01 Aug Change + Friendships
Life changes. Friendship changes. It is inevitable. Of course we hope that things change for the “better” but sometimes we are left with questions…. What was the point of that? Why did our friendship end? What did I do? Why did the good stuff have to end? We have some friends who stay, those who fizzle and those that leave with a bang. Change can bring friendships closer, push them away or bring us friends to help. A kind stranger on a turbulent airplane ride will offer you a friendship…you talk, laugh and commiserate to get through the event, then you part ways and likely never see each other again. Was that short term friend a waste of time? I think not.
Catalyst of Change
Years ago, I had a group of ladies I was very close to with common interests. Friendship forged as new moms supporting each other in a little utopia of dinners, girls’ night out and fun family times together. It was fun, comfortable and somewhat predictable for years. Then things got exciting when a new member moved in, like a special guest at a party. She was new, interesting, pretty and the life of the party. Her manner tended to be outspoken, passionate, and an expert with a “firecracker” personality. My manner would be described as a conflict avoid-er; “let’s all get along kind of gal”, bohemian ideals and a humorist (I try). It became evident to me in social situations and one-on-one, that the firecracker and I didn’t really mix well. I got the impression that she took a lot of what I said and did wrong, she didn’t “get me” and treated me with skepticism. She was fire, I was water.
I felt compelled to fix the situation, try to “kill her with kindness” especially as many others seemed enamored with her. I tried to be kind and loving…but my efforts to get to know her and my brand of friendship were received as sneaky and plotted? I found myself suddenly very self conscious, insecure and hurt. I found myself second guessing myself like a teenage girl. What was wrong with me? Why did she not like me? Didn’t most people like me? I can fix this! I was out of my element and without the right skill-set (or extinguisher) for a fire starter.
Change is inevitable. It seemed that within a year, people started to fall or get pushed out of the group, some became estranged as other issues developed. Some friends whispered, some out of both-sides-of-their-mouths and some took an silent favorite to this person or that person. As it turned out, there was a lot of change on the horizon as friends seemed to divide by personality type. There were “drama mommas”, “laid backs”, “party girls” (like white suburban mom gangs). Eventually I was cut off and uninvited to certain social gatherings. I felt like I had made enough excuses for pettiness, questioned my nature and felt stranded. In a way, for me and others, the firecracker was a catalyst of change. So, I ask myself, what was the point of that experience? Why did some friendships have to end? Can’t we just all get along?
The funny thing about friendship and change is that many times, we just don’t know why unless we grow from it.
Every friendship experience has a point and purpose as they influence who we are and who we choose to be. Whether it is an airplane experience meeting someone new, a childhood friend or a group of ladies who help support each other in the early years of motherhood…it may end with a fizzle or a bang but we change a little bit. The tight knit mom group had a purpose and then we outgrew it, we changed as new elements were introduced. I will always have wonderful memories in my heart of the friends I spent time with back then.
So? What is the lesson learned from this friendship experience (other than women are really weird)?
I am grateful for the person I am today. At the time, she was fire and I was water, nothing substantial was ever going to develop…just hot air and smoke. I didn’t understand that at the time. So why did some others mix better with her?…maybe they were less water and more fire? I think in hindsight, some were kerosene. I mean I could go on an on with the these metaphors…
I feel fortunate for the experience as: One, I learned to appreciate fire from a distance, but not play with it, Two, appreciate how to embrace the ebb and flow of change with grace and security and Three, Choose who I surround myself and not with “who is given” to me. I choose to be with other easy, breezy “water” friends. People who embrace who I am, and visa- versa. I have a wonderful group of friends who gravitate towards pool parties, Go figure? (I am not making this up!) In my heart, a lesson was learned and the past is forgiven.
A good friendship uplifts you; it has little expectations, but offers gratitude, above all it feels natural and easy. Sometimes friends leave you with lovely memories or sometimes with burn marks, but both have a purpose. Opportunities for friendship come along all the time and you have a choice to embrace them or not, and sometimes you need a little fire to make a change. Some friends will last and some are just lessons.