Friends Lost and Found

I have been reading a few books lately around the topic of change and happiness and not only has it been very inspirational, enlightening, but it has also proved very practical in that I now have two pages of notes for action.

I used these books to help me reflect and appraise all aspects of my life (this wasn’t the intention when I began ‘A Year of Living Danishly’ and ‘Leap Year‘ by Helen Russell, but things took their own course from there). In doing so I’ve been surprised, and somewhat alarmed, to find that I’m suddenly starting to feel old. I fear I am recognising the feelings that induce one to don leather trousers and buy a motorbike (spoiler alert – I won’t be doing either!). This is a new feeling and it has come like a bolt from the blue. I’m approaching middle age. In all honesty, I’m not taking it very well and have found myself feeling pretty low.

This has exacerbated the sense that many of things I want to achieve are slipping away from me.

A quote came to me from Jo the other week:

The days are long, but the years are short.

I can’t help but find this incredibly sad and I instantly feel filled with guilt and sadness whenever I hear it or it runs through my head.

  • ‘What have I done with my 37 years?’
  • ‘What could I have done?’
  • ‘What more could I do?’
  • ‘Why am I still at this stage of questioning and not at the stage of answering?’
  • ‘Am I being a good enough parent?’ (I’m already guilty and sad about the days I lack the energy, induced by lack of sleep, to fulfil Ferdi’s insatiable appetite for running and playing chase)
  • ‘It’s about time I had the difficult conversations that are hanging over me’ (ug!)
  • ‘Why am I living in the West of Scotland when I am constantly questioning whether it has the ability to fully nurture me?’

So, where does that leave me just now? Well, thankfully I’m propped up by two adorable children and the best woman I’ve ever met, so with these three with me, I know there’s always sunshine not too far away, but it does mean I need to tackle my list of action.

As someone who has grown up with a total aversion to confrontation (difficult conversations, minor disagreements through to sending cold food back to the kitchen are included here), this fills me with utter dread. But I’ve gone long enough to know that without doing so, will only further this sense of guilt, burden and a lack of authenticity. So, I began working on my list.

I have begun de-cluttering my possessions (farewell awesome, colourful jumpers from my Oxford days) and have been considering my relationships to my friends.

I have always been a tad envious of folk who seem to have collected and nurtured a close group of friends that stay with them throughout their lives. Sadly, I’ve been a tad more wanton with my friends over the years, so those who have any sense of who I have been in my various guises throughout life are a very rare breed indeed.

So, one lunchtime I wrote a list of friends that have come and gone. As well as that, I wrote a few notes beside each one as to why the friendship failed. This was actually very illuminating and revelatory and having done it, I’d recommend it to anyone as it reveals a lot about yourself that you may not have realised before.

There were two very clear themes which emerged:

  1. Lack of authenticity. This was where I’d entered into friendships when I wasn’t being truly authentic to myself (this includes the lengthy time it took me to begin to find my authenticity) and, so once the thing we held in common was removed, there was very little to keep the friendship viable.
  2. Insecurity. I was genuinely shocked to see the number of friends (close and not-so-close) I’d jettisoned through my own insecurities. Too often I’ve felt threatened, challenged, undermined or even mocked by friends and have struggled to recognise that it was my insecurities that were playing my hand, not them. Sadly, I’ve let some really good friends go because of this.

Armed with this new insight, where does this leave me?

Authenticity. This was my aim in 2017 and if I can continue to be more authentic I will attract the right people for me and be in a better place to nurture those friendships.

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