Wednesday, March 9, 2011

F is for...

F is for...fear, family, friends, friendship

F is for friendship.

When I was a river guide, I would tell our guests that I was really anti-social. They would never believe me but it's true. It's easy to be fun and funny and social with a group of strangers when you know you will only see them for these three days. And it was easier still because I thought I had a real group of friends in the guide staff even though we would rarely see each other outside these trips. And that turned out to be true of some and not so true of others.

I've never found it easy to make friends. Sometimes it's been my circumstances and other times my social ineptitude. Or perhaps my circumstances fostered my ineptitude. Or my ineptitude fostered my circumstances. Whatever. End result is I've never had a lot of friends. Usually just one at a time.

I have had times in my life where I belonged to a 'group' but it never ended well for me. Eventually I say or do something and all of a sudden they are all over there looking and blinking at me over here and I know I'm doomed. Sometimes it blindsides me and it takes me a while to figure out what happened.

See, the thing is is, I'm blunt. I tend to blurt out the thing everyone else is avoiding. I'm the kid who is yelling that the emperor has no clothes. I'm the one who talks about the elephant in the room. Ask me and I will tell you the truth. I just don't realize it's an unpleasant truth.

I could never get away with anything as a kid because it was all there on my face so I don't even try to lie. I'll try to avoid as much as I can, but I don't lie. It's just too hard.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with friendship and I'll tell you. People don't like to have the unpleasant truth pointed out to them.

As I have aged I have learned a lot of things. Eventually I learned enough about myself to understand why friendship was so hard for me/with me. I have tried to develop tact and I warn people who I think I am getting on with.

'I can be hard to take', I tell them.

I don't do it on purpose, of course. There's no meanness in my heart. envy sometimes maybe And when I realize I have offended I will apologize profusely. Even if it takes me a few days to realize I need to issue an apology. But sometimes that's not enough.

I've learned a few things about friendship. I used to think that friends ever meant friends forever. I know now that some friends come into your life for life and some for just a certain period of time and that's OK. I've learned that if you want to keep a friend you have to participate.

I've learned that proximity has a lot to do with it. Now that I find myself out here in the country I am cut off from the more frequent interaction I enjoyed in the city. Out here it will be all too easy to slip back into my anti-social, loner behavior though I don't mind being alone. Of course, I'm not really alone. I have Marc. And my sister. And mostly I'm content with that.

I've also learned that true friendship is enduring, that it doesn't always need constant care. That some persons you connect with, even though you are physically separated, you remain connected. The love and caring doesn't diminish even though months or years may pass incommunicado.

I no longer pine after friends and belonging to a 'group' like I did when I was young. Having one or two friends is enough. I still have heart connections to people who have moved away and through this electronic media I have found friends in people I have never met, may never meet.

So I guess I did lie. I no longer pine after belonging to a group because now that I think about it, I do belong to a group. It's just that we are scattered far and wide.


  1. I have come to value our "friendship" Ellen!

    Your messages mean a lot to a short messy-haired woman, who could do with a lot more friends who are prepared to tackle that elephant in the room!

  2. I'm just like you, I found out early that I am the world's all time crap liar, so I don't even try. And I have a very low bullshit tolerance, though I will smile and be silent for the sake of peace, to a point. Thank Goddess for girlfriends, with whom I can say whateverrrrr.

  3. Sometimes it doesn't feel like we're scattered far and wide though, does it. One blog post, and we're all here at your doorstep for a visit :)

  4. Oh this resonates with so many of us. You were blunt; I was guarded. I felt so much like an outsider. But, look how many of us respect and reach out for each other right here in blogland. Glad to know you, Miss Ellen.

  5. Wonderful post, Ellen. I know a couple of folks like you, who refer to themselves as anti-social but would have others scratching their heads and that description.

    And you're right.. there are so many who don't appreciate having the elephants pointed out but at the same time would say that they demand honesty in a friendship. Hard to win with some folks, I suppose.

  6. I've always been the quiet shy one in the crowd. Now, I'm the quiet observer in the group.

    I would rather have a few good friends instead of a lot of not so nice so called ones.

  7. Oh Ellen- you are the best kind of friend to have- call it like you see it, honest, no fake smiles, please...More trustworthy than the polite sort - when they make room for everybody it becomes a very crowded uncomfortable space. I don't know if age has anything to do with weeding out the "friendship" garden - I don't have time to cultivate the fragile spindly needy ones any more...and I don't feel I have the time for bullshite fertilizer.

  8. Wow, you echo exactly my life. Living in the same town all of my life, I just took friendship for grated. Then we moved. Everything changed. it was not as easy to make friends when you are not attending children's functions, live in a different part of the country with different mores and implicit rules. Some old friends from home stayed with me, and some didn't. The ones that didn't took me by surprise - I thought we were better friends than we evidently were. Now that I'm back home I don't feel a big need to call people. I have my regulars and feel just fine not being part of a group any longer. But maybe, like you, I do have a group - they're just scattered throughout the Internet.

  9. Great post! I'm sure most people can relate to this in some part or another - if not all of it. Take a friendly, stone dusty hug from here.

  10. Mike got me a plaque for my desk at work that said, "Do I LOOK like a people person?" I worked in Human Resources at the time. Heh.

    I am a terrible friend because I just don't put in the effort. I never call. All my friends live far away. But when we get together it's like those miles & months never existed.

    I often think I should get out more - but, meh - I'll just come here instead :)

    P.S. total NON poker face - gets me in trouble ALL the time.

  11. :-)

    People don't believe me when I tell them I have hermit-like tendencies, but I do. I'm not a "team" person, I'm not a joiner.

    I have made a lot of friends online, and I like that.


  12. Damn! You girlfren, are a good writer!
    To me, the measure of a good friend, is one who is quick to empathize, encourage, to kick your butt when you need it, and slow to judge.
    I've had friends drift into and out of my life. I've learned from most of them.
    Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow and it seems natural to slay the messenger. But I can count on one hand the friends who've had the courage to tell me something they knew I didn't want to hear. I consider them my best friends.

  13. great distances I think are all in ones perspective and can't be judged in miles for friends are who I feel close to no matter the physical distance. But like you, I have always been seen as affible but I am a crumudgeon at heart... and should be alone most of the time (don't play well with others) do appreciate honesty but sometimes have to recover from it.......and still... I know you and I are friends. The Olde Bagg, Linda

  14. I admit, I consider many in the blog world in my circle. I think of their stories and check in to see how they are. I have had tears for some and laughed with others.

    I am very social, but have only a handful of very close friends. Relationships are time consuming and my times is so limited, as is everyone's. I will say the relationships I have are really precious and honest.

    The nice piece about blogging is we check in when we can at any hour. And the visit is never rude, but always welcomed.

    Thanks for checking in on me :)!

  15. I certainly consider us friends for sure Ellen!! I feel we are definitely kindred spirits!!
    I am not very social either. I have one friend that I "do" things with. I just can't do a crowd...too hard for me. So I don't do it! I tried and I became overwhelmed.
    I have learned to keep my mouth shut though...people just don't want to know my opinion! Ha! So I don't give one...even if asked. I duck and dodge the question.
    I don't mind being alone. I have many things to do art wise and my time is precious to me.
    Loving you girlfriend!!

  16. I love this - in part because I have the same affliction about groups (except for this group of far-flung clan), also in part because I love the friends who will blurt out unpleasant truths. I would much rather hear it than sense what will never be said.

    I trust people who speak bluntly, Ellen. I trust you.

  17. I thought it was just a German quality to be blunt and direct! (English and Swiss people tell us so - or rather they don`t, haha). I call it honesty, but you are right, some people don`t like it (do I? Yes, most of the time, if it is said kinda nicely).
    Since we moved to this island, I am so glad for my internet friends, even if we have never met in person. Blogland sure has become like a family, one where you can CHOOSE your relatives, how lovely! Cheers from your distant German cousin.

  18. Remember you are at the top of my Eclectic Circle ;-)

    I am very blunt too, and that makes certain people (many) fell uneasy around me. I actually had a person in my life who I truly appreciated (still do), but who told she couldn't be friends anymore because there were times when she needed me to lie a little and I was incapable "of showing that much compassion." I know what she meant, but I don't agree. It might be what works for her, but I would never lie to a friend to make them feel good about themselves. I will tell them the truth and offer a shoulder to lean on or a set of arms ready to embrace, but lies? No, that doesn't work.

    I love the friends I have, even if they are all over the world, and some of them I might never see face-to-face.

  19. I can identify with the irony of being very friendly with people through one's career but less gregarious in normal circumstances. Enjoyed this post about our online associations too.

  20. You and me both, mate.

    Perhaps we in blogland choose the people we can be virtual friends with. A blogging buddy and I had a long phone call yesterday and we agreed that we can be a lot more open with each other in this medium because we can say things from a distance. I'd never have told any of that group on my recent outing how lonely I felt. yet I had no hesitation trumpeting it for all of blogland to read.

    I rarely have friends, Beloved is my best friend. There is one friend I see once in ten ears, but we write and phone. When I told her a long time ago that I'm not much of a friend and that I frequently find something to dislike about many people, she explained that we make different friends for different purposes.

    Sadly, I still don't get it.
    Like you, my failing is being blunt and brusque to boot. Never works. Besides, I find most people bore me after a while.

    Are you glad you never need to meet me? I bet we would find something to talk about.

  21. Oh Ellen - hugs. And a couple of really good friends is much better than the clique. That's one of the good parts of growing up, realizing you don't want to be part of the group. I'll bet that 99% of us think we're socially inept. If you've any self-consciousness at all, it's impossible not to. The 1% who don't are narcissists.
    But you've got a wonderful group of friends going here! ;)

  22. No doubt about it Ellen. Nice post.

  23. I'm in your scattered group
    I love that last line
    I feel the same way

  24. This is a great group, and let me be blunt: I consider you a friend, Ellen.

  25. Congrats on your POTW award Ellen!!
    Well deserved!!!
    Hugging you

  26. I tend to groan without realizing it when I hear something annoying. Tell it like it is, it can't be any better.

  27. what a great potw :) friendship is something i've struggled with... 7 years ago, when i moved to get married @ 40, i assumed it would be so fun to meet new friends - what a shock it was to realize most women i wanted to connect with were too busy or too settled in 'safe' friendships, i'm not so safe, like you, telling the truth & hearing the truth feeds me and seems to repel many! but i sure do cherish those few who seem to also be attracted to elephants ♥

    i'm grateful to have found the blogworld, where new friendships are growing ✻


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.