The Trouble with Friends (At Least for Me)

In thinking about my daughter, I have been contemplating why I am so frightened of having what I am sure will be a lovely and delightful, if most likely strong-willed, little girl. My life experiences with women, with very few exceptions, have not been very good. And it started early.

When I was in fourth grade (nine years old?) the group of five girlfriends that I had had since 2nd grade, turned on me. One day at lunch, they gathered around me out in the far reaches of the playground, and collectively told me that they no longer wanted to be my friend, and that I was no longer allowed to play with them, ever. Then they ran away from me. The next several months were miserable for me, as I became incredibly solitary and quiet. The sight of people you thought were friends running away from you is not something I would wish on any child.

The next time it happened, I was in seventh grade (did anyone have a good experience in the purgatory called junior high?) and was part of a very popular clique (guess I didn’t learn in 4th grade). One day, all the girls in my social group collectively turned my picture around in their lockers, and pretended that I didn’t exist. Especially cruel, they did not take the picture down, but turned my face over, and left me there as a reminder of me being invisible. Not one person would even look at me, they walked by me, looked the other way, or better yet, right through me. Another year of misery and loneliness and a lot of crying. The lesson was better learned this time, and I became very careful about people, extremely mistrustful, and tried very hard not to offend anyone, about anything.

You might think these were just girlhood traumas, but I carry them deep with me. Friendships have been something I don’t really trust because of these two incidences, and thus have been neurotically careful about opening up to people, always afraid that there was something inherently wrong with me, that once new friends saw, they would leave too. This has carried over into my adult life, and I have very few, but very dear, close friends. So when it happened again, I thought I was going to die.

The year DFM and I got married, I worked for a company in Palo Alto, California, that I had been involved with from start-up. As the VP, I was able to travel to Europe on fabulous business trips, and oversaw the creative division of the company. It was a marvelous job that I loved, and the company was almost entirely run by women. It was there that I found a friend the likes of which I had never had. This was someone that was everything I ever wanted in a friend, and who, over the period of three years, I can to trust very deeply and implicitly. She was divorced and had two kids, but we had a lot in common aside from that- I really loved her. She was the matron-of-honor at my wedding, standing beside DFM and I as we took our vows. About three weeks after DFM and I returned from our honeymoon, I got a letter from her, telling me, in no uncertain terms, that she could not have me in her life anymore. No explanation, no way for me to ask why or what happened, just cut-off. Gone.

Looking back, there might have been things for me to notice had I not been so happy about finally marrying DFM, but they were subtle and I didn’t see it coming. The pain and sadness from this was astounding, and now, seven years later, it still is a tender and sore place inside. From this person, I did learn a lot about how to be a friend, and aside from the bizarre and astoundingly hurtful ending, I do have good memories of her.

So, ya think I’ve got some trust issues? Other than my husband, (the only person I completely trust), I have two friends. Both of them have been in my life, vis-a-vis family connections, since our youth. One lives in Colorado, and the other in California. The only other people I am free and open with are my family. Notice anything? Since they are family, they are tied to me with blood, and they cannot leave me, even if they want to.

So what will I do to help my daughter when some crappy “friend” crushed her little heart? I am not sure I have the self-control to be mature, and I know my heart will wither and die a little when it happens. The desire to crush the little snots will be strong! Boys don’t pull that kind of garbage- at least no boy I ever knew.

This is one of the things I fear for my daughter.

10 thoughts on “The Trouble with Friends (At Least for Me)

  1. Tracy,

    Everyone in there life experiences rejection from all types of people.As for me…it wasn’t little girls…it was little boys making fun of me for many many different reasons. This hurt for many reasons…especially when puberty hit and I desperately wanted acceptance from them…but anyways, when the situation comes i’m sure you will empart your wisdom on your child and understand that she will have to feel the hurt…and grow from the experience, just like you did. What are the things you are excited about in terms of having a little girl? Think about those things. love, ccg

  2. alway there for ya, trace! exept when i finally dump ya. (just kidding)

    you know, we all believe in you and you’ll know what to do when the time comes; you’ve gotten this far with the other two (a miracle in my book).

    hopefully, get to see you all soon and keep thinking wonderful thoughts.

    love always, —t

  3. Trace-
    You will know exactly what to say to your little one and she will have two big brothers that those mean girls or boys will have to deal with! Think of it that way…J and E will protect her. Talk to you soon…AEM

  4. I always felt like I inspired people to turn crazy. 6 months to a year into a friendship, they’d just sort of go nutso and drop me. I never understood why. Like the time I worked at a salon and every woman there thought I was evil(I was vindicated, but only years later).
    When we moved here I spent 2 years on pins and needles waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it never did, my good friends are still my friends, even with thousands of miles seperating us. I think I finally realized that I am good enough, I do my best, and I’m just as human as the next girl.I have my faults, they have theirs, and you have to find the people who are willing to work with that. It’s a hard concept to truly understand, esp. when young, but if you lift her up and help her to be true to herself, eventually it will pay off.
    Teasing sucks, so do the teenage years, but if you have people who are always there for you, it’s not as bad as it could be. Thank you
    *hands soapbox to the next person*

  5. P.S. I post far too much for someone who doesn’t even know you, but your thoughts always inspire something within me. Keep up the good work and know that you are appreciated!

  6. Tracy we all carry scars from our past. I am one to lay awake at night and rehash things that happened almost 15 years ago…Glutton for punishment I guess.

    As painful as those times were for all of us, it made us who we are today. I know I am a stronger person for it. I have a keener sense of assesing other people’s personalities. Point is these things to varying degrees will happen to your daughter, they are unavoidable.
    If you help her to develope a solid sense of her own self worth and be there to hold her when she cries about it, then she will be ok. She will be stronger and better for it too. Give her a good foundation and a safe place to cry- and she’ll survive!

  7. We all have those experiences. Mine were a little different in that every time I got close to a friend she would move or I would move. The first time it happened was the summer before 6th grade. I had been best friends with the girl for 5 years and then she moved to Utah. We stayed in touch for a couple years, but that was it. Recently I just emailed her and never heard a response from her. It happened time and time again…love em’ and then they leave. It took me a long time to trust people and I am still learning to open up and share myself with others. I know that you will be able to share your experience with your daughter and hopefully she won’t have to go through the same things you do. If she does, at least she’ll have someone who understands.

  8. I guess I’m lucky that I’ve never had that kind of experience. So if it helps, I’m an example–you can be a girl and get through life without being painfully shunned by your friends.

    I’m not very good at making friends, though. My best friends are people I’ve known since high school, or they’re people my husband’s made friends with. (He’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert.)

  9. I was never very gifted at making friends in the first place. I still have only a handful of people that I’m close enough to that it’s worth it to me to keep track of them (outside of family) – and when I do run into people from my past I totally freeze up and exemplify awkwardness. I try not to assume the worst about people, but I certainly don’t trust them with my precious inner self very often. I think you are extremely normal and maybe even healthy in this regard. And Junior High is awful for everybody, absolutely everybody. Even the people on the other end of the hurtfulness. It’s an awful awful age, especially for girls. BUT it is also the absolute best time of life for young people to learn some very important (gospel) principles. If they can begin to learn the worth of a soul at a time and in an environment when souls are so fragile, they can do a tremendous amount of good in their environment. If they can learn to recognize (& be repelled by)some of the awful temptations out there before things get too terribly dangerous, they are so much ahead. If they can decide (because they are taught) to be kind and generous and (moderately) unselfish (they’ll still be teenagers…) there is no place in the world that they can do more good than among a bunch of insecure pre-teens. So there is hope, and a lot of pressure for a mommy.

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