Sunday, March 29, 2015

Things I Learned by Being a Bad Friend

For a long time, I believed in the type of friendship you often see memes describing. In fact, I found it difficult tonight to find and image for this post which did not say something along the lines of
- A true friend is always there for you, no matter what
- A true friend texts or calls you all the time just to check up on you
- A true friend never gets tired of listening to your problems
- A true friend will never find anything more important than being with you
- A true friend will drop everything to be with you
- And... the list goes on

And, these are all partially true. Usually. Sometimes. But I have learned that believing solely in those statements leads to me being a pretty selfish friend.

Here are the top 7 things I learned by being a bad friend...

1) I am not all-important

I had a friend who lived just a block away from me. I knew he'd always be there for me. And then he informs me he's moving to another state. How dare he? Obviously, our friendship meant nothing to him...

It took a lot of patience from him, and meanness from me, before I finally figured out that being a true friend does not mean you always put the other person first. Even the best of friends have other people and things going on in their lives which have to come first.

2) Friends are allowed to leave me

With this friend moving away, I knew that had to mean the friendship was over. I couldn't just walk down the road to see this person. He was leaving... abandoning me. I was angry and hurt.

But, I have since learned that friendship does not end because miles are placed between two people. True friendship isn't about proximity.

3) Friends have personal needs that do not include me

I'd be in need of a friend, and would email or text one. And would be told he's tired, or busy, or otherwise just wasn't in the mood to talk. How selfish could one person be? Why would he choose being alone when I obviously missed him? It was angering. Obviously I was a much better friend than he.

And then I realized that I was actually the selfish one. I was demanding time without considering that maybe, just maybe, he had personal needs that didn't include me, and did not need to include me. True friends recognize this, and instead of getting hurt and angry, should be supportive and give the other person the space they need.

4) Friends don't need to talk to me 24/7

"True friends will call/text often just to see how you're doing."I have heard that so many times. Apparently, it's not true. Of course, I did not believe this for a long time. I would do that to people... and couldn't understand why I started getting just short answers (or ignored).

Real friendship actually survives without the constant texting/calling. I have learned that personally, I can go days or even weeks without having a friend text me, and I still love that friend just as much, if not more. When you feel slighted because a friend doesn't call or text every day... you might want to take a look why you're so insecure.

5) My problems are my own responsibility

I remember a few times, having what I considered to be very serious problems. And when my friend wouldn't give me advice on how to fix it, or wouldn't take the problem as seriously as I did, or wouldn't drop everything and realize just how important this issue was... I'd be upset with him... to the point of not recognizing all the good he did do for me just by listening when he was able.

Yes, friends generally try to be there to offer support when you're going through a rough patch. But they can't fix them for you. And they cannot take the problem onto their own shoulders and treat it with the same severity as you do.

6) Sometimes, I am not enough

Have you ever found out that a friend is going through a tough time... and found out that he/she didn't turn to you for help, but rather sought help from someone else? It would make me feel like I'm not enough - like this person obviously doesn't think highly enough about me, or trust me enough, to help...

Wow, how selfish of a thought. I'm taking it personally and getting hurt and upset, when what my friend really needs is my support and understanding. I cannot always be "enough". Sometimes, people do need help from other sources. This is not a reflection of our friendship. Even in the strongest friendships people sometimes need something/someone else.

7) I do not need to be the only friend

Have you ever found out that a friend went out with other friends? He/she did something with another person without inviting you? I'd be hurt and angry and jealous and feel betrayed. I'm the best friend he/she could want.

Again, how selfish can I be? If we try to limit other people's friendships, assuming it always has to be "me and only me", we limit the number of people this other person could touch. Now, I want my friends to have tons of other friends. I want them to be there for other people. I recognize that there is a reason I love them - it's because of how great they are and how much they do for me, and I want them to show that to, and share that with, others.

Stop the selfishness!

We need to all learn to stop being selfish friends. We cannot expect our friends to be there every time we need them. We cannot be so insecure that we can't go a day without visiting or contacting them. We need to recognize we are not the only person in our friend's life, and be grateful for that. I'm not saying I've got it all together. I'm not saying I'm a great friend. I'm still a bad friend a lot of the time. But luckily, I have great friends who are willing to forgive me. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

They're Mine... And I love it

See this group of kids right here? That's me... the short one in the pink and black stripes. And surrounding me are my children. MY children.

Am I a perfect mother? Hell no. Am I close to perfect? Not remotely. Do I love my children? With every breath I take.

I let my children run barefoot through puddles when the snow first starts really melting. Hell, I'm usually the one sitting in the puddle.

I don't let my children accept payment (at least, not all the time) when they help out a friend or neighbor or someone in need.

I don't buy my children everything they want; and I make them ask for what they do want or need, and try to teach them the difference between a want and a need.

I don't let my children go out every night to hang out with friends.

I do make sure special occasions are upheld (such as snow angels at midnight New Year's Eve/Day, and our annual Street Dance). These special occasions are times I hold dear to my own heart, and will never make plans that do not include my children.

I let my children have their room as messy as they want (as long as the dishes are brought to the kitchen... otherwise our cupboards tend to stay empty). Their rooms are their personal space... if they want to walk over heaps of clothing, that's their choice.

I let my kids steal my clothes. Even my 18 year old who was recently seen wandering around my house in a pink satin pajama top of mine. 

I let my children occasionally let a swear word escape their mouth, as long as it is in our home (or with their friends), and not around other adults.

I let them act like morons in the store, usually joining in with them throwing balls or stuffed animals at each other, or laughing when they toss multiple ridiculous things in the cart.

No. We do not have a lot of money. But we have a lot of laughter and a lot of love and a lot of selflessness. And I love it.

So please... do not take it upon yourself to buy my child (especially singling out only one) dresses, or high heels that she is too young to wear, without my permission. Do not take it upon yourself to shovel makeup onto her beautiful, perfect face, turning her into some street whore. Do not take it upon yourself to make her (or any of my children) feel like we are a poor, pathetic family.

I realize your actions may have been pure and innocent. Maybe you truly did think you were doing something nice for her (while completely ignoring her other siblings and the other 50 teenagers you guide). But you crossed a line when you claimed you were trying to bless her. She is already blessed. She is wonderfully, beautifully, perfectly blessed. It does not take new clothes or adult heels and makeup to bless someone.

Thank you... and God Bless.