When my marriage broke apart my ex and I began dividing up the life we built together over 28 years. Not just physical property, emotional property as well, like our friends. There’s nothing like the end of marriage to help you take a close look at the people with whom you’ve spent your life.
At first, I was bitter over “friends” who didn’t reach out to me. I was jealous that my ex-wife’s gravitational pull attracted so many of our mutual friends while I felt abandoned for the most part. Over time I realized how many people I once considered friends were in actuality, acquaintances.
But why were they acquaintances and not friends? It took the break-up for me to realize how many of my friendships had no depth to them. That was on me. I didn’t know how to be authentic. I didn’t know how to talk about my feelings. I built a wall to hide my shame.
Being congenial and affable, I have friendships, some of which are decades long, and an inch deep. I’ve always been a good listener, as an empath, I hid behind my tendency to be a fixer. The fact is, I’ve had friends for years who simply didn’t know me.
I’m now in the process of testing the waters of being honest and introducing my true self to a variety of friends I’ve laughed with, worked with, and commiserated with over the years. In some cases, the responses have been gratifying. I recently reconnected with a friend who I shared more of my self than I had ever done before. He listened and shared his own road, one fraught with challenges, including a marriage on the brink of collapse, a serious drinking problem, and the road back to stability.
When we became friends, fifteen years ago, he didn’t drink. We worked in the entertainment industry, where drinking was a huge part of the culture. I’m sure at some point he explained, “I just had to quit completely.”
I never asked further. I wasn’t comfortable with the the quid pro quo of me revealing something intimate about myself. Instead, I just nodded thoughtfully and went merrily going along in our shallow excuse for a friendship.
This time around it was different. He shared. I shared. We connected.
I’m in the process of reaching out to people I’ve abandoned over the years. I suspect there are some friendships that are not meant to be meaningful. And that’s okay. At this stage of my journey, it is all about quality, not quantity.
I started thinking about this post when I ran into a couple from my previous life. They had moved from Arlington to the Midwest the same time I moved out of my house. Though I’ve been “friends” with them for twenty plus years, they are definitely acquaintances. Had they not left, I suspect they would have reached out to me. They’re good, caring people. Perhaps we would have built something genuine, now that I’m able to do so. I’m not beating myself up. I’m just finally understanding how much I missed. It wasn’t my fault I didn’t have the tools to formulate friendships. I do now, and that’s what matters.
Thanks for listening. Stay in touch. Connect.
P.S. Struggled to find a perfect clip. So instead…