It's always been difficult for me to make and maintain friendships. I always tended to have one die-hard and singular friend, with several individuals that I liked on the sides but just didn't feel like I was actually friends with. I was also painfully aware at any given moment that I really just was not a smoothe operator socially. This seemed to be the source of the issue.
Inadvertently the people I was really close with would locate someone else they'd rather hang out with and drift off, and I would be left with a dwindling group of people to hang out with.
Somewhere in there I guess I convinced myself I wasn't capable of snagging new acquaintances and turning them in to friends. From there grew the idea that basically nobody would really give a damn to get to know me, since my attempts usually fell flat on their face. Moving twice in 3 years didn't really help, either, as I struggled to pick up the vibe of the next group of kids. Eventually I gave up and decided the path of the loner was pretty much what I would be relegated to.
Amusingly, this led people in middle school to believe I was stuck up, thinking I was better than them. I still remember the exchange:
Todd: "You know what? Fuck you. You think you're better than everybody, walking around with your mouth shut like you don't want to talk to any of us. You're a stuck up bitch."
Me: "You're an idiot. I'm not stuck up, I'm just really fucking shy."
So, yes, things like that were VERY comforting and supporting in my search to find people with common ground. Eventually I decided there weren't any.
Recently I discovered facebook and thought that perhaps it would be a great chance to get in touch with all the people from college and high school that I'd lost touch with. They found me, sure enough. I tried to chat with them, get updates from them... and within about a week it was back to the way things were, where I occasionally commented on things by them, and they rarely interacted with me. I got despondent over it for a bit, then discarded it, realizing it was the same pattern as before.
There is, of course, only one common denominator in all of this, and that is me. Something in what I do or say means that every interaction eventually results in this... me wondering why people won't talk to me.
I was very good friends with one person for the better part of a decade. Even through moving out to Seattle and moving back, we remained friends despite my tendency to forget to call or email.
We had a falling out before she moved away with her new husband, over what I don't remember anymore. While she was there I saw her chat and interact constantly with friends she'd made elsewhere, and somewhere in the back of my mind decided that she was social enough, she didn't need input from me. So I left it alone. She'd grown increasingly negative over the years, so that the majority of our interaction was her complaining about her family, her husband, or people in general. Whenever she got together with my family or people she didn't know, she was quick to tell everybody about what she couldn't eat (which struck me as rather rude, but perhaps that's my sensibilities... the host offers you a roll, you just say no thank you, you don't tell them you have Celiac's and that it would cause you immense pain to ingest it.) and it got to the point that my family really didn't want her over anymore because she made such a big deal of it. I knew there was no way to break that news to her that wouldn't be incredibly cruel, so I tried to keep it to myself after attempting to tactfully broach it once.... either I wasn't as tactful as I thought or she didn't want to hear about it. I don't recall exactly. I just know that I was asked not to invite her over anymore.
From this there were a series of increasingly negative chats, until finally she disappeared to Chicago and I rarely heard from her anymore.
To be fair, she asked if I would come and visit her there when she moved. But the thought of taking the time to drive or ride a train there to hear her complain about anything and everything never seemed like a good idea. So I didn't. And I'm sure in her eyes, that made me a lousy friend. I just couldn't handle it. There were times when she would leave and I would go throw up from the negativity. My stomach twisted in to knots sometimes, or I felt dizzy or light headed when I would leave or she would finally leave.
Once I found out she was coming back and I drove up to meet her... only to discover that she had gone to dinner with people at the local sushi place, so I was left to wander around for two hours. I only found out she was at the sushi place by pulling in to the parking lot to grab some to eat while I waited for her to reply, then seeing her car there. She didn't inform me that it was going on. (And to be honest, I didn't ask if she had plans for dinner.) I managed to stay calm long enough to hang out with her for a few hours, but was seriously perturbed when I came home.
I'd mostly written this off as another friendship that was maintained only because of the time we'd known each other. I'd seen her do something similar with other people that irritated the hell out of her in high school, hanging out with them simply because she'd known them. I'd overheard her actively complain about me to other people, as well. In my mind, I was relegated to the pile of people she hung out with because they asked and she made time, but not because she was particularly excited about it.
I got a message about a week ago, maybe more, where she commented on a post she'd made many, many moons ago about me, and how it still applied. (It was a nice post, incredibly flattering, before all of the crud of life started rolling downhill). I'd interpreted this as an attempt to try and reconnect, and ever since then have been trying to chat with her, get her to talk, joke with her... and it seems to me that it is to the same ends. Things are worse now, she seems VERY unhappy, and advice on it would be unrequested and unheeded. And none of THIS matters, because despite this, I seem to get a lukewarm response. Maybe there's just too much crap in the way. Maybe I misinterpreted. Who knows. I just know that each time I get excited about getting to know somebody, or hanging out with old friends, I am rewarded with a stab to the heart in some fashion.
All I know how to do anymore is respond factually to peoples' issues. It seems like any depth or emotion has ebbed away and there's the bare facts of what is going on. Most people don't even want a resolution, they would just like to complain. The problem is that this, quite often, seems to be the bulk of what those around me do. Maybe the skin on my body is abnormally thin, that I can't handle what are otherwise normal exchanges for people.
I still ache occasionally when I think about the Halloween party we went all out for that nobody showed up for. When I log in to facebook and see my old college friends chatting back and forth animatedly but with not a word to say to me, the ache comes again. My first reaction is to just withdraw completely so I don't feel it... after all, from my viewpoint it doesn't seem like a lot of folks are too invested in my state of being, or in telling me about theirs. It would be nice to know what's going on in their heads, but most don't seem inclined to part with their thoughts that way, preferring assumptions about my motivations and actions. Sort of like I am about them right now. Asking, however, has always led to arguments and nastiness so I'm pretty much done with that avenue.
This has been an ongoing theme in my life, and one that probably won't disappear any time soon even if I tore it down to its smallest components and studied it mercilessly. It grows very old, and I'm tired of the rollercoaster of it. But at the same time, I don't want to become a hermit. I have Bob, and I know it upsets him that I get sad for not having a lot of friends beyond him, but... you know, people are all facets of the same jewel. It's how I learn about new things, new ideas and new viewpoints. It's fun. And it just doesn't happen a lot for me.
Fuck it. I'm done analyzing for now.