I’m okay with BEING needy and desperate, if I’m somehow able not to LOOK it. Because I’m logical that way.)

And so I sat there, wondering who I would call in a crisis; who would surround me if I needed it? Was I somehow lacking in the support I would need if push came to shove?

In relatively short order I snapped out of my little pity party, as I realized that although I don’t have a dozen friends who’ve known me my entire life, I do have just enough friends who take me as I am, and who would no doubt stand with me if I needed them to. And—perhaps more importantly—these friendships I have now are much stronger than the ones of my youth, because I no longer freak out over every little thing and then ditch anyone who’s displeased me somehow.

Which means that I’m pretty confident that in forty years, quite a few of these folks will still be around. In more than the saw-your-update-on-Facebook way. And that’s enough to make me realize that whether or not I have bosom buddies from grade school, I do have plenty, more than my share, when it comes to wonderful women in my life. And if they’re NOT around forty years from now, well, there will be others or the ones I have will be enough.

Right now is enough. Whatever comes next will be, too.

This Love Thursday, I’m grateful for my friends. I hope I’m enough for them, too.

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38 Responses to “Love is enough”

  1. 1
    Aimee June 4, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    This? Is awesome. I’m lucky to have a few really good friends that I’ve known for a VERY long time (the longest is a friendship that’s not at forty years yet, but it’s over 30 years; the next oldest started the first day of high school, so that’s (ahem) SOME number of years that is less than thirty; and then another friendship with someone I met through work that’s at 10 years and counting. But moving 3000 miles from all three of them has been BRUTAL, so I feel your pain about trying to find your people in a new place.

    And I know what you mean about the online relationship and not being sure how to make that leap. It’s… delicate. You don’t want to seem stalkerish. I mean, *I* don’t. ;)

  2. 2
    Megan June 4, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Resonates with me – I have no friends carried through from childhood, none at all. Worse, I spent the last six years carefully and consciously NOT making friends out of… I don’t know, some sort of self preservation? Basic idiocy? Probably the second. Yet just when I’m about to pull out my very largest, laciest handkerchief for a true pity-party sob fest I have to stop and realize how many truly wonderful people I have around me. You know, in spite of myself!

  3. 3
    exile on mom street June 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    Have you been in my head? Because it sounds like you have. I could have written this word-for-word (if I were as talented and pretty as you).

    It’s a tough thing, trying to be friends with women. I seriously don’t know how lesbians handle being *more* then friends with one of us…anyway, Happy Love Thursday!

  4. 4
    Gaylin June 4, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    I have 2 friends from grade 8 (1972) that I am in regular contact with. But only a few friends in my life right now and I am fine with that. I also went through that post-divorce loss of friends 25 years ago and got choosier after that. I also lost a lot of friends in my 20′s when they had kids and I didn’t. As if there was something inherently ‘wrong’ with me for not procreating . . .
    The friends I have now (including an ex-boyfriend) are there when I need them and available for the fun stuff just often enough. And yes they do put up with my foibles and I generally try to be absent when I am being too intolerant or cranky (peri-menopause is so fun).
    Happy Love Thursday to all.

  5. 5
    elizabeth June 4, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    I have never been the girl with the gaggle of girlfriends. ever. I’ve always marveled at the women that can do that, it is really hard. That said, I do have some once close girlfriends from high school and college that I’m still in contact with, just not so close anymore. It is hard when you live however many states away. I’ve come to realize that, for me, friends do seem to come and go and I work with what I’ve got.

  6. 6
    Jennifer Joyner June 4, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    Mir…I could have written this post. I feel the same way, and I think facebook has brought it out in me. I see all of my “friends” post pictures of their girls nights out or their vacations with their girlfriends and I think, “Who do I have like that in my life? I want that!”. I had a falling out with my childhood best friend a few years ago (we had huge ups and downs over the years) and she finally said to be “You just don’t know how to be a friend”. It really, really hurt. And it has made me examine my own actions instead of trying to assign blame to everyone else. I’ll let you know if it works for me!

  7. 7
    Tracy June 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    Obviously you are NOT alone. I don’t do well with girl “friends”. Women are vicious. I do have some friends but no one that I really hang out with. My husband is my best friend. All of my friends from childhood have moved away and over the years we’ve lost touch. I don’t do Facebook or any of that, just no time to keep it up. So, the friends I do have, you can count on one hand and they are mainly co-workers or from church. This is depressing me. What’s the name of the book you are reading? Maybe I can get some pointers on how to built lasting “girlfriend” relationships.

  8. 8
    Mike June 4, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    So then she posts something I simply MUST reply to, being one of the crew from the REAL olden days (although not of the female persuasion!)…one who’s been more absent than he should have been for a while, for probably some dumb reasons. Just droppping in to remind you that sometimes those who drift away are the ones to blame, not yourself! And to let you know that sometimes, even those seemingly a bit more removed, keep you on their own mental speed dials. Happy love Thu., Mir!

  9. 9
    Jenn June 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    Great book recommendation on the topic:

    Growing Friendships, by Tracy Klehn.

    You’ll love it. :)

  10. 10
    dad June 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    I’ve said it before but…You’ve come a long way baby!..and I knew you when.

    Thursday, as beautiful as usual.

  11. 11
    KathyM June 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    Totally hear where you are coming from. In fact I recently saw the movie “Bride Wars”, not great but in any case supposed to be touching and funny, but at one point they were talking about how you have to have that one person who has known you longer than anyone else and really understands you and I cried. I don’t feel like I have that. Not sure why, but women can be really catty and it’s hard to find people that you can relate to and be happy for when things are good, and commiserate with when things are not so good…a few good friends is more than anyone can ask for I think!

  12. 12
    kath June 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    I am a bit like you. I don’t have a big social circle. Moving many miles away from my two best friends and my sister was hard. I don’t know what I would do without a phone, the internet and a camera (oh and our blog) to stay in touch. In the meantime, I have some new acquaintances, but if I needed something, I would rely on my husband or sister-in-law who lives only 45 minutes away.

  13. 13
    Jamie AZ June 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    I recently read that book and really liked several of the insights comparing mens and women’s friendships. I don’t have a dozen women from high school that I’m still good friends with, maybe 3-4, a couple from the college years and then a handful locally. I’ve got a great group of ladies in an online-until-we-meet-in-person friendship going on 8 years now (and I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few of them in person!). In saying all of that, I don’t feel like any of my friendships are diminished since they haven’t lasted 40 years yet. I know many of them will last 40 years and beyond, and that’s what’s important to me these days. Especially as we get older and have kids, we have less time for cultivating relationships; I like to take the ones I have and work as I can on those, knowing the other ladies are in the same time-crunched boat I am, and we respect and appreciate that. I’m always up for new friends, but don’t feel like I have to seek them out so much as I did 15-20 years ago.

  14. 14
    Lylah June 4, 2009 at 3:24 pm #

    (((HUG)))

  15. 15
    Kelly June 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    no one has 12 friends that are their closest friends ever and have known them forever. whoever says they even have 12 genuinely close friends is lying, maybe to you, maybe to themselves. because the amount of actual time, energy and caring it takes to maintain a genuine friendship forces it to be limited to a small number of people. if you dilute that over 10 or 12 friends and become obsessed with numbers and how long and how many, then it defeats itself, because you can not actually really KNOW and CARE to that inner-circle degree about that many people. There’s a reason an inner circle is small.

  16. 16
    Lucinda June 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    I could have written this post (or something vastly similar) a few month ago when people came out of the woodwork on Facebook as our 20th reunion approaches this summer. I saw pictures of girls who were close in school and remain close to this day. I was sad and jealous as there was no one I could say I was friends with since childhood.

    Eventually I had the same realization as you. There are several people I am friends with that I have known 10-15 years. And I still have room for new friends, some whom I’ve met just in the past few years. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who has gone through this.

  17. 17
    Annie June 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    I have about 6 friends that live in Mass that I consider my best friends. Some I’ve know for 40ish years, some 20ish years. But out here in AZ, I have a LOT of female acquaintences (damn, no spell check!) It is really hard for me at 48 to get close to someone. They like me well enough, but would they really like me if they knew ALL my stories? The girls in Mass know my history and still like me! I really tried out here once, but I actually had to say to her ” I am voting you off my island”. We haven’t spoke since, and pass each other in the grocery store like stangers. Great post Mir. Happy love Thursday.

  18. 18
    Melinda June 4, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    I am totally picking up what you are putting down. There have been many times when I have mourned that I don’t have any childhood life long friend types like I see in the movies. It would be so nice to have someone you have known forever like that. However, there is something to be said about inviting new people into your circle as you grow and change.

  19. 19
    Flea June 4, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    Happy Love Thursday, Mir. You’re pretty.

  20. 20
    Jen Pollard June 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    Umm, yes, what you said. My high school reunion is this year and I go back and forth over and over if I want to go for this very reason. Thanks for putting my thoughts in prettier packaging. :)

  21. 21
    ccr in MA June 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    “Facebook is kind of like a floating class reunion”

    This description is perfect, and the main reason I hesitated so long to join Facebook. Thank you!

    My best friend and I met when we were five, and that is a good and long-standing relationship. But I’m not in touch with anyone from college, and with a couple of high school friends only in that Facebook way, so I have a sense of where you’re coming from. I think we’re doing all right, though.

  22. 22
    Dawn June 4, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Oh, such a tricky situation for some of us. A veritable minefield. I have finally given up on my oldest (junior high) and one-time dearest friend. It’s just too hard to stay connected. She has a telephone phobia, so we can’t chat on the phone. And a much larger family, so really is more busy when at home. And is terrible for corresponding either by snail mail or email. You can be having a sensible back-and-forth dialogue and suddenly, *poof!* she’s gone. Same with instant messaging. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when her ex-husband (the father of her two children) suddenly dropped dead and I called to offer condolences and just check in on how everyone was doing, and her current husband would NOT shut up in the background so we could talk. And she allowed it. Back when phones were wired to the wall, there wasn’t much you could do if a family member got a case of “ignoramus” while you were on the phone, but in this day of cordless phones, you only have to leave the room. After about 10 minutes of struggling through his constant interruptions to ask after her children and get details about the funeral and such, I gave up. Permanently. I could understand if we spent hours on the phone every week, but this was the first time I’d called in 2 years or more due to her phone phobia and someone had just died! I just can’t do the bending over backwards that is required to keep it going.

    Luckily, I have another dear friend from high school, who still loves me, as does her husband, so have that connection with the past, but they’re it. Also, luckily, I have wonderful co-workers.

    I find it’s hard to make friends in your 50s. People already have full lives and don’t want to go through that uncomfortable beginning period getting to know you. So while I have lots of friendly acquaintances, I don’t feel as if I have a huge number of friends either.

    So what I have basically commandeered your comments to say in 3,000 words that really only takes 11 words is, don’t feel bad. You have lots of company on this one.

  23. 23
    Karen June 4, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    Another awesome post, Mir. And I just picked that book up myself!

  24. 24
    Nelson's Mama June 4, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    My husband and I have a group of friends from childhood and high school that we are still in close contact with.

    Although we moved away from our hometown, where they are still live, we managed to remain members of the “tribe” for a long time. Nine years ago we moved even further away and that distance has caused us to become “exiles”.

    I joined Facebook and was excited to friend all of them and thought it would be a great way to stay in the loop with all of them. What I didn’t expect was to feel so hurt, left out and jealous…now I’m continually bombarded with pictures, posts and comments about all of the things that they are doing, without us. They make no effort to include us – we are no longer part of the “tribe”, it’s not mean-spirited on their part, but we are out of sight and out of mind.

    We now live in a another small town with established “tribes”, so making friends can be a tough proposition. I love making new friends, but I really liked those old ones too…

  25. 25
    Nicole June 4, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    Well-put. And I think I am going to use the phrase “Love Thursday” all the time now, especially since it comes after “Hump Day.”

  26. 26
    Annette June 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    Awwwww. I want to be your real friend…Does that count? I have one BFF from 5th grade. ( I will be 42 this year:)). My other good friends come because our kids are in school together and we are involved in a group bible study. Other very good friends that I have I don’t have time to keep in touch with regularly. But, I know they are good friends because they are not mad when it has been 6 months and one of us calls each other for something big or small and we pick up right where we left off. That’s the best kind of friends.

  27. 27
    mama speak June 5, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    I just went thru this exercise of stocking taking in the friend dept. due to a very, very bad situation. Something horrible was done to me and it became very apparent who my “real” friends were in the process. There aren’t many, a few are close by, a few are far away, but all are friends I could call in a pinch (and did). One was even on vacation and was upset I didn’t call her while gone. I realized that I don’t need a bunch of friends and they don’t need to be close (although one or two nearby helps) I just need to know that they’re there for me when I really, really need them, and they were.

  28. 28
    mama speak June 5, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    Oh, and I knew you were going to tell us you’d married your “best friend”. ;-)

  29. 29
    Stephanie June 5, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    Unfortunately, I identify with most of what you wrote, Mir. Luckily, I can count on my DH of almost 25 years, and, we are definitely “friends”, which is a good thing.

  30. 30
    Heather June 5, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    I am very lucky. My two closest friends are ones that I have been friends with since I was 5 and the other since 9. And I have a few other friends since Jr. High. But I have to say the ones I have made since I was 20 are great friends. I think when you get older you know yourself so much better. You know how you should treat your friends and how they should treat you. You also know life gets hectic and just because you don’t talk every day or week, etc, that it just means one of you are busy. My mom was right, with age comes wisdom. At 34, I feel like I know myself better now then ever.

  31. 31
    Joshilyn June 5, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    You are, bun. No worries.

  32. 32
    Katie in MA June 5, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    As I’m sure you know deep down, the other friends you’d like to be closer with probably feel the same – okay being needy but afraid to show it. Know what works for me? Have a crisis and just call them up and ask for help! I’ve made some of my best friends in the trenches. Not that I want you to have any more crises or anything. Just, you know, in case.

  33. 33
    ~annie June 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    I have one friend from elementary school, but her life has become so sad it’s hard for me to feel really connected. My biggest difficulty with making new friends is that unless the kids are all in the same activities and there is An Agenda (most often fund-raising) nobody wants to get together. What happened to “hanging out” and having fun? Bah, humbug.

  34. 34
    MomCat June 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    Too true. The idea of a dozen lifelong friends is such a novelty, so that’s why it appears as a plot for a book or movie. Today it’s a rarity, not because we can’t make friends, but because of our highly structured, scheduled, mobile, insular lifestyles. (Throw another adjective in there if you like!)

  35. 35
    Amy-Go June 6, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    Quality over quantity, Tulip. ;)

  36. 36
    CC June 7, 2009 at 4:38 am #

    LOVED your post (the opening one).
    OK, NOW—tell me how to meet other women, so I can make friends! I just tried posting on another site. Someone should start a ‘friendship’ site like eHarmony.
    Anyone out there? I’m a single mom, age 53, one teen, and live near Scottsdale, AZ. I’m a professional, very educated, but taking time to just be a mom right now. I like horses, movies, travel, deep conversations, & (hate to admit it, but…) shopping & lunch (how trivial), and just laughing.

  37. 37
    Dawn Hope June 8, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    What a great idea – and eHarmony for friends! I would give it a whirl.

    I identify with much of what you said, but by now (63 – did I just ruin your blog image by being an older reader?!)I kind of like my semi isolated life. I learned early in my life to withdraw in many ways, and that does make for loneliness. But I have done some recent work on my self,and am actually feeling safer in opening up to friendships, but have also learned that I kind of like my hermit ways! So I’m kind of teetering on the fence on this.

  38. 38
    Nancy Mehegan June 9, 2009 at 11:47 am #

    Great post. I’ve realized the same thing — how I didn’t hold onto friendships. And some friendships broke up over such “minor” issues, like they were only holding on by a fragile friend.

    Maybe it’s me — I am harsh when I feel wounded. And humans can wound. My bestest friend was furry – a part-Greyhound named Freddy (Fredreika was her forman name). I still love her. Dogs don’t betray you nor let you down.

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