07.24.12 Truth & Wisdom
As I have gotten older, my circle of friends has changed. With parenthood and marriage, it grew, giving me more shoulders to lean on and my daughter more aunts and uncles to love and support her. Some of my friends I refer to as my “lifers”, as they have seemingly always been there even before motherhood and marriage were a part of my life.
Some of my most meaningful friendships are those in which days, even weeks, can go by and when we finally do talk, it’s as if we’ve never missed a moment. I realize, more than ever, that much like any relationship, a friendship requires some degree of work and effort to sustain it. But lately I’ve been asking myself how much work I want to put in.
At the risk of sounding selfish, I personally feel like I want to invest in those relationships in which I get the greatest return for my labor. I truly believe that I pour my heart into my relationships with the people I love. If they need me, I am there and will do everything I can to support them and see them smile, whether it’s helping plan a celebration in honor of a special time in their lives or waking up and having a full on telephone conversation with them at 2 am because their heart is heavy. I tend to find such satisfaction in being there for the people I care about.
We are taught that we do things out of love and that we give not expecting anything in return. But isn’t it okay to expect something in return? I realized that I am doing some expecting of my own and have been for a while, hence my disappointment when the love I show isn’t always reciprocated. I can think back to many times when I shared with my mother or husband the sadness I felt when some of the people I valued so greatly failed to see my worth or were nowhere to be found until they were in need of a helping hand or shoulder for them to lean on.
These days, I’m still pouring my heart into those that I love, but I do want something in return. I want to be appreciated, valued and shown the same level of thoughtfulness and respect I strive to show those I have chosen to keep as part of my life. For those people I’m willing to put in the work but as I age and mature (dare I say I’m maturing!), I realize that some relationships are requiring entirely too much work. At 28, I am dealing with dilemmas reminiscent of my adolescence.
Just as I am evolving, so are others and so are my friendships. I see now that I may not have the same relationship I had with someone five years ago. I need to take it for what it’s worth and be grateful for what we did share during that particular time in my life. Just because I have given the title “friend” to someone doesn’t mean it will be a “forever and always” friendship. It may become a “once upon a time” type of friendship and for my own well-being I need to be okay with that.
I’ve spent too much time coddling people and worrying so much about them and their feelings that I end up feeling hurt, depleted and frustrated. In some ways, I believe I’ve become an enabler being readily there for people when they need me and yet when it’s my turn, no calls, no texts… nothing or in some instances they do go through the motions minus the genuineness making it seem to be more about a sense of obligation or appearance rather than their heart’s desire. I have spent countless times being excited for their moments and yet for mine little to no excitement is shown. I am fully aware that life happens. Being currently pregnant, I have spent more time sick in bed than with my loved ones, yet in the midst of life happening, mutual love and respect can still exist.
I need to make some changes in my life. I need to do some sifting and I need to change the way I handle some of my “friendships”. The level of love I have for some of these people will not change but my relationship with them is going to have to. Like I said, I’m willing to do the work, but in some cases I feel like I’m putting entirely too much work and reaping no joy from doing it.
I’m curious how you all handle your friendships. When is it too much work? When and how do you decide it’s time to move on and do you “expect” anything from your friends?
Featured image via amanda venner on Flickr