Being a Good Friend
I’m not a great friend.
Really, I’m not.
The worst part about it, though, is that I have terrific friends. I have the best friends and I could call any one of them and they’d be here in a heartbeat.
I have spent the better part of three years being alone with three children. I can’t even take a shower without leaving the door open to listen for them, or to leave the shower curtain half open so that the kids can come in and out of the bathroom. What that’s done to me is to make me crave being alone, since being alone is something I rarely get to be.
I went shopping for an Easter dress several weeks ago and had a babysitter while I did it, so I was able to go to the mall. Alone. For hours. Alone. While I was out, I saw a dress that would be absolutely perfect for a friend of mine. I even pulled my phone out to call her and for some reason put the phone back. When I saw her the next day, she said she was going to go shopping and wanted to know where the dress was. I couldn’t remember the store, but was able to describe it for her. It occurred to me then that I should have asked her to go shopping with me – we would have had so much fun.
I need a pair of shoes that would liven up a very boring dress. That same night, as I searched store to store, I thought of another friend who would know exactly where to go and the exact shoes I needed for the dress. I didn’t call her, either, but when I saw her at church the next day she rattled off the name of a few shoe stores I should try and I thought, “I should ask her to go shoe shopping with me,” but I didn’t. I need to, but just thought of it again while typing this.
A friend of mine bought a Kitchenaid stand mixer, and since Christmas I’ve had an extra bowl sitting here to give to her. And every time I see her, I say, “Oh – I have that bowl.” It’s almost a joke now.
Another friend of mine loves to come over for dinner. I love having her. Entertaining friends and feeding them is my favorite thing to do. But in the last few years, without having Gregg home to extend the invite and constantly make plans to entertain, I just don’t. So this friend reads my menu and when she sees something she likes, she lets me know what night she’ll come over. And I love it when she’s here – we have the best visit. But she shouldn’t have to invite herself over to my house. I should constantly be on top of inviting her. I just don’t.
The other day, my phone rang and I recognized the number. My best friend from seventh grade was calling. Some of you may not think having a friend from the seventh grade is a big deal, but you forget that I’m an Army brat. Since seventh grade, I’ve lived in five states. I don’t have any other friends (even on Facebook – haha) from middle school. We have daughters born a few weeks apart. We were divorced the same year, remarried within a year, and have both remarried amazing, wonderful, perfect men. Then we had sons born two days apart. We could live next door to each other and never get tired of it (and there was a time she and Gregg each talked about applying for jobs at NASA, and we had this fun fantasy play out about buying a Florida duplex). We go months without talking only because she’s insanely busy and I’m always afraid of calling her and bothering her. She’s one of the few people left in the world who doesn’t use social media, so she’s out of the loop with me on that as well.
The problem is that I get so caught up in Hallee. I have this lifestyle that requires hands-on food prep. I have this blog that requires hours a week. I have my writing that consumes my thoughts even when I’m not at the computer in a stolen hour typing away. I have three kids who don’t have their dads here and who need me all the time. I have my own volunteer work several hours a week. I have to arrange time to communicate with my husband, stop what I’m doing when the phone rings or when I hear an instant message go off on the computer. I have amazing friends, and what happens is that I get all mentally, physically, and spiritually caught up in ME, that I let my friends’ lives just slide by.
I think about them all the time. I just don’t do anything about it. Well – when a friend crosses my mind, I pray for her, without fail. Beyond that, I should drop cards in the mail, emails on the computer, quick phone calls. I should invite them over, make shopping plans, make dinner plans. Bake a loaf of bread I promised to bake or have her over to bake bread with me.
But for the last three years, I’ve found myself in this stasis of “when Gregg comes home”. THREE YEARS. So much life has gone on around me and in my friends’ lives in three years, but still I think, “Well, when Gregg comes home, I’ll be able to –.” I shouldn’t have done that. I should have figured out how to incorporate my friends into my life that didn’t involve my husband planning dinners or encouraging me to call someone or planning weekend trips to my best friend’s house. I think isolating myself is one of my coping mechanisms for this lifestyle, but this is the kind of lifestyle that requires that I not isolate myself.
I need to re-teach myself how to be as good of a friend as my friends are to me. Because they deserve a better friend than they’ve gotten.
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