I think a lot of these feelings started when I moved in early 2010. Or if I'm really being honest, I think they started when I went through a terrible relationship back in the summer of 2009. I ended up breaking things off with a guy that completely ripped my world apart. And after that, I convinced myself that I was so ignorant for not seeing any of the red flags. I was stuck in a pattern of settling. And I started to realize that I had let the very act of settling, or the inability to say no seep into every area of my life—my job, my friends, my family. And I've been slowly reevaluating and cutting the bad spots out, one by one ever since.
Another recent change that may have triggered these feelings is that I began working from home a few months ago. I literally go days at a time without seeing anyone that I actually know. I have a significant amount of time on my hands to think about my life, and what really matters to me. The thing is, it's gotten to be a very short list, and that frankly makes me very sad. I've always been an extremely outgoing person with many friends. I've realized that I have very few people who actually know me, the real me. I started to think about the people in my life who I truly love, and how much I really matter to them. I know there will likely be a lot of naysayers who read this and say, "Oh, everyone loves you." And yes, I know that people love me. But there is a difference in saying you love someone and actually feeling that you are loved and are important to others.
So I started thinking about my real friends; the ones that really do love me for exactly who I am. The ones that will hang out with me in sweats and no makeup and have a glass of wine—or it's not a big deal if either of us pop in for a visit unexpectedly. The ones that I have tough, honest conversations with. Many of my "friends" were just people from my past that don't really know anything about me anymore. In spite of this realization, I've continued to try to be open to my friendships, but it's left me feeling very lonely and made me take some very long hard looks in the mirror. If others don't know me, do I really know myself?
The part of this journey that's been the hardest is that I'm not trying to permanently cut anyone out of my life or be malicious. I'm definitely not trying to make anyone feel like I don't care. It's just that because I'm a giving/loyal person, I've just felt empty lately. I can't be a half-friend; it's not in my nature. And because I had so many friends in my life, and never questioned what kind of relationship we actually had, I gave 100% to everyone. I ran out of giving. And I told several people this, and it wasn't well received. People felt like I was keeping score, or that had high expectations. And I wasn't trying to imply that at all. I just wanted my friends to see that everyone has a threshold. After the last few years, I've definitely reached mine. And I just need to fill up my tank for a while so that I can continue to be the kind of person that I know God wants me to be. The giver, the girl who always calls on your birthday, who sends cards, who takes last-minute road trips for important events, who will craft crazy things for your party/wedding/ baby shower, who volunteers for things, accepts most invitations even when I'm tired, and who wants to enjoy every moment of life.
The other complicated piece to this puzzle? I understand that everyone has busy, complicated lives. Most of my friends are married, have kids, mortgages, successful careers, relatives all over the globe, and many hobbies. And I'm so happy for them because of these things. I just also realize that because they are so busy, that I can't expect the certain things from them. They are busy giving too. If I want to talk to one of my closest girlfriends, I have to worry about interrupting dinner, bath time with the baby, or that I'll wake their sleeping husband. Because of all of these changes, I deeply miss having someone who I have a real connection with. And I'm incredibly lonely—I said it—the word that I hate to say. But I am. I long to have that kind of love and fulfillment in my life that many of those around me have.
Since Big and I broke up, I've had this gaping hole. I can't think of who to call with good news, bad news, or just random news; he was that person. I think about him all the time. We've talked a little, but I know that it only makes it harder for me to let go of my feelings for him. And when he calls on the day of his big fundraiser, it just makes me want to scream, "Why me? If I'm so important, why can't you just give us a real shot." Or I wish he'd say, "move to the East Coast." These are unrealistic thoughts. And I'm trying very hard to not think them anymore. I keep them to myself and I pray to God. And I know that only He can fill that hole, but it would also be nice if I could just stay busy enough that my mind wouldn't reel at times.
I've also struggled with identifying with my friends. Part of me thinks that I've just assumed that everyone is just like me for so long that I didn't realize that some of my friends and even people I meet are closed off from the world. And so when I try to talk to them, share with them, or do something that I think is helpful, they see it as the complete opposite. Some people find me overbearing. I'm honestly not trying to be. I'm just a genuinely friends person. And then things just get awkward. I keep hearing that life will continue to get easier with age, but I find myself questioning when that moment will come. When will I have the discernment to see these differences in others?
For now, I'd really just like to meet some new people so that when I really need to get out of the house, or get extra tickets to events, I can actually come up with someone to ask. I went to two large social events this weekend all alone. And even for someone who likes to talk, that's really scary. I stood at one event for almost an hour before anyone spoke to me. And when I tried to talk to people, they gave me looks like I was bothering them — or worse, that they felt sorry for me.
For now, I'm just hoping to kick some of this loneliness to the curb, and I'm hoping that my recent introspection will help me be a better friend, and know much earlier when it's just not going to work. I'm also hoping that I can feel God's reassurance that I am a lovely, wonderful woman, and that I don't need worldly confirmation to know these truths.
On a final note, I know that this posts likely sounds like a pity party. I'm not asking for pity. I know that everyone feels like this sometimes. By all accounts I have nothing to complain about in my life. It's just that if you don't feel loved in your life, what do you have?