I have never been good at having close friends. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I’ve been through some things in my life that make trusting other people hard. And I mean like panic-inducing-to-the-point-of-suffocation-hard. Not ‘that looks like it might take some effort’ hard. Actual, legit hardness (Yes, yes. TWSS).
So, yes. I tend not to seek friends out. The friends I have, I’ve had for years and years. We’ve been through hard life stuff together. I’ve got their back, they’ve got mine. It’s never a question. I know it, I feel it. These are my people.
Then there are the people that I would count as friends in a social setting. Sure, she might be really smart. He might be really funny. He might be into geekery. She might love whiskey or Gilmore Girls nearly as much as I do. I like them well enough. They’re fun to talk to, to spend time with. But they haven’t broken into the true close friends circle.
When I was younger and much less sure of what I wanted and how I felt (Yes, I actually am much better at this than I used to be, don’t give me that look), there was the close friends circle and the social friends circle and if I had stuck you in the last one, there was very little chance you would ever hop circles. Unfair? Probably. Unhealthy? Completely. But it worked for me, or at least I thought it did, so that’s how I navigated and protected myself from having to really get to know anyone unless they hadn’t already shown me in a really specific and clear way that I could trust them.
Then as I got older and collected some more life experience (I’m not going to dare to claim that I’ve grown wiser), I decided that maybe I need to be a bit more forgiving and a bit more flexible and maybe I should give people more of a chance. Maybe I could try to trust people outside of my close circle of friends and maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Now, here’s the thing about me. I find balance hard. I’m either all in to something or I’m all out. I don’t half ass things. I full ass them, or I don’t ass them at all.
Apparently this is not the approach to take when you’re working on something like trust. Sure, sometimes, letting someone else in worked out. I got to know them better, they got to know me. And suddenly, I was adding more people to that exclusive close friends circle.
Then there were a few times that it didn’t work out at all. I’d get to know people more and realise that perhaps I didn’t know them as well as I thought I had. The beauty of those social, acquaintance-style friendships. Me, being me, went all out and put a lot of energy into this new adventure of trusting people more. I genuinely wanted this to work, and seemed to think any negative experience meant this whole thing was a failure. I worked so hard at letting people in, trying to trust them and letting them in. In turn, I worked hard at sparing other people’s feelings, at being there when I knew someone was going through a tough time, or when they had something to celebrate. I quickly found out that not everyone I felt I could trust, should be trusted. That some people were happy to accept my energies, but not nearly as happy to return it. When the rough life stuff happened, those people disappeared. When the exciting life stuff happened, they weren’t supportive, they were jealous and bitchy.
Naturally, I used those negative experiences as reinforcement that my original way of dealing with people was the right way to deal with people. Cuz it really sucked when she manipulated me and tried to use my silence as agreement or when he used me to make him feel better about himself until he got he shit together and got that boost from others. It was hard when I realised she wasn’t who I thought she was, or he vanished the second I truly needed a friend. It’s easy to get all dark cloudy about it.
But I was missing a very important piece of this whole experiment; I had tried. I had let others in. And yeah, it absolutely sucked a few times. And yeah, it wasn’t cool to realise that I may have misread or misunderstood some people. But I was okay. The world had not ended. And there were people that I let in and it was so worth it. People who I’d kept at arms length. People who I’ve grown to love and trust, people who love and trust me.
People who I never would’ve given a chance to before.
I’m not going to suddenly just let down my guard. I’m not going to trust everyone I talk to, meet or spend time with.
But I am willing to give them a try.