In which I lament my lack of friends

I’ve been thinking about friends lately and wondering if I have any.  If someone threw me a surprise party (please, don’t you dare), would anyone come?  If I died, would the church be empty during my funeral?  If I had to deal with a tragedy and had to call someone, who would I call?  Who would call me?  Would anyone call me?

I have a lot of acquaintances.  I’ve managed to meet people from one coast to the other and have a lot of folks on my Christmas card list.  I’m in touch with people I’ve known since elementary school and have connected with college classmates.  I know people.  People know me.  I have Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

But I have this nagging feeling that I am out of the loop, as if everyone else is making plans to do things that don’t involve me.  Delusional?  Just the facts?  I imagine the truth is somewhere between the two.

I just think everyone is having more fun than me.  I have turned into a self-centered adolescent with age spots and a sprinkling of gray hair at my temples.  I’m feeling sorry for myself and wondering what, exactly, is wrong with me.  (Please, that’s a rhetorical question.  No answers necessary.)

What is wrong with me?

When my friends went on family trips, my family broke apart.

While everyone else was partying, I was in the school library.

When my fellow brides were getting pregnant, I was busy being infertile.

When my babies were babies, I was the oldest mom in the church nursery.

When my college friends’ children were going off to college, my youngest was starting kindergarten.

I am always out of sync, somehow.  I’m too old.  I’m too fat.  I’m too quiet.  I’m too busy.  I’m too serious.  I’m too cynical.  (My hair is driving me crazy.)  I’m too religious, not religious enough, too introverted, not introverted enough, too ambitious, not ambitious enough.  I like to be alone but I’m so lonely.

I’ve had friends in the past, friends who listened to my stories, who confided in me, who telephoned to chat while we both stood at our kitchen sinks washing dishes and sharing our random thoughts.  I miss that.

I can’t seem to get past the acquaintance stage anymore.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.

All I know is that if I had to round up enough people for a party, I couldn’t do it.

Not that I even like parties, but still.  It’s the idea.  If I wanted to celebrate, who would celebrate with me?  If I were to mourn, who would mourn with me?

I know that when I’m feeling blue like this, when I feel alone, the solution is to reach out, to find someone else’s need and meet it.  To be a friend to someone else.  I know.  I do.

But I kind of wish I were just born an extrovert, one of those who seems to be a human magnet for other people.  Can that be learned?  I need to learn.

I tell myself that it’s the stage of life I’m in . . . and I try not to notice that other people in this stage of life have plans and people and places to go.  Who has time, anyway, when you have four kids, a full-time job, a full-time husband (ha), three cats, a half-finished novel, ivy which will not stop creeping and laundry which does not wash itself?

Well.  If I threw a party, would you come?  If Idied, would you cry?  If I stopped whining, would you cheer?  (Don’t answer.)

I know I’m silly.  I’ll likely regret this tomorrow, but maybe now that I’ve said it, I can stop obsessing and carry on.  Cheer up.  Things could be worse.  (And then I cheered up and things got worse.  Ha ha.)

* * *

(I owe emails to people.  That proves I have friends and if they read this, they’ll wonder if they don’t count somehow . . . but, of course, I’m not talking about them . . . just about the people in my immediate orbit, the ones who I would call if I were to throw a party, not that I ever throw parties, the ones who don’t exist here, not on a deep, intimate level anyway . . . which I’m sure is my fault because I am so guarded.  I’m sure that’s it.)

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In which I lament my lack of friends

22 thoughts on “In which I lament my lack of friends

  1. Ah, the story of my life as well! It’s almost scary, how limited my orbit is anymore. My life is so consumed with caring for the grandboys I think I’ve forgotten the art of adult conversation. I am time-less. Time-starved. And I read somewhere that as we get in to middle age, it becomes even more difficult to make and keep new friends. Too much effort. And too much time. Something, it seems, most of us never have enough of.

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  2. That’s such a real thing to say, and I could have written it as well, except I wouldn’t have the guts. I think we all go through this., I was just talking about it to my 17 yrold daughter who was going through a “nobody likes me” thing.
    I have found the only antidote is church. People who have to put up with you because God makes them. I know it sounds mean-like really, we all should have friends because we are such wonderful human beings, but we aren’t and we don’t. At least I’m not.
    I’ve never read your blog before, but I’m friends w/Mrs. Darling, and she mentions you from time to time.. 🙂 This is my clumsy attempt @ a 1st comment. But, really, I so know what you mean.

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  3. Jeana says:

    I’m an extrovert, and still I have had seasons where I had several close friends and times when I have felt that other than my husband and kids I was completely alone. It’s just the natural ebb and flow of life, I think. The loneliness does make me pull in closer to God and that’s a good thing.

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  4. What a powerful and honest post. I can relate on so many levels, but have never had the guts to put it in words. I’m afraid what it might reveal about me when I actually voice my shortcomings, regrets, or desires in terms of friendships. I really appreciate your honesty in posting this.

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  5. Reminds me of the post I made a few years ago on the September board…. I have a lot of friends in my social circle due to my hobby, but no “best” friend any more (besides my husband). How do grownups find a best friend?

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  6. Wow. This is exactly how I feel though I prefer to deny it. I left my friends behind when I got married and then when that fell apart, I was lost. I have no best friend to talk to or do things with and I miss that. I don’t even have enough friends to send those stupid emails to that everyone hates (including me). I have plenty of acquaintances, but not the kind you have heart-2-hearts with.

    I don’t know the answer, but I’m scared I will have the empty church, too.

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  7. People are great, when and if I feel like being around them, and at times I have do so without any pain and very little inconvenience to myself. But yet I don’t really think I have anyone to call the way you have mentioned. In fact I have told my husband if he had to pay mourners to grieve me he dam well better do it.
    I am a friendly enough person and a decent shoulder to cry / bitch / laugh on but I don’t, and have not felt comfortable enough to do that with others. Not really and that, I think has kept me from having friend(s), which is ok with me for the most part, for most of the time…and this is my semi-long winded way of saying I have no clue how to cure or fix the situation other then maybe when we get really old, in walker’s old, we will be such chatty cathy’s with glowing personalities (or tons of money to give leave behind) everyone will claim to be our BFF.

    It could happen

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  8. Kathy says:

    I know exactly what you mean … and I’m an extrovert. I’m in a period of life where my youngest is leaving in Sep, and I just seem to be without local friends. My out of state friends are single or divorced and they get together weekends, have trips, etc. I am left out of that loop by distance.

    I’m a social worker who gives all day long and I come home and I’m too tired to do anything but I’m bored and lonely because I don’t do anything.

    Sigh. In a very, very strange way, it makes me less lonely to know other people feel the same way and I’m not some middle-aged crank who just can’t fit in anymore.

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  9. yvonne says:

    You know – I have a quantity of friends and aquaintences – but when it comes right down to it – there is a very small handful of people that you can really count on – and they are the quality. It’s hard to make friends at our age, anyhow. I have never had a best friend – that one that I know I could count on no matter what – well, maybe I did back in high school – but now, while we are still friends, I know that she has garnered a bevy of friends to call. Being in a crowd can be just as lonely…

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  10. Meghan says:

    It is rough work to maintain serious friendships. The amount of work required to really become intimate friends is such a lot that most of us just stop trying for it after college. We all have so many demands on our time that voluntarily opening yourself to another possible drain on your time is daunting. I know that it is easier to just keep talking about weather or the kids and making small talk in church or at your kids school.

    I don’t know what your routine is but I have great faith that you are missing opportunities. You are definitely not the only lonely Mom so chances are good that people you make small talk with at church or the grocery store are also yearning for local good friendships. So throw a small dinner party and play a game of yatzee or phase 10. Just remember that the overnight BEST friend experience in college doesn’t tend to happen. It takes more time and energy now since we have so many more demands on our time! But if you make it a priority, it’ll deepen the casual friendships you already have into the meaningful friendship you’re seeking!

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  11. Jackie says:

    I’ve had 3 or 4 really good friends but at this point in my life they are in different parts in the country. So you are not the only one who feels like you do.

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  12. I could have written this. But, I didn’t and you did it sooo much better.

    Before I go out in public again I will need to be retrained that it isn’t good manners to inquire as to who has or has not pooped yet.

    Less than two years ago I had to sign my mom into a nursing home, tomorrow I shall sign my dad into hospice care.

    I feel your loneliness and wish I could help.

    Maybe in Heaven we will be the ‘cool girls’. You know, the last being first and all that.

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  13. How refreshing to realize there are others who wonder if, at their funeral, someone will be in attendance – someone other than the minister or funeral director. I have often thought about the fact that I have no one who would even care……

    Wouldn’t it be fun if we could be like little kids when it comes to making friends? They meet someone for the first time, and laugh and share toys, then come running to tell they have a new best friend. If only I knew how to do that – what’s their secret?

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  14. I know exactly how you feel, Mel! I’ve never been “popular” or even in the same universe as everyone else it seemed.

    I would be very sad if you were gone. And, yes, I’d come to your party. You know, if you invited me and we lived close… I never call people it just always feel awkward like I’m begging for a friend. Or something.

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  15. I had to come back to add one more thing that just came to mind, a day or so later. Several years ago a family ‘came back’ to our church after having left many years before…in fact, before the couple even married. Their sets of parents got offended, packed up the kids, and went AWOL for around 20 years. I became friends with the wife of the couple, who was basically treading water, trying to find a new niche in the various friendship ‘lagoons’. I am a very easy person for people to confide in and one day, as we strolled around a park together, she blurted out how one of the women in our church NOW who used to be one of her best friends back THEN told her, very bluntly, not to expect to be friends this time around because SHE had lots of friends and no room for new ones to be added. My heart jolted at THAT one, and my poor new-friend was sooooooooooooo devastated. Sure makes you wonder what the Lord thinks of such things, doesn’t it?

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  16. Jenn says:

    Ha…you are funny Mel. I actually feel the same way though, but it’s all self-inflicted. I prefer NOT to talk on the phone, not to attend mommy playgroups, so I reap what I sow right!?! BTW – you can tell me anything :).

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  17. I am very extroverted, yet I feel the same way. I’m too extroverted, I don’t say the right things, I’m older than the other moms, I’ve been married forever so the blush of new love isn’t there, I’m dealing with a teen and a preschooler at the same time, I have to work and travel sometimes away from the family, I don’t homeschool, I don’t feed my children only organic soy snacks harvested by hippies wearing hemp, and I’m fat.

    These facts do not make up for my extroversion….They just serve to further seperate me. I am very friendly, and people have always confided in me, yet when I look around, I find that there are few for me to confide in.

    I said all that to say, You better not die because I will be sad and have to eat even more comfort food. And I look really crappy when I cry. So no dying from you.

    Also? I would be honored to be your friend.

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