Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Documented Life Project: Week 4

Art Challenge:  Writing
Journal Prompt:  Words with Friends

This has been a challenge indeed: I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately. About the meaning of friendship, what it is, what makes a person a friend. I had a difficult time as a child as I had an unpleasantly fiery temper, a desperate need to be loved, and was filled with anxiety about how to behave and react - my fuse was short, and other kids were quick to learn what triggered my temper and would then get much amusement in seeing me flare up, and subsequently get into trouble with the teachers. My mother's way of teaching me not to get in a temper was to whack me with the wooden spoon or her hairbrush and send me to my room until I got over it. Which wasn't very helpful for learning strategies to deal with other kids! As I got older, my self-esteem plummeted, my anxiety and depression increased, and I had a desperate need for love and approval. My idea of a friend was someone who didn't hate me. Someone who would talk to me, at least some of the time - there were many who didn't. I thought my best friends were books, but now I realise they just fueled my unrealistic dreams of a 'bff'. 

I'm still trying to sort out my ideas of friendship, but since my mental health has improved, I am far less desperate, and willing to leave behind the 'friends' who I now realise were just using me, who didn't really care about me at all.

I'm also becoming more tolerant, accepting and forgiving of my friends' shortcomings. Last year a friend said something that I found very hurtful and nearly ended the relationship. I told her I didn't want to talk to her - indefinitely. But after a while I got to thinking that just because she didn't understand something about me, didn't mean she was mean - it just meant she didn't understand. And I got to thinking about all the fun times we'd had, and all the kind, loving things she had done, and realised that I couldn't lose this lovely woman from my life over just one single sentence.

I've come to accept that their are many kinds of friends: friends to do things with, with whom I share interests and activities; friends I can talk to about our philosophies of life, our problems and worries; friends to go swimming or walking with; womad friends. Friends who are friends through a particular phase of life, friends who share the fun, joyous times; friends who share the bad times; and those precious very few who are there for me through both good and bad.

I've come to realise that I too have let friendships slide as I no longer find myself comfortable - and that's okay, just as it's okay when others find me no longer important in their lives. It's sad - and sometimes even though I know I can't sufficiently relate to them any more, I still feel sad, missing the bond that we previously had. There are some who have let go of me, who I miss dreadfully, but I don't hold resentment, nor even a sense of betrayal, as I once did.

Getting older does bring changes: my acceptance of what is is a change for the better. An increasing acceptance of who I am has also made me less needy and less fearful about friendship.

(And I'm loving playing with my gelli plate)

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