I have always had trouble with friendships. I have always felt that I gave more than I got, and wished that I could find a friend just like me for myself. In fact, a friend once told me that she knew it was unfair, but she relied on me to insure that our friendship would continue. She said she gratefully benefitted from my investment in the relationship.
My social troubles seem as if they are part of my self-definition. When I was young, childhood did not include playdates; you simply went outside and played with whoever was out. On our block, the only girl who was my age was my sworn enemy. In reality, we may have played as much as we fought, but I did not include her in my list of friends.
We spent our summers at the beach. My parents sat in a circle of their friends, and all the children spent the daylight hours in the water—swimming, floating, or climbing on the jetties. There were two boys my age, but no girls in that circle of friends, and again, I found myself alone.
In school, my situation was better. I was never truly part of the inner clique of “cool” girls, but I felt privileged to be allowed to share in their glory. I had a small circle of friends in the neighborhood, and once crossing the street no longer required adult supervision, I was able to spend more time in their company. I remember the bitter tears I cried when they crossed a line that I had drawn and committed an act which communicated to me that they were no longer my friends. In retrospect, they may have had no knowledge of their actions, but to me, it was unforgivable. My mother tried to comfort me as I lay crying into my pillow. When I flipped onto my back and saw her tear-stained cheeks, I felt frightened beyond anything I had previously experienced. I interpreted her tears as a sign that I truly was a social pariah with no hope left for friendship.
I am certain that part of the reason that I invest so much in my relationships stems from the fear of becoming that awkward sixth grade loner again. Yet, no matter how many overtures I make, how many invitations I extend and how much help I offer, I never feel it is reciprocated. In fact, I don’t feel that I have a social circle. All of the women who I call “friend” rely on my instigations. It is rare that I am the invitee instead of the inviter.
Sometimes, I feel that it is just my lot in life; that the world is divided into two groups of people—those who extend the invitation and those who receive it. In all honesty, I cannot say that my friends invite one another and do not include me. Their social lives appear much more limited, and they seem to spend a lot of time at home.
I see other groups of friends. They have scheduled activities—once a month, every six weeks. One coworker gets together monthly with a group of couples, and each prepares part of the meal, and they rotate among their houses. Another joins her friends for an activity once every six weeks—one time a lecture, another time a dinner and the third a guided tour. A different family is responsible for the content of each meeting.
I don’t need a confidant. I am lucky to have married my best friend, and there is hardly anything that I cannot tell him. I need a social outlet. I feel stifled by the never-ending cycle of work, home and sleep. I want to get the most out of each moment of every day. I need a group of friends!