I don’t know if it has to do with getting older, or being a parent, or just having a lot less time, but I find that at least recently I’ve really become picky in my relationships.
Some might consider it selfish, but I really feel that part of my self-care is trying to surround myself with other people who make me feel good and refreshed, and also choosing relationships that feel to be an equal give and take. The weird part about the whole thing is that when I find a relationship fizzing out, I don’t really attach a lot of emotion to it now, whereas ten years ago (oh there I go, dating myself again) I would have spent many hours contemplating what went wrong.
Is it age or being a parent that causes us to bring our friendships closer and really get picky about who we surround ourselves with?
When I ask if being a parent is what makes this happen, I mean that because we have to divide so much of our time and energy between our children and families that what little we have left, we have to cherish. When I think about cherishing my time, I want to make sure that I spend it with people who have positive energy and reciprocally support me.
I am naturally a generous person. I think that although it is one of my best qualities, it is also one of my worst qualities. There is a reason that selfish people always seem to live longer!
In the past, I seemed to attract relationships where I was always “the giver”. I would all of a sudden (or so it seemed) find myself in friendships where I was the one making all of the contribution and getting nothing in return. I would feel unappreciated, taken for granted and in the end, totally empty.
People came to know me as being competent and therefore would rely on me all the time to get things done and I would always come through. I would never ask for anything in return and just considered myself to have a very full “karma bank”. I still totally believe in Karma and do feel as though I want to help people and do wonderful things to ensure my positive balance in my Karma bank is always in the green zone, but not in my friendships.
It goes without saying that all of us go through ups and downs in our lives. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the shit seems to hit the fan all at the same time and you will find yourself having troubles with your kids, husband, car, and house all in the same week. I can mention all the sayings here… when it rains it pours!
Friendship is about supporting one another when it is needed, but when one friend is always the rock and the other is always overcome with anxiety, trouble and negativity the balance shifts and leaves one person out in the cold. Even when one friend is needing support for challenging times for a long time, there are still tons of ways for that person to support the other.
A simple invitation for a Tuesday morning coffee at a great friends house can fill me up emotionally; it doesn’t take much to show someone you care and that they are important.
Could it be that we are so much more in tune with who we are as we get older and become parents that we no longer accept being taken for granted?
For me, as I go through my life, I am so much more in touch with the person that I have become. Not to say that I have fully accepted every part of myself, that is my life’s work, but I will no longer allow myself to maintain friendships that do not fill me up. I do not want to be the second best plan, or the substitute filling a spot for the first choice. I am worth more and I finally know that!
The beauty about it all is that I don’t get hurt or upset about any of it. It is not that I am ambivalent or don’t care, but I have come to realize that we are all doing our best and some connections are stronger than others. Honestly, you know a great connection immediately with friends just as you do with romantic relationships right? I don’t take it personally, which is so freeing!
The mantra for today: I will enjoy the close friendships I have and will nurture them positively; the others I will let go and know that I am worth it.
What have you experienced in your friendships as you have grown and/or become parents?