Saturday, March 10, 2012

Best Friends or not

One of the things missing in my life is a BFF. This is not unusual for me. Looking back over my life, it has been an elusive goal to have a best friend.
See... here is my best friend!!

In elementary school, I never clicked with the other girls... being smart and athletic wasn’t fully appreciated by children in the fifties. I did find one girl that I clicked with one summer. Her newly married older sister was renting an apartment in a garage across the alley from our house. Lorraine and I really got along. But she was only around for one month and by the next summer her sister has married. Still, it was an important event for me... I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I remember that summer friendship.

This was a neighborhood friend, Pam who was a couple of years older than I. Our friendship never went beyond the neighborhood to school.

In Junior High I had a best friend for one year. We loved Mad Comics, which was the new thing, and tried to create our own version, Cracked. It was my one year of rebellion and Susie was my partner in crime. That friendship lasted only a year.

Growing up, two of my best friends were male identical twins. Their mother was good friends with my mother and we had been together on many family occasions plus we went to the same school from Kindergarten through High School and had lots of shared experiences. I remember that in fourth or fifth grade when the split the boys and girls into separate groups for 'the video' we shared our separate experiences on the walk home from school. They lived half a mile closer to school than I and by the time I got home, their mother had shared with my mother the extent of our conversation. Both moms were furious!

The twins with their family and mine up in Door County in 1962.

In High School the pattern continues and I never really connected with any girls (or guys for that matter. I didn't date in High School). I was third (or fourth) wheel friends with a trio that had been together since Kindergarten, but wasn’t exceptionally close to any of them.

In college it was much the same story. I was the third/fourth wheel friend of other groups of girls. None of them were really best friends.
Here are Smitch and Julie at my wedding (my homemade by me 'monk's wedding dress). Smitch and Julie were two of my roommates and best friends through the last two years of college... although they were closer to each other than to me.
As a young married adult, I did have a best friend for a while.  My friendship with Kathy lasted for the three years I was in California and for a decade after I moved back to the midwest, despite the fact that she had an affair with my husband while we were still married. Of course, I didn’t learn about the affair until several years after my divorce so the impact was a little muted and didn’t destroy the friendship.
That's Kathy on the left in about 1990 almost 20 years into our friendship.
 However, our friendship didn’t survive my becoming a Christian. After I became a Christian we sort of drifted apart. We both had grown up in very religious Christian families and one of our bonds was that we had both rejected the faith of our youth. When I went back to the faith of our youth... well  the friendship, which by that time was only an occasional phone call or letter drifted apart. Still we had maintained contact for over 30+ years. The last time I saw her was in 1997.

Another adult friend I had I met through a business organization. We were both daughters in family businesses started by our fathers and we were both divorced. We traveled together to conventions for about five years. But we both passed through the Young Executive barrier to Senior Executive and stopped attending the conventions and then we lost touch.
Toni with her children and Kay at our family farm in about 1987.

I was friends with a couple that I met at my church for several years although we gradually drifted apart even before they moved to New Orleans.

Since then... I haven’t had any remotely close friendships with women. I have a young women who ‘rents’ a room in my home (well young to me, she’s in her mid forties), and we are fairly close but by no definition of the term would I call her a best friend. I am more of a parent figure to her.
2011 Christmas with my Mom and Dad and Marie and I.
I’m just starting to figure out that I have become too isolated. Five years ago I retired and that left me without the day to day contact with people in the office. At about the same time I left the small church that I had attended for twenty years. I had some friends (no best friends but people that I was connected to through years of small group and service together) and most of us left the church at the same time although we have all ended up a different churches... and in my new church I haven’t really connected with anyone or any group in the same way.

I just spent two weeks in my cottage in Door County and the only live interaction with people was with the cashiers in the grocery store. I had a few phone calls with family, and one long phone call from Marie, my housemate, (but that’s almost her talking the whole time... I’m just a handy listener).

So I’m wondering about what it is about me that precludes a best friend? What is missing in me that doesn’t enable me to have close confidant? I was watching Oprah’s next chapter when she visited Paula Deane and took her BFF Gayle King with her. Even a big star like Oprah has a BFF... why oh why don’t I.

I’ve never felt really comfortable around other women. When I was a teen I just didn’t understand the whole girly thing. I’m not into make-up and dresses and high heels. I don’t really connect to jewelry and accessories. I’ve always been a pants and shirt kind of girl. Growing up in the fifties was torment because we HAD to wear a dress or skirt to school. Even the college I attended required that women wear a dress to class and to the dining hall. In college I was once stopped by the dorm mother because at 7 at night I was leaving the dorm dressed in pants. I explained that I was on the drama set construction crew and we were going to be hammering, sawing and painting and  a dress just didn’t work for this kind of activity. She wouldn’t let me leave in my pants. That’s the way it was back then...

Anyway, when I’m in a group, like my small group from church, seven times out of ten I prefer to discuss things with the men in the group... (except I’m not into sports so much). Still, I don’t really fit in with the men either. Most of the people with whom I have managed to form a best friend type relationship have been thinking women who are extroverts. It’s too stressful for me to try and be a best friend with another introvert.

But the problem I have with extroverts is that while most of the time I’m happy to let them rattle on about whatever it is that they rattle on about... it’s hard to get an extrovert to stop and really listen to me... when I need that ear.

I think that is why I have decided to write a blog.

Sometimes I just need to talk.

Anyway... who’s your BFF and can you relate? K

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