Friday, May 27, 2011

Friendship (My Problems with Intimacy)

I don't make friends easily. It is a deep truth of mine, but at the same time, I have said it so often that it has nearly become a platitude. Matter of fact, I think that I only ever become friends with people who won't let me go; I certainly don't make it easy for them! At the same time, I wonder if I am selling myself short. Diana is my best friend, and I was the one who fell in love, the instigator. Then again, if she wasn't who she is, one who holds on and loves really hard, it probably would have never worked in the end.

I like to spend much time alone, but there is the spark of joy that seems to only come from sharing times of rollicking conversation and fun with others, and it is something that I long for far more often than I ever manage to experience it. I was always on the outside as a child and young adult. The other girls thought me strange, and when showing my natural pragmatism, I was occasionally accused of being callous and uncaring. I built my walls higher and searched for connections that would give me the safety I craved in relationships.

Of course, relationships are never 100% safe. You don't control the other person. You can't ever know the other person completely either. I struggle for it though. I demand intimacy from those who try to befriend me. If they don't communicate enough, I back off, make myself invisible (I am good at that), leave them at the wayside. I don't trust easily. They could leave me at any moment. I want to know who they are so that I can feel close to them and not have to worry that at any moment they might declare that they never really loved me, that it was all just an illusion of my own creating.

I also have problems with any sort of difficulty within a friendship. I came to realize a few years ago that I think friendships are suppose to be perfect. Friends should never have disagreements. They should never share opposing views. They should certainly never argue. I thought an argument meant the end. I know where this comes from. My ex-husband and I didn't argue. One day, he just said he had never loved me, and loved someone else, and that was that. He wasn't open to any sort of reconciliation. When I fussed, he pretended, but he never really tried.

Now I have been told by friends, that a disagreement doesn't mean it is over. Wow! My gut instinct is to still think it is, to feel abandoned, to lose hope. I expect not only to know the other person so completely I can predict their every move, but also for them to be so perfectly in tune with me that they will never do anything to cause friction. I realize that my fears are limiting my connections, but they are very hard to let go of. It is so much easier to say that I don't need anyone else.

Of course, I don't want to go in the opposite direction either. Diana and I were talking just the other night, that in order to feel safe with another partner (we are polyamorous), we would have to feel that they were communicating well with us. We have both had past partners that just wouldn't talk, and then in the end, basically said that we should have known that they weren't happy and how to fix it. (And still even in the very end not exactly clarifying the situation.)

I don't know how to fix my intimacy issues, but I hope being aware of things that are issue for me will help me to moderate them or at least to communicate them to those I start to get closer. (I do tend to warn people right away about my need to know everything!)

This post was inspired by this thought provoking story: The Lion that was a Tree that was my Friend at Ladena Kaboom.


K. said...

I'm really honored and touched that my story would set your own wheels turning and inspire you to share this. I want you to know that I've really been enjoying your blog, too, I'm thrilled that you've been more active with it and I'm enjoying getting to know you back a little bit!

For the record, I think self-awareness is huge, and that once certain things are exposed to the light they can't help but be changed, even if it's just a little. I think - and this is just a theory, mind, but I feel like it's been true for me - that it's sometimes the difference between always being at the mercy of our impulses and baggage and fears and instead taking the wheel. All of those things will still play a part in our ultimate decisions, but they aren't running things anymore, once we've called them out by their true names.

I can't tell you how badly I wish sometimes that we could all start with friendship applications or friendship want ads, how much easier it might be if everything could just be spelled out and agreed on from the beginning. Salary demands, special skills, maybe even length of desired employment. Certainly it would be nice to have a list of dealbreakers, at least. Which buttons not to ever push.

But yes, I agree, communication is huge. Communication is half the battle. Well. If it's honest, anyway. But sometimes that's the trick. And that's why my application idea would never, ever fly. Because plenty of people lie on an application, just to get the job.

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Tracy said...

I don't make friends particularly easily either. A bad habit that I used to have was that I cut people out of my life; if they hurt or disappointed me, I'd just stop calling them or reaching out or seeing them. Then I read something, one of those just random comments in the middle of a book about a totally different topic, that made me look at my relationships differently. The comment was about how every friend is going to disappoint you and you just need to let up a bit and accept them as they are. Applying that has helped me become more satisfied with my friends, but I still don't make friends quickly or have huge numbers of friends.