This week has been hard for me. I’ve been sleeping badly; my son William is co-sleeping and waking me up regularly to feed for comfort. There’s also something in the air, full moon energy, perhaps.
A part of me wanted to take my two ‘work’ days and use them to read, sleep, eat chocolate and watch Netflix. But another, bigger part of me wanted to stick to my commitment to execute my usual work routine, a big part of which is writing a blog or email post and spending some time on Instagram.
Me this week. Dirty pyjamas, tired eyes and all.
The bigger part won. Despite the circumstances, I ran my usual ‘writing’ bath and smashed out 2,000-odd words on a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a long time – friendships. I even made a start on an accompanying Instagram story.
As I wrote the post, I reflected on a recent breakdown in communication between an old friend and me. We talked about collaborating on a project that was very close to my heart. I conveyed my passion for the project with vulnerability and authenticity, which was rewarded when she agreed to work with me. (With no money upfront.)
However, I didn’t hear back from her for several months after the fact, and when I did, the message was relatively glib – “Sorry for bailing on the project, I’ve been busy”, was the gist.
I felt so disappointed. The message sent me spiralling into a place of feeling like everyone is out to hurt me and nobody takes me seriously or cares about me. But I also decided I was worth more than that, and it was time to move on from that friendship.
I kept the exchange out of my mind for a few more months, not replying to the message. That was the first time in my life that I’d ghosted someone. Writing the blog post about friendships, and reflecting on my friendship patterns, brought it all to the surface. I decided to reach out and explain why I had ghosted and how her message had made me feel. It was a rare instance of sharing my experience with someone.
I thought about my message, sent it off and wondered what would come of it. I didn’t have to wait too long. The reply came through, and it was not what I expected. It denied wrongdoing, deflected blame and put a serious question mark on whether she was interested in our friendship anymore either.
At this point, it would have been easy for me to give up on the friendship (again) myself. But I practice a little game called ‘What’s in this for me’ and decided to play. I reread my message and decided there was a lot of ego in there. I had made assumptions, done some projecting and came across with a hint of superiority – my go-to when feeling threatened or vulnerable.
I decided to try a do-over, apologised for how I had conveyed my message and shared it again with less ego. This time it landed. And when it did, and I realised the difference between sharing from ego and sharing from heart, I decided that my 2,000-word post on friendships was garbage.
I rewrote it. I slept on it. I avoided it. I read it again and again. I tentatively shared my thoughts on an Instagram story, a practice run. And here I am, rewriting it again.
This email summarises what I have learned about myself through my platonic friendships.
Last year I received excellent advice that has stuck with me. It was this; true communication is the response you get.
I historically haven’t gotten the response that I want or expect in communication with friends. When that has happened, the easy train of thought is, “It’s them; they’re the problem”.
My Instagram community has been privy to at least two friendship breakdowns. At what point do I stop to ask myself what they all have in common? (It’s me, I’m the common denominator.)
Blame is easy, but self-reflection is not. I want to do better. I have struggled with friendships for my entire life, ironic considering my 377,000 online friends, and it’s time to change.
What do you mean? I have 377,000 friends!
This latest potential friendship breakdown is only the latest in a long line of failed friendships. The pattern goes back as far as I remember – back to primary school.
I attract a particular type of person into my life. I’m generalising here, and I apologise to my friends reading this and saying, “Hey, I’m not like that”. But here’s my *general* list. I attract people that:
- Have a lot going on in their life and therefore don’t have much time to give to a friendship.
- Have had a tough life but take the approach that it’s okay because they’re strong and others have it worse than them.
- Don’t ask or need a lot from me. I can hide in plain sight and give very little of myself.
- Don’t give a lot to me because of all the above reasons and because I never ask for anything.
I’ve prided myself on being a low-maintenance friend. I’ve often been an inconsistent friend. I have been self-absorbed, especially in the past. My friends have been self-absorbed, mainly for the above reasons – they’ve got their own shit going on. I don’t communicate openly and vulnerably because I’m scared of being hurt. That’s how I show up. That’s the dynamic of most of my platonic friendships to date.
My beautiful friend Emmanuelle. Our little girls were born on the same day in the same hospital and are best friends. We were born one year and one day apart, delivered by the same obstetrician. We lived our whole lives on the Gold Coast and didn’t meet properly until 2021.
There is an element of low self-esteem here. My subconscious beliefs are that I’m not worthy of love and I’m nothing special. I know that because of the reality I’ve manifested.
And the people close to me are quick to generalise and tell me that [insert name of ex-friend] didn’t deserve me and treated me like shit.
I wish it were that black and white.
The truth is, I’ve played my role. The way that I’ve shown up has created my reality. I don’t have many close friendships. And the ones I do have come to be through working fucking hard at them.
Kaitski and I have had to renegotiate our entire relationship on so many levels. I don’t often tell you, Kait, but I am very grateful for you. Especially when you do my hair and makeup. 😉
Even then, I sometimes hold back.
I don’t always show all of myself.
I regularly don’t ask for what I need.
I often don’t share when I’m feeling disappointed or let down.
I can let things fester.
I’ve historically put others before myself.
And I’m tired of it.
I am ready to change by practising communicating openly and vulnerably with my existing friends and attracting new people into my circle.
People that see me.
People that let me see them.
People I can have difficult conversations with.
People I can trust to be there for me even when things are hard.
People that won’t run away when one of us fucks up.
People I can ask for help.
People who will accept my help.
People who are willing to meet me and know that I am not as sure of myself as I let on.
Some days I don’t have a fucking clue how to human.
But I do know this. I have the power to create my own reality. And I don’t want to hold onto my old stories of being unlovable and nothing special. I’m ready to make new friends.
How’s this for a listing:
I’m not perfect. I don’t have a lot of time. I’m often very, very tired. I sometimes slip into my old ‘rescuer’ role and try to fix things. My shadow shows up as superiority and smugness, especially when I feel threatened.. I’m a terrible singer. Truly dreadful. But it doesn’t stop me from singing. ????Oh, and if you come over for dinner, I will likely end up in my underwear at some point. It’s just a thing I do.
Underwear is all you need, really.
I also have a ready, dry wit. (I use humour to mask my pain, but so what?) I have good ideas. I’m never complacent, and I always question the status quo. I want to live an extraordinary life and be in touch with my intuition. I’m surprisingly spiritual, but not how you would expect. I love being a mum. I’m a hell of a cook.
People say lovely things to me that I don’t fully believe. Things like this:
“You’re a very human being. Very human beings prevail”.
“Your true super power, I think, has always been your willingness to be so authentic and genuine, a true generosity of spirit.”
“I’m smitten by you. You’re brave, unpretentious, authentic. I’m 74 years old and still have much to ‘learn’. I feel you’re a healing force in this crazy world.”
I’m continually humbled by the messages I get sent.
“Your warmth, intelligence and kindness shines through and the conversation we had during our time together was so refreshing, so thank you again.”
Don’t let them fool you, though. I’m still a hot mess at times, doing my best, fucking up, hurting people, allowing myself to be hurt and trying to learn from it all.
And I’m a bit of a dag, let’s face it.
If I sound like someone you could get to know better, I am accepting applications for new friends!
I’m ready to meet new people. I want to shout lunch for four new people over the coming months. It will always be a Tuesday. I will always have my son William with me. I can’t promise that I’ll be showered or rested. But I want to see where this takes me.
You can use this as an opportunity to make a friend, practice your social skills, or just use and abuse me (pick my brain) for your own gain. I don’t mind. It’s all a lesson for me. I’ve never put myself out there like this before.
You’ll need to be able to get to Main Beach, Gold Coast, for an in-person lunch.
My dream friend is someone I can admit weakness to and ask for help; a hot meal or watching my kids while I take a breather. And I want to be that friend to them too, someone who can admit when they’re not doing so well and need help.
I want friends I can give to but not feel taken advantage of, friends that will give but I won’t feel indebted to. I. Want. The. Village. Women supporting women. I have this already; I want more of it.
I want in-person friends—someone to drop over a cupcake or call in to pick up a cup of sugar.
And oh god, I want friends that I can be myself with. I want people in my life who agree that society is a toxic mess. People who want to do something about it, to live a life that feels purposeful and full. Friends who aren’t going to settle and who will hold me to the same standard.
If you think we’ll get along, just email and tell me why. If I agree, we’ll set up a time. Easy as.
I believe that all change comes from awareness of the problem and an intention to do better. My whole life has been subconsciously attracting friends and never putting myself out there. Now I am taking charge.
Let me ask you:
Do you let your friends in?
Do you show all of yourself?
Do they let you see them?
What are your patterns?
If there’s stuff for you in this, take it on. It’s never too late to change. You are a beautiful, deep, lovable, messy human. I love you. X
Possibly my favourite friendship photo of all time. Garry, you’re my OG. x
P.S. I don’t know if the friendship mentioned above will survive. Time will tell. But things feel complete either way now. We ‘see’ each other.
** Originally shared to my email database on the 4th of August, 2023 **