Thoughts on friendship

I’ve generally been a relatively solitary person. This isn’t because I wanted it that way; I’m really quite jealous sometimes of Adam’s ability to integrate himself into a group, to make friends so easily and just generally be outgoing in social situations. I am really not at all similar to him in that sense. Groups make me uneasy at best, and downright depressed at worst. This is the first thing that thwarts me in my attempts to make friends.

The second thing is the fact that I just don’t trust people. I don’t comfortably open up to very many people – and none of those people live on the West Coast, except for Adam, and in this case he doesn’t really count. What I’m talking about is friends of the sort that you sit around with and talk about the things that are really bothering you that you maybe don’t want to talk to your significant other about, maybe because he’s what you want to talk about, or maybe because he doesn’t really understand, or maybe because you want a different perspective about something from someone who doesn’t live with you. For whatever reason, in this case he doesn’t count.

What I’ve been trying to work out for the past couple of weeks is why I’m like this – the reason that I can’t make new close friends. I’m not close to anyone here, there isn’t that sort of connection that I had with some people back in Toronto (very few, granted, but it was there.) I just don’t want to unload my problems on anyone – I feel as though they really don’t want to hear it or deal with it. Years ago I had a friend tell me as much, and it hurt a lot – since then I’m probably over cautious about opening up to anyone. I was never that comfortable with it in the first place, and having someone tell me they didn’t want to hear about my problems again was a bit of a blow. Looking back, that seems about the time that I stopped really trusting people. And that’s bad.

It’s a pretty sad thing that I don’t trust people enough to let them be my friend. I’m happy to be their friend, to listen when they need someone to talk to, just to be there for them, but if I turn the tables in any way I fall back and hide rather than let them help me. It could be pride, not wanting to show weakness or something. It could be that I’m afraid I’ll get hurt again. Whatever it could be, whatever it is, I really need to change it, but now I don’t know how. I can’t just ask someone to be my friend – I tried that in an indirect sort of way, and it felt false to me.

The thing is, I could really use someone to talk to about how I feel about the future, the potential of having kids, fights with Adam, serious things that you don’t really cover in small talk with casual friends and acquaintances. How do you start conversations like that? How do you do it without feeling like you’re just whining, and that they don’t want to hear about your petty annoyances or your actual problems?

It’s like I need an invitation. I need to know outright that it’s safe to talk to you, that you won’t turn me away when things get a little dark or dirty. Because you know, when you’ve got a dark and dirty past, that’s how things get sometimes. And when you have a fight with someone, or when you feel insecure about your life, or you’re upset about something, uncertain, unwilling, whatever it is – these things aren’t pretty happy light and smiles.

It’s not like I’m always dark and depressed – far from it. But there are times that I need someone to talk to, and it can’t always be Adam.

Now to figure out how to move towards this concept of letting friends become more than casual…


  • ashkitty

    October 22, 2006 at 7:07 am

    I know it’s not the same as having someone in-person, but consider this an invitation, any time you need to talk.

  • _devin_

    October 22, 2006 at 7:56 am

    Jenny serves yet another philosophical powerball!

    I always love reading your journals Jenny because you have a tendency to go out on interesting philosophical limbs which constantly fuels my curiousity. My first instinct, like AshKitty is to offer an invitation as well, but I cannot, not because I am indifferent or don’t care but realize that friendship is a true mystery and is something that can’t be directly asked for. However, we can ask for small things and take chances which in the future can lead to bigger things. We can project ourselves and adapt a temperament which cultivates an environment that allows for the seeds of friendship to be nourished and have a chance to take root and grow.

    This is all starting to sound a little corny and self-helpy! And that is not me! I am more into the social justice and politics thing. 🙂 From a personal point of view, I am at a weird place. About 6 months ago I lost a very good friend who I shared my innermost fears and feelings…a friendship that spanned the course of 11 years. As to why it ended, I am not entirely sure. That is where the mystery comes in and relaying the superficial events that led to the fallout would not do justice to explaining why things occurred as they did. Just as mysterious is a friendship that I ended deliberately 3 years ago…but now this person is coming back into my life and this surprises me. He reached out to me after 2 1/2 years expecting rejection and was taken aback when I explained that I had been meaning to call him.

    Friendship is indeed mysterious. All I really know about it myself is that it takes courage, a willing to open oneself up, a tremendous amount of energy, and reciprocation and balance from both you and your friend.

  • laquira

    October 22, 2006 at 9:08 am

    What can I say besides I know how you feel?

    But – I really don’t think we’re alone in this. I mean, I even had a conversation with one of my bosses (odd, but he’s a nice guy)… and he said about the same, had about 2 real friends that he felt he could “worst case” show up on their doorstep and be taken in for a night/week.

    The friends vs. friendly problem is a hard one. I look at my sister in law – and she has piles of friends. Me.. few..? and no one I really go out for coffee with/chat with/blah blah blah…

    If you do figure out how to do the whole – friends – thing.. let me know. Sometimes I’d like to ask the SIL, how she does it…. but I’ve met her friends, and I don’t know if I’d even care to be friends with them…

  • bebby

    October 23, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    I’m always available for coffee, etc.

    • Jenny Lee Silver

      October 24, 2006 at 5:56 am

      Well maybe we should go for coffee sometime or something… Especially now that I work in town again instead of always staying on the north shore…

      • bebby

        October 24, 2006 at 5:22 pm

        And even more that work three blocks from where I live!