I Don’t Know How to be a Friend

Friendships are typically two-way relationships. Typically. As I look at all of my friendships, I see that I have a door up and it is a one-way only door. I don’t share with my friends as they share with me. Why? It’s not like I don’t trust them.

I’ve come to the realization that I don’t share with my friends because I have gone so far in the way of not complaining or not wanting to create drama that I don’t really know how to talk about things with my friends. Or know what to talk about. It’s not as though I always think my friends are complaining or are creating drama. So what is causing this?

To figure that out, I need to break it down. First, let’s talk about my feelings around complaining. It’s not just about complaining, it’s also that I really try not to be negative. Negativity and complaining were so prevalent in my life as I was growing up that I have come to do everything possible to not complain or lean into negativity. This has led me to not talk about things that bother me. I don’t complain about people at work, I won’t complain about my husband, I don’t complain about how crappy I feel because I’ve gained a few pounds and my joints hurt, I just don’t complain about much. As I scroll through messages in our recent history, the most I complain about is people not wearing masks at all or not wearing masks correctly and people protesting the safety measures that governments are putting in place. 

Over the years I have become very positive about life. Instead of seeing the negative in everything, I tend to find the positive in pretty much every situation. I’ve taught myself to do this because I wanted to have a better outlook on life. It has been super helpful in working on my happiness.

As for creating drama, I have been the recipient of negative drama for pretty much all of my life. Whether it came from my parents or siblings as I was growing up, or from girls I knew at school or in jobs, or even from my larger family in the past few years, it doesn’t matter. The drama has been part of my life and I’ve drawn on drama because I didn’t know how to react to it. The drama led me to complaining and to negativity in how I lived. This overwhelmed me and triggered my anxiety to the highest levels. In fact, I would say that the drama that has triggered my anxiety is actually part of why my anxiety is at the level that it is. Drama stresses me out. Just thinking about drama or impending drama raises my heart rate and anxiety. 

Not only does drama trigger my anxiety, but I’ve also seen how drama affects my family. The drama I’ve been part of usually stems from inaccurate representations of conversations, thoughts, and feelings. I can look back and see how I communicated and caused drama. It makes me sad that I did and drives me to make sure that I do not create any more drama. 

Because I don’t want to be negative or viewed as always complaining, I don’t tend to say much. Because I am generally really positive and grateful, I tend to shy away from chiming into conversations because I don’t want to come off as negating someone else’s feelings. Because I am so positive, I don’t want to share too much about my life because I can see how my positivity may come off as rubbing it in how awesome my life is. Because I don’t want to talk negatively about my husband, all I will share is how positive our relationship is. If I only share positive things, I don’t want others to feel like I’m rubbing in how perfect our relationship is. Just to clarify, it isn’t perfect. Because I won’t create drama, I don’t share pretty much anything one friend tells me to another friend. I am a vault. Because I don’t watch the news, I have nothing to talk about there. 

I don’t think that all my friends do is create drama or create negativity. That is not the only conversation they have. They share good things and cute things with their kids. I simply don’t know what would be cute to share. I have a friend who shared pictures of her cute Christmas tree. I would never have thought to share that. I just don’t know how to make small talk. And when I think about making small talk, I worry about looking stupid or offending someone. 

I guess it all comes back to fear, as does most things in my life. The best thing I’ve done is identify where my feelings stem from. Now it’s time to do the work. Where do I start? Pushing the fear boundaries. When I feel like fear is preventing some conversation or preventing me from sharing something, do it anyway. What is the worst thing that could happen? I don’t get a response? Pretty much. I highly doubt I would offend someone by sharing something that I think is cute. And if I share something that is good in my life and someone is offended, that probably isn’t directly an issue with me.

I know I have work to do. Do you?

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