Monday, June 6, 2011

Make New Friends...

It was a rough weekend. I am not at all sure how I feel about it, so maybe I shouldn't even be blogging about it, but whatever. I had some friends in town to visit for a "girls weekend". I have known these ladies for almost 9 years and even though we have lived far apart, we have kept in touch through regular (sometimes daily, even several times a day) emails.

Unfortunately, as there are three of us, sometimes the dynamics can be a little unbalanced when we are together. In the past, we have had great times and long chats but occasionally one of us feels left out. Recently, though, I have found more and more that I am the one on the outside looking in. I have no good explanation for this. It might just be my own sensitivity, but there are times that I have felt that the good natured teasing gets out of hand. This weekend was one of those times where it felt that it started on Friday night and didn't really let up until they left on Sunday. Add to that a few combative disagreements and sharp words over minor issues and it led to a very stressful weekend.

If I am being honest, I was glad to see them go. I ended up feeling that I was in a defensive position most of the weekend and it wore me out. I just felt rubbed raw by the end of it and wished that it had gone differently or not at all. I am sad about that. These women are/were a major part of my life and support system. But it left me questioning whether the hurt feelings and stress were worth the positive aspects of our friendship. I am sad to say, I still don't know the answer.

I suppose every friendship goes through ups and downs much like every relationship. It's possible that this is just one of those times. But it also left me wondering about my friendships with women and where they rank in importance in my life. Is it possible to outgrow someone as a friend? Is it unrealistic to expect to have a best girlfriend at this stage of my life when I am a busy wife and a mother of (almost) two? Many of my friendships with other women here in town are not as close as with these two, but are mostly positive interactions. I don't have anyone here besides my husband that I feel I could tell anything to, but I wonder if that's actually normal for this day and age. I enjoy the social interactions that I have and I rarely have a negative experience that makes me feel like I did this weekend. My husband has theorized that it's the stage of life that I am at - these two close friends are both in committed relationships but neither have children. He has suggested that my focus has shifted over the last few years which may make it harder for us to relate to each other as friends. I wonder if he is right on some level, but then I remind myself of the friends I have who are also not mothers and it doesn't appear to have had much impact.

This morning I received an email from one of the girls that I had an argument with over the weekend. She apologized for her reaction and explained her feelings had been hurt. I felt guilty as I hadn't meant to hurt feelings, but had also been feeling very defensive already by that point. I also greatly appreciated the email as it was expedient and very kind of her to think of me. It made me feel a little better about the negative situations this weekend as I still feel that she values my feelings whereas I was definitely doubtful about that last night.

The question for me now is "when is enough enough?" How do you know when a friendship has become unhealthy? And if you do decide that - then what? Do you try to change it? Or throw in the towel? The other factor that weighs on me (for better or worse) is that my son is getting older and more observant. I don't want him to think that picking on your friends is an okay way to behave. Or that getting your feelings hurt repeatedly is acceptable and tolerable. This realization that I am a model for him in most aspects of his life adds a whole other uncomfortable dimension to the situation because I obviously am forced in to action in a situation where I might normally be more comfortable just ignoring it and hoping it gets better on it's own. The question I keep coming back to is - what action? What is appropriate in this case? Is it an email explaining my hurt feelings? Is it diminishing or ending contact with these friends? I wish I had an answer.

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