I’ve always been a friendly person, probably too friendly. I’ve also been very aware of other people’s feelings, yet I cannot see the bad in people, I trust too easily and get hurt and this has led me to do (or I’ve always done) everything within my power to please people, even at my own expense and against my own beliefs.
As a young child (age 8-9), I remember suspecting other children were only pretending to be my friend, so I announced that I would rather know and not be friends than to be in a false friendship. The girls all said they didn’t want to be my friend and I think I was a little upset but ok about it. Now, did those girls just react to my wild accusation or were my suspicions correct? Not having a best friend never bothered me too much, although I did think about it and wonder why I didn’t have one. It wasn’t long before we were all friends again, albeit a bit wary of each other.
At the age of 11, my family moved to Shropshire from Durham (approximately 200 miles). This move also happened in October, 5 weeks after the start of school term AND during the first year in a secondary school, so I’d made new friends at the secondary school in Durham, only to leave them and find that my new peers had already made their new friends. I decided that by showing off and making up incredulous stories, I would gain friends very easily (I have no idea why I thought that!!). Reality, however, was very different. I stated that I had met John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (Grease had been released 2 years earlier and I was obsessed with it still). Needless to say, I didn’t win many friends from that!
I did end up with a group of friends who I fell in and out with (as girls do at that age), but it was when I joined the school band that I found like minded souls who I immediately gelled with. It was also being part of the music section at school, that distracted me from times when I fell out with my group of friends, so that I didn’t dwell on it too much as I’d go to the music rooms at breaks and lunch as most of the other band members did.
The group you see above, were friends right through school til 6th form and once we stopped falling out, we gelled really well and I still see some of them and still count them as friends.
I had the best time with the band, we travelled to Germany, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC and laughed all the way there and back! Throughout my school years, I had many friends, but not a best friend as such. There were a few girls who I’d be closer to than others, but it never felt like it was needed to have a bestie. Maybe that was a good thing as I could talk to most people about almost anything and didn’t have any secrets (I realise now, that isn’t always a good thing!) But then, I wonder if I missed out on a bond where I could trust someone to always be there for me and vice versa.
Once I’d finished school, I headed to college to study Nursery Nursing (no real idea why as I always wanted to be a performer, but I guess it was a safe option) along with one of my friends from school. It was here, that I developed a really close friendship with someone who seemed to be on the same wavelength as me. She was into art and music and loved to dance too and I really adored her as a friend. We didn’t live in each other’s pockets, but were together a lot more than we were apart. She introduced me to new ideas and music and we had a great 2 years at college.
We both moved to London to be nannies, and saw each other quite a lot in the beginning, but we started following different paths and eventually something happened and we fell out (I think it was my fault too). But by then, my school friend who also did NNEB had moved to London, very close to me and we stayed in London together as friends for 4 years, she moved back to Shropshire to get married and I followed not long after, foolishly thinking I would do the same with the boyfriend I had whom I’d met in Shropshire on a trip home (turned out to be a disasterous relationship).
It was back at home, once I’d left the noxious relationship, that I met my husband and also started 2 friendships that have ended up being 2 of my closest friends. One was with a woman I’d known since secondary school, we spent a lot of time together and became so close, that I was her bridesmaid and she was my maid of honour. Right up until my diagnosis, we would go and sing at a karaoke or occasionally do something else, even when our schedules were hectic (she is a teacher and I was either a student or registered midwife). When baptising our children, I didn’t select her as a godparent, it was an extremely difficult task as I wanted christians to be my children’s godparents, but I also needed to include my husbands’ wishes and my brother. My husband chose his best friend, whom I was happy about and we still see him and his family, but, to my knowledge, he wasn’t a practising christian, neither was my brother. So, I ended up choosing my second cousins (twins) whom I adored were practising christians and one of the twins’ husbands (3men 2women to my son). With my 2 daughters, I went against the norm and chose the same godparents as I knew they all had wonderful qualities that they could bring to my children’s lives. My friend could also have done this, but I think, at the time, I was getting concerned about the number of godparents and didn’t want to feel like it was the event of the century, just a baptism.
I don’t regret my choices of godparents, but I do wish that I had added my friend to the list as she has not had children of her own and she would also bring some wonderful qualities to their lives, but what is done is done. Unfortunately, once I was diagnosed, we seemed to drift, I wasn’t contacted by her at all to see how I was and this really hurt, 2 years has gone by and still no word. I tempted her into coming to see me a couple of times, but no joy. I know she is incredibly busy at work and has lost a lot of connections because of it, but to not even read the occasional ‘how are you’ has really upset me, although I still love her to pieces.
The other friendship is with a woman whom I met whilst working with my friend on a summer playscheme. We were introduced and hit it off almost immediately, coincidentally, her then boyfriend (now husband) was someone whom I’d grown up knowing and was a friend of my brothers, so we had a lot to talk about. We have grown from strength to strength since then, we had our children together (almost) and have gone on holiday together. We regularly have meals together and evenings out, both her and her husband are classed as our (my husband and I) closest friends and we have gone through some really tough times together, as well as celebrating some wonderful times together also. Once diagnosed, even though she doesn’t drive and I was unable to drive for a while, she would regularly send texts or phone to ask how I was and to invite either me or us out for a meal/drink. Just having this link to the outside world and knowing I was still thought of and cared about, meant the world to me and I adore her all the more because of it.
When I joined a musical theatre company, little did I know how many friends I would make and how much it would help my anxiety and depression and in some ways, my fibromyagia. However, being amongst like minded people, who also love musical theatre (more than me!) I have made some new, wonderful friends whose ages range from late teens to post retirement and I love spending time with them. I particularly adore a small group whom I spend the most time with and share my thoughts with. One in particular has become very close and we speak, even through messenger, almost every day.
So, there you have it, I have made a lot of friends in my lifetime to date, most who have come and gone, and some who have stayed. All have impacted my life in some way or another and made me into the person I am. I have always tried too hard to be friends with people and have gotten hurt from the results in some cases. I have learnt through the last 15-20 years of my life that you can’t make people like you and if you change yourself in order to do so, then you are not being honest with yourself and it will not end well.
I still am an extremely friendly person and I make friends extremely easily. However, I now have trust issues with everyone, which isn’t good, but I try to listen to my sensible self and rather than seeing the good in everyone, I now base my treatment of others on how they are with me or on what I have seen in their behaviour.
I’m not sure if this is useful for anyone, however, it is cathartic to be able to write it down and reflect on it.
Please share your views and experiences as I’d love to see if I am on my own in my thoughts or if there are others, as if there are, it would be good to know xx