Article by Wendy McCance
I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about the closeness I share with friends. Over the years, I have been a supportive friend who has been there for the good moments and the bad. I have known the majority of my close friends for close to two dozen years.
Even so, when I reflect on my friendships, it has dawned on me that my version of friendship and closeness is far different from my interpretation of what most friendships are really like. I don’t know many of the intimate details about my friends lives. I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at keeping track of birthdays for example. I have always been uncomfortable around people who remember the important dates and go out of their way to make sure I know they remember. It always made me feel like a horrible friend because I wasn’t the same way.
I would say the most honest thing about my friendships is that for as little as I might have known them intimately, they really have less of an idea about who I am.
When I was small my family moved around the country every few years because of my dad’s job. We would unpack in one state and pack up again within a few years. This happened 4 times before my dad through in the towel and changed careers. When he decided enough was enough, I was only 8 yrs. old. By this point, most kids had learned how to open up to people and establish some sound friendships. I was an adventurer who loved meeting new people but didn’t know what to do in the long-term. I got bored quickly and wanted to move on to the next new exciting thing.
As I was growing up, I tried to have a best friend. 3 different times I really tried to let others in more than I had ever attempted. I think I picked people who felt most comfortably like me. This became a problem because two people who have no idea how to open up and really be good friends is a recipe for disaster. Each friendship lasted on average 3 years and then crashed and burned.
After the last attempt at really trying to open up, I gave up. I didn’t do it consciously, I just realized it recently.
Friends I have currently, the ones who have been around for many years know nothing about me. This is such a crazy thing to admit, but it’s true. These are people who know a lot of superficial history like that I went through a divorce and have a sister. They could never name the places I have lived, what my birthday is, or what hobbies I enjoy. I don’t get personal and let them in when I am going through a troubling time or even when something great has happened.
What is surprising to me is that I am actually extremely close to my husband. He is the best friend I had always hoped to have. He knows the good things as well as the bad things. I hold nothing back and feel content in the knowledge that we know everything about each other. I am not sure how I was able to break down the walls and be so authentic with him, but in many ways, he was the same way as me. We both lived very superficial lives and didn’t get too personal with anyone.
I have three kids and two of them are very much like I was growing up. They have lots of friends, but they don’t get too close. My third child on the other hand wears her heart on her sleeve and has some incredibly close friendships with a group of girls. She often talks about all they know about each other. She is the daughter who recently put together a surprise party for a friend for her birthday. She is the kid who would have known too much and made me uncomfortable as a child. I do envy her and the relationships she has built.
I am hoping her love of life and friendships rub off on the other two kids. I want to see them have real support and closeness from some quality friendships.
Would I change the way I am? Honestly at this point in my life, I am happy and content. I tend to enjoy my alone time way too much. It’s nice to have a go to group of friends to hang out with on occasion, but I don’t have the time or energy to put in the effort needed for the deep connections I once hoped to have.
What about you? Do you have a lot of close friends that really know you? Do you relate to this story, or are you the complete opposite? I’d love to hear your take on what your experiences have been like with friendships.
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