Category Archives: friends

There’s Been A Divorce. Who Gets The Friends?

“That, whereas, the parties hereto will divide the once mutual friendships as follows…”

How much easier and comforting it would be if we knew who got the friends in a divorce. No hassles. A little haggling. But you’d know who you could count on and who you no longer couldn’t.

But that isn’t how it happens. There isn’t a judge or written agreement that chooses who will maintain a friendship with one and not the other. It happens more organically. The choosing of sides.

And sometimes, neither side is chosen. As lives shift and shuffle, friendships simply disappear in a divorce.

In my many years on this planet, I’ve realized a few things:

  1. Friendships are essential.
  2. Most friendships are fleeting.
  3. The friendships that have staying power are rare.

When I divorced, oh so many years ago, I was stunned with who stuck around and who disappeared. The ones I expected to be with me through thick and thin began to drift away. It wasn’t sudden. I didn’t feel like a leper. But one day, I realized we hadn’t spoken in a while, conversations were slightly uncomfortable, they weren’t the first person I’d reach out to for a giggle or a cry. And then? Nothing. No contact for years.

No longer friends.

And while I’m okay with losing a few of those people, there’s one friend in particular that I miss. Terribly. I feel a little hole where her friendship used to be.

But then, there is a dear friend, who rose to the occasion, has put in more than I deserved at times, to stay friends. A rare diamond of a friendship that I treasure.

It’s made me wonder. What kind of a friend will I be?

If 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and most of my friends are still married, odds are I’ll have to chose sides someday. (If you are one of my friends reading this right now, don’t worry. You are in one of the marriages that is going to make it. I’m talking about the other 50% of my friendships.) 

We’ll probably stay friends with the husband in at least one couples friendship. The wives in the other few. A morbid line of thought, but reality all the same. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pleasant. It’s just the inevitable.

I wish there was a fair, equitable and comfortable way to divvy up the friendships after a divorce. A method where everyone agrees and everyone is happy. Something finite. Something you can count on.

But there isn’t.

When there is a divorce, the friendships are casualties in a uncomfortable war. Sometimes you know immediately who will stick with whom. Sometimes there are surprises.

But it is rarely clean and clear cut.

It’s often messy.

And always sad.

Kind of like the divorce that got us there in the first place.

 

 

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, friends

It’s Nice To Know Who My Real Friends Are

Raised in a fairly dysfunctional environment, I have a difficult time discerning true friendships. I call my husband and another close friend of mine my “social barometers.” When I’m unsure of a behavior, I consult them and they help me to see the truth. (All hail Husband and Kay!)

Even with their wisdom, that doesn’t stop me from obsessing. Kay says that I over analyze things. (She’s right.) I’m always hyper-vigilant when it comes to my own actions. I’m overly concerned with offending someone. I know. Hard to believe, right? When you’re as opinionated as I am, you can see my predicament.

In these hard economic times, another friend of mine, wanting to work from home, started working for one of those pyramid based make-up companies. She turned to all of her friends for contacts, referrals and business. My inbox now receives weekly ads about their products. She’s asked me a number of times to host parties or help her with the sales challenges the company puts forth.

I finally had to, as gently as I could, say “No.”

First of all, I don’t like make-up. I find it to be a necessary evil. In fact, at a time in my life when I probably need it more than ever, I haven’t been wearing any. I’m finally at an age when I am getting comfortable in my own skin. I don’t mind the wrinkles and laugh lines. I call them my “badges of honor.” I’ve earned every one. Sure, I still don’t like my dark circles or the mole on my forehead, but I can live with them. I still pluck my brows and the errant hairs that pop up on my chin or upper lip. I’m not sure I’ll ever consider waxing or threading. Making the time for that seems silly to me.

Mostly, I hate parties where I’m expected to buy something. So, I’m certainly not going to host one. Admit it. When you receive an invitation to a make-up/jewelry/cooking tool/home decor party your gut instinct is to find an excuse not to go. Right?

My friend has, thankfully, backed off.

But then this popped up on her Facebook status:

“It’s nice to know who my real friends are”

Was she speaking to me? To all her other friends who had to gently say “no?” Or did she just have a bad day and a good friend came through in a pinch?

We’ll never know. Because all she provided was a cryptic Facebook message and I’m certainly not going to risk another “party assault” and ask her to clarify.

I realized I needed a cheat sheet. A checklist, to help me sort out the real friends from the less than true:

  • A real friend doesn’t hound you to host parties to extract money from your friends. Free gifts are not enough incentive to tick off what few friends you have.
  • A real friend calls you up when they have something to say, not when it’s their turn to call.
  • A real friend can talk to you in the next hour, the next week, the next few months. It doesn’t matter how much time lapses between communication. You pick up where you are in life.
  • A real friend is never tit-for-tat with anything. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, blog comments, play dates or phone calls. No. Thing.
  • A real friend doesn’t keep score. (Sorry. I had to say it again. It’s that important to me.) 
  • A real friend loves you even when you make a mistake and say something really stupid. And I do mean, really stooopid. 
  • A real friend encourages you, builds you up and picks you up when you fall down.
  • A real friend is honest. To a fault. And that’s okay. Because sometimes we need to hear something a bit uncomfortable. It shakes us up and helps us to be better people.
  • A real friend respects our boundaries.
  • A real friend is loyal and is not afraid to buck the mean girls in the neighborhood when you’re feeling left out of the latest party.
  • A real friend doesn’t disappear or fade away without explanation. (Sadly, I have a few of those. I’m still wondering what I did wrong.)
  • A real friend is like the Fairy Godmother and Baloo (from Jungle Book) and Jiminy Cricket and Dory (from Nemo) all rolled into one. I’m happy to say I have quite a few of those.

True friends, real friends are precious and beautiful and surprisingly, oh-so-rare. Today, I am sending hugs and love and deep-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart thanks to all of you.

If I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to add your own real friend requirements.

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Filed under Coffee Talk, friends

I’m Saying Goodbye To Fair Weather Friends

I’ve been popular. I’ve been not-so-much. I’ve had an insanely complicated amount of friends. I’ve had three or four truly close friends.

Sitting here, in my forties, I’ve looked back at my friendolution with wonder and awe.

Elementary School – A plethora of friends. Popular among the girls because I wasn’t afraid of the boys. Popular with the boys because I was a crazy tomboy. Snakes wrapped around my wrists, climbing trees, playing kickball and racing bikes – all wearing a dress (with shorts underneath, of course.)

Middle School – Down to a few close friends. An awkward, yucky phase in my life. It suddenly wasn’t cool to like school and I still liked it. I loved it. It was my escape. So, I closed myself off and hid in the library whenever I could. Books became my true friends. Books and Stacy, Jill, Sharon and Rita, that is.

High School – Back to tons of friends again. I was on the swim team, involved in student government, sang in the choir and the select ensemble and tried out for school plays. I loved sports, so I hung with the jocks and the cheerleaders, too. I had friends in every stratosphere of high school. Being an intellectual was swinging back to cool at my school. Especially if you could help your friends with their homework.

College – The pendulum swings back to a choice few friends. But then, I was a bit obsessed with my boyfriend by this time and overwhelmed with the freedom of young adulthood and college life. My choice few friends were all I could handle.

Young adulthood and beyond – Sometimes lots of friends. Sometimes not. But I’m still not good at allowing friends to drift in and out of my life. I wonder. I obsess. What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t Lori call anymore? Why am I always the one who has to contact Drew? Why is it always tit-for-tat with Grace?

There are some friends that have drifted out that I am relieved to be rid of. Doesn’t that sound harsh? But it’s true. The psychic vampire friends. The ones who were exhausting to be around in the first place. Or the ones whose expectations I could never meet.

Then there are the friends, just a couple, that I still wonder about. Still pine for. Why did our friendship have to end? Was it something I said or did? What happened that I missed?

But through my friendolution, one truth remains the same. I have no use for the fair weather friends. To be my friend you must stick with me through thick and thin. Loyalty is paramount. Kindness is crucial. Compassion is a must. Patience and understanding will take us far. I make mistakes but I own them. I’m not afraid to apologize.

The friends who have dumped me because: I divorced. I wouldn’t gossip with you in the teacher’s lounge. I changed jobs. I moved 10 miles away. I got re-married. I had kids. I didn’t have kids. I moved out-of-state. I might as well have moved out-of-state. I wouldn’t stay at your teeny, tiny condo. I got sick and you thought I was faking it. (Seriously? What did I see in you?) I went to college. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom.

All of you?

Good riddance.

I don’t need any fair weather friends.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, friends

Sometimes You Say It Better Than I Can

Did I say sometimes? Let me re-phrase. A lot of the time. I read your posts some days and I’m shaking my head wishing I had said that.

Here.

Let me show you.

1. When I need to shake things up inside my own little head, I visit Big Little Wolf. She always gets me jazzed about some new thought/idea/controversy/event. She tackles all kinds of issues, including  personal responsiblity with our own health.

2. LL Cool Joe offers glimpses into his life that I adore. Especially here, talking about his daughters. (And not really about Beyonce’s @$$, as the title suggests. ;) 

3. I love Rudri’s  introspective writing. So feel free to peruse any of her posts. But go here to wish her a happy birthday!

4. For a laugh, I love to visit Nap at Naptime Writing. This post is the perfect example of why I love her so!

5. And my dear, sweet, TKW. All about picture day. I, too, loathe picture day. And I have boys. Try to figure that one out. It’s not the getting ready or which clothes to wear. It’s the goofy faces or half closed eyes that I face when they come home with those pre-paid-pics. Ugh.

So many more of you that I read and love. Truly. Thanks for always putting out such quality material. I love visiting you all. Even if I’m reading from my phone and can’t (because I’m technically challenged) comment.

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Filed under Blogging, friends

Make Time For Those Who Matter Most

The holidays can be such a difficult time for some families. All crowded in the same house. Forcing civility. Trying each other’s patience. Accommodating. Pleasing. Or trying to please with the same childhood insecurities and failures rearing their ugly heads.

Here is a post I wrote a while ago. A little Jane’s wisdom. I am a work in progress. And so are you. Hug yourself and let go.

I’ve made a conscious decision in my adult life to focus on people who reciprocate. I don’t mean in a tit-for-tat kind of way. I don’t keep score. I have some friends from far away that make an effort to visit and some that don’t. With some friends, we need to talk a few times a week and with others we can pick up where we left off after months of no contact. I suppose my criteria is different depending on the relationship. But for the most part,  it has to feel like we’re both making an effort to nurture the relationship.

A very wise man once gave me the following visual about marriage. He said that there are times when a marriage is like this – and he made a fist with one hand and covered it with the other. And then there are other times when a marriage is like this – and he reversed his hands. But for most of the journey a marriage should be like this:

hands

He interlaced his fingers, joining them together.

That visual made such an impression on me. I was in a relationship at the time that was so lop-sided. I was co-dependently orchestrating our journey. I left that relationship – thank goodness. I’ve applied this visual to other parts of my life, both with family and friends.

I recognize that we need to carry the other person sometimes. We all have struggles in our lives where we need others to pick up the slack. And sometimes, we’re the one who needs to be carried. Being able to lean on your friends and family from time to time is essential. But for most of the time, for most of our journey, we need to be working together to nurture and care for each other.

Journeys shared are the journeys worth taking. I surround myself with people who nurture me and allow themselves to be nurtured by me. People that listen with their heart. Act with compassion and kindness. See with loving eyes.

These are the people who I make time for.

These are the people who matter most.

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Jane Just Unfriended Someone On Facebook And It Feels So Naughty!

And oh-so-good!

You see, I decided I needed to walk-the-walk if I was going to talk-the-talk.

I’m in my forties. I’m older. Wiser. Life is short and I only make room in my life for the people who matter. You must surround yourself with people who nurture you, who feed your soul.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But Judy (names have been changed to protect the she-devil) was still my “friend” on Facebook. She’s a Queen-Bee-Wanna-Be in our neighborhood. She throws lots of parties. And I’m conveniently left off the guest list every time.

Two years in a row, she called me to apologize for inadvertently leaving me off the invite list, but I was still welcome to come. I came both times. (Pathetic, I know.) Even though I was invited after the fact and just a few days before the event. I wanted to go. She invites just about every woman in our neighborhood and many of my friends were going. Or women I wanted to get to know better. Plus, it’s a party. Who doesn’t like a party?

But then, I did the unthinkable. I dropped out of her book club. Well, not her book club. But she’s a Queen-Bee-Wanna-Be. She thinks of it as hers.

That year I was left off the guest list and that year I never received an after-the-fact-invite.

No biggie. Part of why I dropped the book club was my plate was very, very full already. I was mildly annoyed that I wasn’t invited (yet again) but only mildly annoyed.

I was left off the guest list again this year. No big surprise. But it bothered me more than last year. Why? I’ve been wondering the same thing myself.

Maybe it’s because last January, in our glossy, professionally printed neighborhood newsletter another neighbor gushed a huge thank you on the neighborhood news page to Judy and her husband for opening their gorgeous home not once but twice during the holiday season and they had so much fun and they’re such wonderful hosts and blah, blah, blah.

Wait. So I hadn’t been left off just one guest list but two?

Then, this past October, pictures popped up and gushy thank yous all over Facebook for the amazing time everyone had at her Halloween party.

Nope. Not invited to that one, either.

No one likes to feel left out. Many women that I socialize with attend her parties. She-devil or not, it hurts.

But how to make it hurt less……hmmmmmmmm……

I took her off my Facebook. But not without first scanning all of my other ‘friends’ on Facebook to make sure that I truly only had people who I wanted to stay in touch with. Ok. I admit. There are still about 6 people in my friends list I have no interest in forging deep friendships with but they’re neighbors and they’ve always been kind to me. As far as I know, they’re not throwing huge neighborhood bashes and not inviting me. (Just attending them.)

But She-devil, I mean Judy? She’s phony to me in public. She’s invited every Tina, Deb and Henrietta – new neighbors and old – to her home. And I’m an after-thought, or not even thought of.

Screw her.*

Wait. That sounds bitter. Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. I am. But I forgive myself. Because I will get over it. I’ll be over it by the time I press “Publish.”  And quite honestly? She’s not someone I really want to get to know any better. I’ve seen enough. And from what I’ve seen? We don’t share many of the same values.

So, I unfriended her. My friends list is pretty trim. Some family. Lots of friends. Some former students. Some neighbors. But chock full of people who care about me. People I wouldn’t hesitate to call/email/text/write on their wall.

Those are the kinds of friends I want on Facebook.

Those of are types of relationships I want to nurture.

Life is short. Too short.

Time to unfriend the she-devils.

 *I hestitated/used urban dictionary/consulted my daughter about using this phrase. Nothing else would do. But it sounded so mean that I went to erase it and my daughter grabbed my arm and said, “Put on your big girl panties and say what you mean!”  So, it stays.

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Filed under friends, Lessons Learned

I Grieve. Or I Am A Rock. Take Your Pick.

 Two weeks ago, my brother-in-law died.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter’s boyfriend’s death.

Today, my aunt died.

It’s been a rough few weeks. To make matters worse, my aunt wasn’t doing well for the past week or so and I had no idea. She lives over 2000 miles away and we kept in touch through emails and holiday cards. My parents knew. But chose not to tell me. (Dysfunction is alive and well in my family.) I already live with the regret of my last visit with my grandmother. And while I feel good about how I maintained my relationship with my aunt, it bothers me in this moment that I didn’t get the chance to talk to her one more time. If I had known she wasn’t doing well, I would have called her. She’s not the type to email me and tell me she’s suffering. And I had no idea.

“I grieve for you
You leave me
Let it out and move on
Missing what’s gone
They say life carries on
They say life carries on and on and on” – The grief in me misses the relatives and friends who have passed. This part of life sucks. Losing people. Good people. People who are loving, kind, fill you with joy. And because I’m getting older I’m in for more loss. How do you reconcile that? How to adjust? We carry on. But with more lonely moments than before.
 
“I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.” – Anger. At my parents for cutting me off like this. Punishing me for not playing by their rules. Anger at the loss I’ve experienced and the more to come. I will get through this. But for now I want to be an island. I want to never cry. I want to feel no pain.
 

Or

Take your pick.

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Filed under family, friends, Music, Relating