I fear that my definition of "friend" isn't really accurate anymore. I call so many people my friend. I have always applied the term to the people I know and nearly always start a story I'm telling my husband "My friend ______ said..." The time has come to reevaluate that.
As I grow older (which I am extra conscious of this week) I am realizing that nearly every person I apply the term friend to is merely acquaintance. It is a distressing realization in more ways than one. Many of the people I have been closest to friendship wise throughout my life are now people I rarely hear from. When I was younger and more outgoing I could strike up an instant rapport with people and easily adjust to changes and new settings, but now I find it very difficult to get to know new faces and even more difficult to find people willing to reciprocate the time and effort I put into relationships. If I am your friend you can count on me. Many of the "friends" I have had in the past take advantage of that knowledge in different ways. At the end of the day the people I should be calling my friends are few and far between.
I'm going to try an experiment. For the next week I'm going to do my best to remove the word "friend" from my vocabulary. I am going to replace the phrase "my friend" with the person's first name and a few adjectives as to where I know them from if necessary when speaking to my husband. I'm also going to stop referring to the folks on Facebook as my friends (even though of the 480+ people who are listed as my Facebook "friends" I actually know and have more than a passing acquaintance with 99% of them) even if they are. I'm just going to think of how these people really fit into my life, and evaluate if they are important to me and if I am important to them. Unfortunately a large percentage of these folks would probably classify me as unimportant no matter how I try to please them.
I'm also going to try and let go of the need to be accepted and place less importance on it. Hopefully it will help me form healthier relationships. I am sure it is going to be a long haul, but I am just as sure that it needs to happen. I can't even count how many times I have gone out of my way to to something nice for someone or to cater to people who have no appreciation for me. I see those memes on Facebook all the time that say something to the tune of "I could car less what you think of me and my opinions" and wish that I could literally care less about some things and some people. I am too much of a bleeding heart and it is probably one of my most mixed qualities. It can be a blessing to be sensitive to others and it can also be a curse to care so much that I place their opinions above my own.
Hopefully some of you will be able to help me with this. All of my family members that have told me that I'm a pushover and I need to get a backbone and to "stop giving so much of myself away", take note: I need some people around pointing out my flaws as much as I need people who are willing to help me change my destructive patterns. If you are a true friend to me it would help to know that you're excited that I am taking this step.
In the coming days I will head back to the thankfulness posts that you're used to. I am thankful that I have had all kinds of relationships in my life - good ones, bad ones, and those of the screwball comedy variety. I am thankful for the people who have crossed my path, good and bad because they unknowingly have done much to shape the person I am. Much love to all of you.