You've heard it, I'm sure - the old adage that true friends are hard to come by, usually followed by some flowery stuff about holding onto them and how you must forward this on to prove you have them blah blah blah. (Who ever thought up the idea of email chain letters seriously needs to be shot!) I may not be that sappy, or gullible, but I do know the value of a true friend. One who let's you say whatever you are thinking - even the most bitchy of comments - and they are sitting there nodding their head in agreement or better yet saying the same thing at the same time. Or if they didn't say it, they love that you had the audacity to say it for them. A friend who is as good to you as you are to them and who you can count on for anything you need, whenever you need it.
I've been thinking quite a lot about friends lately.
I have a ton of friends, in lots of different categories, that I've picked up along the journey of my life as I'm sure everyone does. The friends from work who fade away when you no longer work together who you kind of recognize while you're out at lunch in the area; but the more time that's passed the less likely you are to say hello and then even when you're tempted, like yesterday, you don't because you can't remember their name. The friends you do things socially with which also changes over time since people mature (or don't), get divorced or married, have kids (or don't) and the things you do socially changes. The crazy loons I used to hang out with in my twenties wouldn't last two minutes with me now but I thought they were fun back when I didn't know any better. Childhood and high school friends - mostly made possible by Facebook for me. While I don't actually see them often outside the realm of FB I do get to see them living their lives and even sometimes comment and share old memories. Neighborhood friends, book club friends, writing friends, running friends - all sharing common interests and daily life happenings. True friends - those who no matter how long between spending time together never miss a step. I have a handful of these and I cherish the stolen cups of coffee bitching about life and work, cleansing lunches venting away all our troubles with our common views of life, annual poker games, conversations where we check each others sanity just to be sure it is still intact, phone calls staying in touch over the miles that separate, etc. My favorite are the ones who serendipitously enter your life - the parents of your kid's best friend, neighbors with so many things in common it's like they are clones of you, and people collected along the way who, when pressed, you can't even remember how you became friends because it feels like you just always have been. My very best friend is Hubby - and even if I had no other, that would be enough for me. Luckily, I also have siblings and parents and sisters-in-law I count as friends and who I couldn't live without. I even have friends who I didn't really want: the wives of hubby's buddy's - some who I had to endure through countless nights of not being able to hold their liquor, parents of Big Sister's friends at school who play-dates must be coordinated through, fellow dance mom's thrown together because our kids dance on the same team - although some also fit in the other categories after the fact, too, and the list goes on and on.
I'm particularly excited for an upcoming reunion with the three friends I hung out with the most and the longest in school. I haven't seen any of them in years and one I haven't seen since graduation who is returning home for a visit. We're getting the gang back together to catch up - fitting since I don't believe any of us made it to the twenty year reunion last summer. Again, thank you Facebook without whom it wouldn't be possible!
So with all these friends, the questions of the week are: 1) why spend time with people who I can't really be myself with? And 2) at what point do you just say 'No, thank you' to invitations and never give it another thought?
Here's a revelation about my true nature: I am a home body if left to my own devices. Seriously, I hope this doesn't surprise you. I work eight hours a day Monday through Friday and have to come home to be Mommy - another full time job. I run around most nights driving dance studio shuttle while juggling our social life and a toddler, I work out six days a week between the fitness center at work and our amazing gym, I have a book club and a writer's group that meet regularly, I have two different groups of women friends who make it a habit of getting together for dinner on a regular basis... you get the picture, right? And when I have a free evening or weekend what I really want to do - almost 100% of the time - is stay home with my husband and my kids AND DO NOTHING.
Lately, I haven't had the opportunity to do this much and it's starting to wear on my nerves. My life is so out of whack that my kid is wearing clothes from the very back of the closet because I simply don't have time to get the laundry done on a regular basis. We are talking the shirts that should NOT have made it through the last clean-out but were saved either at her pleading or because she might be able to wear it camping instead of ruining a nice shirt. With no time to recharge my own inner self, I can barely communicate effectively with Hubby and I am short with my kids way too often. So, starting today, this minute, I vow to start spending time with my favorite friend - myself - and not feeling bad about turning down invitations. Because when I try and spread myself too thin I only wind up hurting myself and those I love.
As for people who I have little in common with, just because they are nice and around doesn't mean that I have to spend tons of time with them. Because for me, to find myself just going through the motions of enjoying myself and then bitching about the loss of time that I could have been doing something I really WANTED or NEEDED to do later just because I didn't want to say "No" one more time is so not worth it. The bitch is rearing her ugly head and screaming "NO MORE!" Do I care that I will sound like a broken record that "sorry, we're busy"? Not for one second because guess what? I am! Always! Does this mean I won't ever spend time with people in this category who want to spend time with me? No. It just means I will be more selective in accepting invitations from now on.
I consider this new commitment as my way of staying sane trying to keep up with doing everything I've chosen to cram into my life in order to make it a full and fulfilling one while staying balanced within myself. Call it grounding, if you will... I'll be finding more time for doing nothing which will make me so much happier while I'm doing everything else!