Since I was a child, I have had a lot of friends. I’ve always been the “good listener,” the friend who will support you in any and all of your decisions, the one who understands you and is insightful and who is compassionate and giving and blah, blah, blah.
Well, I’m done with all of that. I can no longer be everyone’s friend. I am just too tired and too annoyed to keep up this façade.
I have friends of many religions and faiths, including Christians, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pagans, Atheists, Agnostics and those that just call themselves spiritual. I have friends that are Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Independent, and those that no longer care. I have friends that are black, white, brown and multi-colored. I have friends that are gay, straight, bisexual, and asexual. I intend to continue to be friends with all of you…but I no longer guarantee it.
A few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in our country. It is something I had hoped for but honestly didn’t think I would see. I am proud that my son gets to grow up in a country that recognizes people like his uncles (my brother and his partner) have the same legal right to marry as his parents did. It never made sense to him (or me or many others) as to why they couldn’t marry to begin with. And the fact that what we believed should have been true, now is, our lives feel a little better. Like our equilibrium has been restored.
But obviously not everyone feels the same way. Some of my friends on Facebook had other things to say, and after looking at the people they were, I realized that I didn’t need to be “friends” with them. It wasn’t the fact that they had different beliefs, although that is why I first thought to examine our so-called friendship. It was because we weren’t ever really friends. They were all high school classmates of mine, but they were people that I didn’t really know anymore. And did I ever know them then?
During my senior year of high school, my friend Matt and I were named “Best All Around.” Matt was (and is) a good guy. He’s funny, attractive, athletic, intelligent and sweet. I think I was all of those things, except take out the attractive and athletic and insert “big girl.” But I was everyone’s friend…or at least I was friendly with everyone. I didn’t hate anyone nor had bad feelings about my classmates. I could stop at just about any table in the lunchroom and there’d be at least one person I could and would talk to. I don’t think it was because I was especially kind or friendly, I think it’s because I wanted everyone to like me. To be disliked or perhaps unwanted, was my biggest fear.
But you know what? Being disliked is no longer my biggest fear. Becoming a “big girl” again might be up there on my list of scary things, but one thing I do know is that I can’t be everyone’s friend. I can’t like everybody. Not everyone deserves to be liked by me. And the energy it takes to be true friends with someone with very different opinions than your own? It’s a HUGE amount of energy, people. I know this because I married someone like that.
When my husband and I first started dating, we were both completely open to others’ opinions. We were young and wanted to listen and learn from each other and it didn’t matter that we were polar opposites. We have different political and religious viewpoints…and favorite foods and hobbies and how we place the toilet paper on the roll. He’s conservative, I’m liberal. I’m an Agnostic, he’s not. He likes Miracle Whip, I like mayonnaise. He likes beef, I like chicken. I like to run, he’d rather crawl. We differ so much that sometimes….sometimes it really is too hard. We argue over issues outside of our control (abortion, Rush Limbaugh, President Obama) and occasionally we get so upset that we can no longer hear what the other person is saying. (Kind of like Congress?) Eventually tempers recede or we’ll say something so preposterous that we both start laughing and we’re ok again. But all of that is exhausting. Now don’t get me wrong. I love my husband and am happy I married him. He’s a good guy with a big heart. I just wish he wouldn’t cancel out my vote every election day. 🙂
So…all of that energy it takes to maintain the relationship with my spouse? I have none to spare when it comes to my friends. None. If it’s not easy, then it won’t happen. Even when some of my best friendships start feeling a little difficult because of one issue or another? I tend to back off and wait for the other person to come to me. I can no longer be that person who initiates the gathering or is the mediator for your discussions. I can’t always be that person who listens to you and offers advice. I’m done. I will no longer apologize for what I believe in or what I think. I have been above and beyond tolerant with so many people for so long.
Now it’s your turn.