Monday, 31 March 2014
Friendship - The Two-Way Street That Wasn't
This quote, sent to me by a dear friend last week, rings so true for me lately. She sent it to me after a long discussion about friendships and family relationships, and how they grow and change as we get older.
Wait, maybe I need to re-phrase that. Not necessarily how friendships/relationships grow and change, but how our views of those relationships change with the wisdom of age and experience.
We get to a stage in our lives when we've seen friendships come and go, suffered a few (or more!) heartbreaks, lived and learned, screwed things up a few more times and then lived and learned again. And at that point, whenever it may be, we realize our own worth. We realize that we, as friends, deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. The old adage "Treat others as you wish to be treated" comes to mind. And we realize that we have been hanging onto these friendships, not because they are of value to us and enrich our lives in some way, but out of sheer habit!
Now, don't get me wrong. We care about these people. Very much. Some of them have been in our lives since childhood, others only a few short years. But something drew us together. Something fused that bond of friendships, beyond just mere acquaintance. Something about that person made you feel like they would have your back, like you could call them in the middle of the night, like they would show up when you needed them, like they would babysit your child when the sitter cancelled last minute, like they would mind your pets while you went on vacation, like they would be there for you NO MATTER WHAT. And not because they HAD to, but because they WANTED to! You would do all of the above for them, and yet........
As the years go by you realize that although you would watch their children in a heartbeat, they are too busy to watch yours. That although you would care for their pets while they were on holiday, it is too inconvenient for them to care for yours. That although getting together and spending time with them is a priority for you, it is not for them.
And that's when it hits you. This is Friendship - The Two-Way Street That Wasn't.
I'm not referencing one particular person here a-la "I bet you think this song is about you" :) but I noticed that as I get older, and some would say wiser, that there are several relationships that have been a part of my life for many years, that fit this One Way Street definition.
The sad part is that I don't think these people even realize that they are coasting along on my One Way Friendship Street. And, to be perfectly honest, I have not given them any reason to doubt our friendship. I text or call them regularly to chat. I make sure to "like" the appropriate pics and life events on their Facebook page. I invite them to parties and get-togethers. I make plans with them to go for coffee, drinks, dinners, etc. And I am there for them - ALWAYS - if they need me. After all, that's what friends do right?
The phone and text conversations are always initiated by me. The party and get-together invitations are one-sided. The plans to get together for drinks, coffee, etc never come from them. And I realize that maybe I can't count on them if I need them. They do send me the obligatory "likes" on my Facebook page, but so does that guy I went to public school with that I haven't seen in 30 years, so I'm not sure that counts as a true sign of friendship.
I believe in my heart that these people DO care about me and DO consider me a friend. And yet, they have let these relationships coast along for many years with little to no effort on their part. So then I ask myself - is that my fault? Did I put in too much effort, thus teaching them that they don't have to? After all, Dr. Phil always tells me, you teach people how to treat you. So have I inadvertently created this dilemma? This collection of friends who feel that I will call them, text them, visit them, plan coffee with them, etc. Me, who is always eager to plan a party or a BBQ or a group trip to hear music at a local bar. Have I, as the type of person who enjoys the planning, created a mindset amongst my friends that I will always put in all the effort and all they have to do is show up?
And this is where I found myself about 6 months ago. Wondering if that was the case. Had I actually created this? Believing for all these years that I was doing what good friends do, and yet all the while teaching the people around me that their presence was appreciated but their effort was not required? How sad. For them and for me.
And so........I backed off. I left the friendship door wide open (because I do love and care for these people) but I backed up the proverbial bus and left the ball in their court. Because I deserve the same love and respect and kindness in return, that I have shown to them all these years.
I'm not punishing anyone. I genuinely want these people in my life. I have not pushed them away. I have merely walked to the middle of the field and am asking them to meet me half way.
And so here I stand - door of friendship wide open - waiting to be met halfway on this Two-Way Street of Friendship.
~ The Lazy Gourmet