Reality of Friendship

10 Jun

Have you ever wondered who would show up to your funeral?
Hold a going away party.  There you will discover who values you and why they value you.  Those who show up, and those who remain absent will tell you more about yourself, your relationships, and how you are perceived than any conversation ever will.

I have debated whether or not to share this because it opens myself up again to being misread and misunderstood, and heaven forbid if I sound like I am whining.  However, I know I am not the only one who goes through this with every PCS/move transition. 

This last weekend, DH and I had our going away party- a simple all-day, come-as-you-are, come-and go-as-you-please cook-out in hopes we could see all our friends (who all have very busy lives) before we leave the area.  Granted, we have a couple more weeks.  However, with the pack-up and pack-out still in the works, a house that is still on the market, jobs for us both to still put in time with, a kiddo to keep entertained during summer vacation, and a million other small errands and chores, we are just not certain that we will be able to visit everyone we would like to.

Now, here is my heartbreak.  Every single person I invited to come to the cookout is someone whom I care about for many different reasons.  Every single person I invited is someone I call friend, someone I have trusted, someone I have respected, someone who has impacted my life in a positive way since being part of this community.  Yet, from my invite list, only a few of my friends showed up. 

Please don’t get me wrong.  I had so much fun seeing those friends and their families.  As I said, each of my friends is so uniquely special to me.  I enjoyed catching up.  I enjoyed laughing and reminiscing over the past four and half years.  I enjoyed cuddling with kids whom I have come to love almost as my own.  I enjoyed hearing about the new things in my friends lives, and sharing the excitement of our move with them.

However, so very,very many were missing.  OBVIOUSLY missing.  Some were missing with no explanation~ no calls, no texts, no apologies, no excuses- nothing.   Worse, some flat out lied instead of just saying they did not want to or could not come.  And that, frankly, heartbreakingly, shatters my perceptions of all these other friendships. 

I apologize over and over because I know I am a hermit.  Yet, hermit or not, I bind myself to people.  This weekend, I realized that my perceptions once again are not reflective of reality.   Just because I consider someone to be a friend does not necessarily mean they share that feeling regarding me.   I realized that my values that define friendship do not involve what someone can do for me, though I am told most friendships do value what you can do for someone.  Simply put, I consider you a friend if I find that I can trust you, respect you, learn from you, laugh with you, and be honest with you.   I consider you a friend if I feel I can trust my kid with you, if I can confide in you, if I can share my faith/politics with you even knowing we disagree on those issues.  So, yeah, I considered many people to be friends, when in reality, I am seeing, most of them were not “friends” so much as “acquaintances” with whom I shared a good experience. 

Since Saturday evening, as I was contemplating the glaring absence of so many of my favorite people, I came to realize my error.  It does not matter that I love those people.  It does not matter that I have given everything I am able to those relationships.  What does matter is THEIR perception.  If I have ever slighted them (without meaning to, I can assure you), then they have better friends to move on to.  If I have ever missed an event, then “tit-for-tat” comes into play.  Why would they come out to say goodbye, when I have missed any of their events?  Why would anyone consider me a friend, when I am such a publicly (ironic isn’t it) proclaimed hermit?

Yes, it is true.  I treasure solitude.  Not because I do not like people.  On the contrary.  I treasure solitude because I do not want to be a burden on anyone.  With all that goes on in my life because of health issues, I set myself apart because I do not want to be the one that is always complaining.  I do not want to be the one who always needs help.  I do not want to be the one who always has an issue.   And as much as I fought not to be those things, I have effectively cut myself off from the people I assumed understood.  I have worn on their patience.  I have taxed their understanding.  I have let them down too often without even realizing it.

Then again…  I am reminded, as I am with every PCS, that most relationships are only for a season.  Some relationships cannot handle limited communication.  Some relationships were only ever one-sided.  Some relationships were nothing more than a lesson learned.   And a very few relationships, like I share with some of those that did come out for the cook-out, truly do stand up to my hermit tendencies, forgive it, accept it, and will last despite my best (worst) efforts to kill them.   For those relationships, whether they be with people from here in San Angelo, or relationships from over the years, I am so deeply thankful, and I know, despite the pain,  I am truly blessed.

My biggest lesson here is to assume nothing.  I learned long ago not to expect from others what I expect from myself.  However, assuming people feel about me the same as I feel about them when they really do not is a very rough lesson to learn. 

2 Responses to “Reality of Friendship”

  1. Christina Borden 15 June 2013 at 7:39 PM #

    Oh, Meloni! I KNOW you would have been here! Thank you so much for your affirmation! I adore you! I miss you so much! You are absolutely among those I know consider me as much a friend as I consider you to be a friend. I love you! You inspire me- always have… 🙂

  2. meloniflickinger 14 June 2013 at 10:50 PM #

    Just to let you know, our relationship was not only for a season. It CAN handle limited conversation. It is not one-sided. It is much much more than a lesson learned. It totally forgives and accepts your "hermit tendencies". It will last despite your best (worst) efforts to kill it. For this relationship, I am also deeply thankful and truly blessed!If I lived there, I would have BEEN THERE! :)Love you and miss you!!Meloni

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