On Mental Health, Social Distancing Diaries

On Horseshoes and Friendships

PREFACE: I’ve been working on this post for awhile and got the urge to finish it last night but please don’t take today’s blog post as an indicator that my heart is not with the families of George Floyd (or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor or…). My heart is also with the protestors and I am not blind to what is happening. It’s just when it comes to my writing/blog posts…if my brain and my heart are still DEEP IN IT – like when the President is being flagged on Twitter for inciting violence – it is hard for me to write about it. Hence today’s post that has been in progress for awhile.

My neighborhood is a very interesting slice of upper middle class life. Because it’s close to downtown AND close to the nature preserve it attracts a wide variety of people that want to be here for different geographic reasons. But it’s also an older neighborhood with no restrictive HOA so lots of people buy just to tear down and build what they want. You can have 5,000 square foot homes right next to 1,500 square foot homes. But…because this is a high-value neighborhood there is an element of a “cool kids” feel to it because it’s hard to buy here. Properly priced houses go FAST. Some houses go before there’s even a sign in the yard because there are these webs of connections people use to get a home before it’s “listed” which is what just happened next to us. We lucked out because the house we bought wasn’t on a “tear down” lot, or even really an easily “added on” lot. And it needed a lot of foundation work so we got a good deal and didn’t mind being stuck with this size house indefinitely.

I was intimidated to move here at first because it felt too cool for me. But it’s been fine. There’s a HUGE variety of people who live here and so I’ve found plenty of people to connect with. But the weird thing is…and it just hit me this week as I’ve been thinking about human connections…that a lot of the people I like here? Have made comments about not quite feeling like they belong.

Let me break it down another way: I’ve had more conversations with women about sometimes feeling like an outsider than I have with anyone who has made me feel like an outsider. SO THERE ARE MORE OF US THAN THERE ARE OF THEM!

Isn’t that kinda funny?

I mean, it’s definitely a conversation worth having because there is definitely an “in-crowd” that I’m sometimes tangentially connected to so I know it exists, but it’s a very small minority and I don’t know…I don’t think I’m missing out on much not being part of it. AND YET! I’ve heard some amazing women doubt themselves because of this leftover high school programming that tells us *that* group is better.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since this quote from Glennon Doyle crossed my path:

I’m not very good at first impressions. My anxiety makes me awkward and I don’t know if I have a RBF as much as a Resting Worried Face. I don’t think I put off the most welcoming of energy if I’m in a scary social situation and I’m often so wrapped up in my own anxieties that I’m not thinking about making sure to be inclusive.

But I do believe that most women are looking for acceptance and that those closed off circles are rare. They do exist, I mean, I’m 44-years old and I’ve seen them enough to recognize them. But in reality? Most women I meet are looking for more connection, not less.

So I’ve been trying to meditate on how to keep a horseshoe in my life…how to always appear open to new connections. I’m terrible at communicating regularly because my anxiety levels fluctuate so much (especially now) that my mind is not read to respond to a text or a call or a FB comment or Instagram message when I get it…and then when my brain is finally ready, my anxiety says: IT IS TOO LATE. YOU LOOK LIKE AN ASS IF YOU RESPOND NOW.

But then YESTERDAY I read this beautiful message on friendship.

This is what I want to promise the women with strong connections in my life.

(I mean, not every woman. Let’s be honest. I’m a tough bird to understand, not everyone can handle my personal brand of chaos.)

But when I connect with another woman on a level that feels kindred, I will make them this vow. I will bring my unprotected heart when we meet, when we gather, when we talk. I do this so that I can be open to you and to thrive from our connection. But I will not hold any cherished outcome. I will just take what you give me and I will give what I can give of myself. I will not compare those two exchanges and find you wanting, or reveres…I will not criticize myself in comparison to you. I will not withhold my friendship because of some strange expectation from you which you did not agree to. I will not be disappointed if you are not in the same place I am. I will always honor your path.

Life is a mess right now, y’all. I sat sobbing in my garage the other night because I could not go inside. I was too overwhelmed and I just couldn’t move. I was hiding. I stared at the tools on the walls and felt so alone because my pain was taking up so much of the space in my soul that I couldn’t reflect on connections or friendships. But when I did consider, “Maybe this is the time to send a bat signal out to a friend,” I was too worried about if it had been too long. If I had been a good enough friend to THEM. Was the balance off? Would they be mad I needed help if I hadn’t been there for them? WHAT IF THEY’RE TOO BUSY?

Luckily I’ve been on this path long enough to know those waves pass and the space clears up again…But later I got mad at the idea that my friends might have the same moments. What if someone I loved was hesitating reaching out when they needed me because they were worried it had been too long, or that the balance was off, what if they were worried I was too busy to help? THAT WOULD BREAK MY HEART.

I just feel like we all carry so much anxiety about not being good enough friends that we almost protect ourselves from reaching out when we need connection. Or maybe we feel like we’re not that kind of friend. “This is just my walking friend, not my ‘text when I’m crying’ friend.” Or maybe there’s a circle you don’t feel a part of instead of a horseshoe waiting for you with open arms.

I want to rethink the way I approach friendships and be more deliberate with my extension of grace. I don’t want anyone to see a group I’m in as a circle, I want it to be a horseshoe. And if we’ve connected on a deeper level, if we’ve built trust together, I want to give you the vow above. I will not keep tabs on ignored text messages or missed gatherings. I will not carry disappointment if you can not respond. I will not negotiate my withholding and I will always bring an unprotected heart to our meeting place.

What do you think? Does this already exist in your friendships? Or do you wish it did?

4 thoughts on “On Horseshoes and Friendships”

  1. Damn, my call last night WAS good timing, huh? 🙂 LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post and feel honored to be part of your horseshoe!!! ?

  2. Kim – Mama. Fur mama. Daydream believer. Weather nerd & pluviophile. Etsy seller. Fascinated by things that go bump in the night. Vintage & kitsch enthusiast. Music is my boyfriend. Sweet tea flows through my veins. Loud music and the open road soothe my soul. I love to lose myself in books. Storms and stars are two of my favorite things. No longer actively blogging, but always thinking about returning. You can find me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/h.e.y.k.i.m/
    Kim says:

    This is a beautiful sentiment, and definitely a great way to re-think friendships and our groups of friends! Per your praise of Glennon Doyle, I’ve been meaning to read her books, but time always gets away from me.

  3. This is a tough one. I dearly want to be able to do this, but I have people in my life who I find myself feeling disappointed when they don’t get back to me for days. I want it not to care, but it feels like they don’t care about me when it happens. 🙁

  4. peskyblackfly – Before I was a Tortoise, and a Tedd, or a Tomato, I was somebody's Pesky Black Fly. I'm still Pesky you better believe it!!
    Tamara says:

    This post is so heartfelt and honest and raw and true. I think you have spoken the minds of many of us out there, and I thank you for it. I will keep your words of wisdom and reflection on my own heart as I strive to do more (not better it’s not a test or a race) to attract and give out the kind of focus and intention that my people deserve from me.

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