The Friend-ship; watch it set sail
Friendship, according to google, is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Google doesn’t define how often you “see” these friends as a condition of your friendship but after 10 years of moving around the State, when you finally live in the same City as your “friends” its really hard not to and I am struggling.
Moving from Perth and living in six different country towns over 10 years then moving back to Perth has definitely had its friendship pro’s and con’s.
Cons – I left the friends that I had made in Perth over the past 34 years. Facebook had only just started back then (we left in 2007) and keeping up over the phone with a newborn was really hard. I lost my best friend in the first few years and the ones I came back to after 10 years understandably had either moved on without me or changed. Maybe I had changed? I don’t know, but I am struggling with the fact that some of the best friends I had from before we left have learned how to live without me and no longer require me in their lives. It really hurts and I am trying to work out how to not let it. Perhaps some
friends people are now only there so you have someone to reminisce the past with when you eventually catch up for coffee every five years or so. Maybe that’s their role in your life now. Can people change roles in your life?? How does this happen seamlessly and without the hurt? I dunno. I haven’t worked that bit out yet.
Pros – I got to meet some absolutely beautiful people whom I never would have met and who got me through some of the most challenging times in my life. New friends who watched me become a mother for the first, and second time. New friends who I navigated the blur of the first 12 months of parenthood; who kept me sane. New friends who held my hand at midnight when I was admitted to a regional hospital for a D & C. New friends who’s houses became my second home during the isolation of new country towns. New friends who took me in when I knew absolutely nobody or in our second to last post, when my family had absolutely nowhere else to go. New friends who I cried for when I had to leave them less than 12 months after meeting them. New friends who we watched the footy with, had family BBQ’s with, playdates with; either cups of coffee or glasses of wine every other day. Day after day, in a few towns, year after year. New friends who taught me how to scrap, how to turn my hobby into a business, how to be a police wife and generally “got” me and my personality. I met some friends who I knew I would be lifelong friends with; people with whom I thought I had so much in common with, with whom I just clicked.
Now we are back in Perth. Some of these friends I have made still live in the country towns I met them in, and facebook is great to keep in touch with them. The long weekend coming up I am taking the boys down south for an overdue trip for a cuppa and a hug with my town bestie from our last posting. Other friends over time have also moved back to Perth and I was so excited when we came back that I had these beautiful people in my own home town. From meeting them, leaving them, missing them and then once again living in the same town was something I really looked forward to when we decided to come “home”. What I wasn’t prepared for was that despite being only a half hour drive away as opposed to 5-600km away, nothing had changed. The facebook relationship that had sustained our actual friendship was still just that. A facebook relationship. Our coffee and wine catchups every other day which had been replaced with a “like” or a “share” or a “comment” due to geography remained the same. I dont know if it was because we had just become conditioned to hitting that “like” button and having it replace a hug or a smile over a cuppa but I cant tell you how much I missed that physical contact with my friends. And it slays me that they are within driving distance of a lunch date but have absolutely no commitment in taking it past the interface of a screen.
Everybody says they are busy. I am busy. I now work full time and I have 2 kids. But I crave the company of my friends. I want to SEE them, not just their face in a photo on facebook. There is a meme floating around basically saying that the best friends we have don’t care how often they catch up; they understand we are all busy and things are just the same whenever they eventually do see each other. But I call bullshit. Friends make time for each other. They prioritise their friendship. They think about their friends and then the next natural step is thinking when can I see them and then reaching out to organise something. Have we become so conditioned to a “like”, a “comment” or basic cyber acknowledgement replacing physical friendship?? The last time I saw a friend she said her Mum wasn’t well, cancer. I reached out so many times to actually see her because facebook can’t cuddle, can’t look into her eyes, can’t ask the tough questions and cant just sit with someone and enjoy the silence together. I wanted to BE THERE for my friend in her time of trouble, not have that time of trouble used as an excuse to not see me. Is that too much to ask, for just ONE day; asking month after month; school holiday after school holiday?
Another meme I have seen is one that says “if you lower your expectations you wont be so disappointed”. Whilst this is true and I did try to live by that last year, and derived a certain amount of comfort in it, its not doing it for me anymore. I don’t want to live my life that way. I just want to be valued the same way I value others. Is that really asking too much?
At the moment I am trying to figure it all out. I’m not doing well. I am reacting to the rejection. I have “unfriended” friends after trying so, so hard and giving up because the the rejection all hurt too much. I have stopped following others who I have reached out to too many times so as to not see who they are prioritising above me. Seeing this makes me question the sort of person/friend I am, and I hate that. Maybe Im such a shit person and thats why people don’t want to catch up??? I am slowly giving up making the one-sided effort, reassessing my needs and protecting myself from further hurt. I am valuing the new friends I have made in Perth since we came back, the ones whose friend-ship hasn’t sailed.
I think in hindsight, this whole friendship thing has been the hardest part of following Mr Point Five around the State for his job over the past 10 years. I think this aspect has cost me the most, hurt me the most. Friendship wise I really wish we had stayed put. The pro’s seem to have been short-lived and the costs were huge. But it is what it is. I am going to try to move forward: in love with the friends I have, the ones who reach out to me; not put so much faith or expectations in the friends I made along the way, know that they helped me when I needed it and hopefully, I them; and learn to leave my past in my behind as Poombah would say.