In Search of Friends

Well, hello, Internet.

As you may have surmised (if, indeed, you are paying attention to my presence or absence), I’ve been busy these last couple of weeks. Also as you may have surmised, most of my busy-ness has been due to various Scouting-related activities. Mr. P has been traveling a bit as well, which leaves me to be the All-Around Scout Mom Extraordinaire. Don’t misunderstand–I’m not complaining, exactly. Mr. P’s job is a huge blessing to us, and he actually doesn’t travel much. It’s just that busy seasons like this often leave me with a niggling feeling that I’ve probably forgotten something, missed an obligation or two, or unintentionally offended someone in my haste to perform some other necessary and required bit of . . . something related to Scouting, most likely.

In any event, I’ve been busy.

I wanted to come back to an idea I alluded to a couple of weeks ago when I enumerated my personal health goals in my post “Unplugged“:

Improve my emotional health by evaluating relationships, improving them where I can and eliminating those that are no longer beneficial to either party.

I’ve been doing some soul-searching about friendships–past, current, and future. I have long had the suspicion that some of my entrenched friendships may no longer be beneficial to me. I don’t want it to sound like I am only friends with people who provide me with something, but sometimes, friendships come to a point where they are no longer beneficial to either party and someone needs to drop back or out. I think it’s fair to say I’ve found two main groups of people in my life who no longer build me up:

The friends I had in my old work life. While I do keep in touch with a few people from that life, most of them were gone when I left that world. That was a painful loss, I have to admit. I went from having a fairly intimate circle of acquaintances who all had much in common to having a huge hole in my world with no one to fill it. But for the most part, those people belong to a life I am no longer a part of and will never be part of again. They belong in my past as fond memories, but to attempt real, lasting friendships with most of them would likely bring only frustration, confusion, and perhaps even pain. Sometimes, it’s best to just say goodbye.

The “girlfriends” I formerly called my closest friends. I think the final moment for me was during our annual weekend gathering last autumn. I realized that not only are we rehashing the same old stories and falling into all of the same old patterns every time we all get together, but that those stories and patterns are simply no longer beneficial to me–or more likely to any of us. While I’m in a position of weakness–which I am, and that’s hard for me to admit–being with a group of weak people who shore each other up with that unique brand of “girlfriend” self-esteem wherein none of us can do any wrong is not a healthy place to be. At least for the moment, it’s best to let those relationships lie fallow. Perhaps the soil just needs a season or two to rest.

This leaves me with a rather slender friend file, I have to admit.

This is not really a problem for me, usually. I do not make friends easily. I am not a good social initiator. I chalk most of these social failings up to my generally introverted nature. I am simply programmed to be a hermit and would be perfectly happy living in a cave on Mt. Everest with nary a visitor except the occasional sherpa.

But the reality is that I live in a world where I’m not only expected to be social, but I am probably doing myself a disservice by resisting socialization.

Another hard thing to admit.

The reality is that when I count my friends–real friends, people who don’t have to associate with me because of blood or marriage or volunteer obligations or school circumstances–I can probably only count about five true friends. Mr. P is obviously at the top of the list, and there is my long-time best girlfriend who will probably remain at the top of the list until we are both very old and very covered in cat hair and wool from our knitting projects. I also have about three or four Internet acquaintances who know a lot of things about my life and whom I would count as friends should we ever meet in real life. Beyond that?

The pickin’s, as they say, are slim.

So the quandary becomes . . . Do I need more friends? I think that, yes, perhaps, I just may.

I find myself pining for conversation lately–conversation that doesn’t revisit all of the same old territory, that doesn’t devolve into a litany of complaint, that isn’t centered around children and home. I find myself wishing for the kind of intellectual stimulation that only comes from a well-earned and shared trust, a give-and-take of information and wisdom and experience. And I don’t want to sound like Mr. P and my other few friends are falling down on the job–they aren’t. But I think I would enjoy broadening the circle a bit.

So where does one go to find new friends? The first thoughts immediately jump to items of common ground–church, literature, knitting, and the like. I am hesitant to look for new friends at church for a variety of reasons–some of which I have shared here, some of which are, for the moment, private. That leaves books and knitting, for the moment, anyway. And since knitting often includes my best friend already . . .

It is, perhaps, time to find a book club. Or a literature class, or some other place where a person with some fair amount of bookish intellect can enjoy pursuing a too-long-neglected passion.

Now, as to when I might fit said pursuit into my schedule . . . That’s another issue entirely.

More investigation is needed.

Till next we meet . . .

J M

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