Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Letter from a Bad Friend

I, for one, have never been a big fan of seeing everyone's relationship dramas play out on Facebook. Marriage, engagement, and dating are the first that come to mind. But posting about how bad our friends are is an ongoing and consistent trend from even those who are private about their other relationships. Even Zooey Deschanel is sharing blogs about the 12 Signs It Might Be Time For a Bestie Breakup.

And listen, I'm not here to tell you what you can and cannot say or post on Facebook. That's totally up to you. I just think that when it comes to friendships, our expectations are really inconsistent, and often outrageous, and maybe a touch hypocritical.

I am the bad friend who forgets to call.
I have three kids and a husband, a house to clean, and three meals a day to make and clean up after. Before this life there were jobs with odd hours. Before that life, there was basketball and school which was a full-time + overtime job. I have never intentionally avoided someone, but different seasons of my life have called for different priorities. It never meant I stopped caring about my friends.
I am the bad friend who prioritizes her husband and family ahead of you (in many, but not all, circumstances.)
Ummm, there's something wrong with a family in which the BFFs are constantly taking precedent over the spouses and children, right? Even in a dating relationship, many are dating with intent to see about a future. Now if the guy is all bad for your girl friend and causing her to make horrible life decisions, that may be different, but ladies, try to understand the life changes that occur when your friend falls madly in love with someone they want to create a life with.
I am the bad friend who often uses social media as her main form of communication.
I'm home all day, every day, with three loud kids. During the school year, I am their teacher, and I often forget to even turn my phone or ringer on until afternoon. But the computer is always on for walk-bys, and I try to communicate as much as I can on there. It doesn't mean you're not important enough for a phone call. It just means phone calls are often a frustrating task in my household. Ask my own sisters how often I call them!  
I am the bad friend who will be honest, even if you don't like it.
I like the truth. I appreciate the truth, and I will always try to be honest, even if it is hurtful. I often ask questions people don't like because of that as well. If you can't have an honest conversation with a friend, then things are pretty superficial, in my opinion.
I am the bad friend who often gets wrapped up in her own mess and may, selfishly, forget to ask about yours. 
I admit it. I am selfish sometimes. I am tired, or I'm so worried about something going on in my own life that it's often all I can think about. Haven't we all been there? No, it's not all about me. I don't ever expect it to be all about me, but sometimes, my brain gets stuck. Don't be offended by momentary lapses. We're all allowed to be a mess sometimes and sometimes, for some people, those messes last longer than others.

I am all of those things. And, if we're being honest, you probably are too.

I have spent years calling myself a "bad friend," and believing it, because I have never fully been able to meet all the expectations that come with the fun moniker, BFF.

But those are almost always unfair expectations to ask of anyone. Your bff shouldn't ever be your everything. It is ok to have lives and even close friends outside of each other. It should be ok if you miss a few phone calls here and there; even ok if they are sometimes one-sided. And it is OK if you disagree on things. Different seasons of our lives are going to provide different amounts of time for each other, and I think friends should understand that and be able to reconnect at any time. That doesn't mean your friends are never going to be without fault. No one is perfect, so no relationship will ever be perfect, but why oh why, do we not lend our friends the same forgiveness and consideration we would lend a significant other?

Ladies, I have seen y'all go through Hell and high water to forgive a man for horrible things; abuse, adultery, good old fashioned condescension and inconsideration, and yet, we can't forgive each other for minor mistakes, and often, completely unintentional ones. 
Nobody reads minds. Hardly anyone who has ever unintentionally hurt someone, realizes they have done so if you don't tell them. And when you tell them, don't expect an automatic apology, but a give and take conversation. Often our own behaviors are reactions to hurts as well, so you may have hurt them too! Keep in mind that your emotions may be your reality, but that doesn't make them truth.

So your friend made you feel like this, and you posted it on Facebook.
Just because they may have unintentionally made you feel that way, doesn't mean they actually feel that way about you. Maybe they're going through a lot, and just know they can turn to you. It could just be a season of your friendship, but if you're starting to feel bitter about it, talk to them.

I've had friends who were there through the good times, when I was a college basketball prospect and then player, with a lot of potential, and people knew who I was. They sort of disappeared when that all came to an end and I became "just a stay at home mom," struggling financially and struggling with my own identity. Most people don't know this, but I really struggled through my first year as a mom. I felt very alone and unsure of myself, and for years I felt like friendships ended because I was just no longer "cool" enough. I didn't have enough to offer them. And it wasn't fun hanging out with a new mom who was tired and cranky, and whipping her boobs out every couple of hours. My feeling that way, doesn't make it true. It was a new life I was unused to, and I may not have even known how to be a good friend at that time myself. Life happens, people and friendships change, and that is OK. We shouldn't go around pointing fingers, assigning blame, or playing passive aggressive Facebook games. Doing any of those things will only prevent you from ever reconnecting down the road, past the seasons of busy-ness in your lives. It's as if we're not ok with the uncertainty, so we make good and sure it's over.

I can't help but notice that women struggle with these things so much more than men. Men don't get all bent out of shape if they don't hear from each other all that often. They don't assume they've been ditched or replaced, or that it's been done out of spite. They pick right up where they left off the next time they talk. "Oh, sorry I missed your birthday man. That was a crazy week." "You missed my birthday? No big deal. I was out with friends all day anyway. How've you been?" And the thing is, they really mean it. It's not a fake, "No big deal," while they spitefully plan to intentionally miss your next birthday. We women, myself included, need to stop battling each other inside our own heads! Stop letting our own emotional struggles and insecurities effect the way we feel about our friends.

No relationship is completely one-sided, or it wouldn't be one at all, and no argument, misunderstanding, or fight, is ever the complete fault of one person. There are always multiple sides to a story, so let's not all try to assume the worst.

Signing off and hoping to remember (and find the quiet time) to call my sisters tonight.

Yours truly,

The Bad Friend

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