We’ve spent some days exercising our comfort zone. Today, let’s go back to a bit of introspection. Remember the list? Why are those people on your list? What makes them kindred spirits? What makes others fall off the list? To understand, sometimes it’s helpful to recap your friendship history.
I’ll tell you a little of mine so that you can see what it looks like. My family is large. Someone was always around. I love a large family, but often wonder if my need to get off by myself came primarily from always having people around. To make it more interesting, my parents were foster parents. Over my growing years, we had over 100 kids pass through our home. Today, some of those kids are still family; others were adopted; most others disappeared back into the system. Being a foster sister shaped my personality, perhaps more than anything else in my life.
I became a mediator, the one to listen to the pain. I was counselor and peacemaker, the fixer of problems. My empathy gene is off the charts, both a blessing and a curse. It was difficult to feel bad for myself when others living with me had it so much worse than I ever would. Despite my care of others, I yearned for attention too.
Of course, friendships change over a lifetime. And most of those who are kindreds are friends I met when I had grown. But especially through my college years and into young adulthood, I chose “friends” based on who I thought I could fix. It was a way to get the attention I wanted. I liked everybody – but had nobody. Those people who could have or should have been my kindreds, I pushed away in order to fix those I saw in need of fixing. These people I thought were in need of fixing could hurt me, and did hurt me, because they weren’t true friends.
I’ve learned over time that I don’t need to fix anybody…indeed, I CAN’T fix anybody. When I learned that lesson, it was way too late for some of my friendships, but thankfully, it wasn’t too late for all friendship! There’s more of the story to tell, but it can wait for another day.
DAY 9 HOMEWORK: Start your friendship history. Go back as far as you can remember and think about the social issues you had, the hurts, the family background that shaped you. Just that is enough for today. We’ll keep building on our list as we go along.