I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed of late. Work has been draining the life out of me and to cure my lack of inspiration, I’ve been channelling the remainder of my energy into a new project that will hopfully reignite the smoldering ashes that lay beneath my ribs. However, I feel trapped.
2019 has been a steady year and it has very much been the year of ‘Friendship’. I have spent much of my time building stronger relationships within my friendship circle and while there was a small period where I was looking for a new significant other, I soon decided against it. Why? Because I am scared.
I have an irrational fear of getting comfortable, in pretty much anything in my life. I have always had the sort of personality where I become head over heels for something because at that moment in time, it is the best thing ever. I do it with food. Figrolls were once the bees knees, consuming several packets a week until I couldn’t stand them anymore. That was a few years ago and even to this day, I find them utterly off putting. I do the same in relationships. I dive head first, fixated on this new human who has decided to share their time with me until the inevertable happens; You get comfortable. When it suddenly switches from being all sunshine and roses to farting and bickering. When the romance is gone and you just co-exist. And sadly, this seems to be happening to my friendship group.
I have never really had friends. Not proper friends. My oldest and most loyal companion is Gemma, a brilliant girl who I attached myself too back at university and 6 years later, she has failed to shake me off. We live 5 hours away from each other and only get chance to see one another a few times a year however we have one of those relationships where we can go months without speaking (because life just gets in the way) but still pick up where we left off, with no bitterness and no distance in our friendship. It is pure bliss and I am so lucky to have her.
This sort of friendship is a rarity and with any sort of relationship, a level of commitment is expected. When I was first adopted into my friendship group, their individual relationships had already been established and I desperately wanted to fit in. I would have been a fool to pass up on a opportunity to be included in a group, especially as at the time, I was new to the area and just beginning my career. When I split up with my partner early last year, these friends were there to support me and became the little family I’d always craved. We became closer and they got used to my ways and I got used to theirs. But I suppose I’ve never really relaxed. There has always been that seed of doubt that I might be the ‘charity’ friend. The one who never got the hint to leave. I always knew I was the dog of this family, which in all honesty, I didn’t mind. I would rather be the dog in my family of friends than be at home on my own with Clove. I’m happy to be the brunt of the joke, I can handle it. What does bother me is that it doesn’t feel like a two way thing.
As our alliance developed, my confidence grew and I felt like I could return the banter that was so frequently thrown my way… apparently I can’t. Banter is such a peculiar thing. It’s being rude with a smile. It is supposed to be lighthearted and is something I have struggled to master. Often my banter gets misconstrued for cockiness or a general lack of respect which breaks my heart. I never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, I just long to fit in and reap in the confidence that surrounds my peers. I’ve spent so long avoiding the fun that my friends seem to have out of utter fear of offending someone. That isn’t how friendships should be. No-one should have to change who they are or avoid certain things because of other people. And I would hope that the people I hold closest to me would know me well enough and take anything I say with a pinch of salt.
When you get comfortable with someone, the boundaries that were once there, keeping you in check, slowly disappear and as a true character emerges, it can create conflicts. You see people at their worst. Tired, hungry, grumpy or just irritated, you care less about hiding your imperfections, relaxing and becoming more natural. And sadly this paved way for disagreements. All it takes is for one person to be off balance and a storm cloud begins to develop, darkening everyone else’s happiness and enjoyment. If I see a storm cloud, my go to setting is banter, which I persevere as ‘fun’…
Storm cloud + failed banter = hurt feeling for both parties and immediately erects my defence walls and I cut myself off. The instinct to protect myself kicks in and before I know it, I’m feeling alone, isolated and distraught that I was capable of worsening someone’s mood instead of improving it which was always my intention. Time passes and everyone kisses and makes up because we are adults after all but it has left me paranoid and very aware of what I say. I can’t relax or be myself because we are all getting comfortable with each other company yet it is always me that offend someone. I seem to be the one who can’t judge where that invisable line is. Where a joke goes too far.
I will always admit where I go wrong, often before anyone else has even noticed anything has been said/done. I believe in both self awareness and self improvement and it is something I’ve been learning to do since I started this blog 2 years ago. I’m not perfect by any means but I want to be able to joke and laugh with my friends rather than being the reason they are laughing. Maybe I need to take banter lessons. Or maybe it is time for me to jump ship and protect myself from any further pain caused to both me or the other party…