Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Priorities and Relationships

Most days, I create a blog post in my head that never gets written. As interesting as I think it is, I know that when I post, it is likely solely my friend, Ann, who will read it. I get to see Ann at least once a week, and I feel like holding onto the posts in my head will give me something interesting to talk about with her! However, change is in the air! I've begun a journey to become a health coach through Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  One of the things I'll be doing during this year long program is writing and learning to market my services. What better way to sharpen my writing skills than to blog! Also, I'm already meeting some lovely people through the course and I think that if I share my blog with them, they may actually read it regularly! Also, one of the first assignments includes determining priorities and establishing a solid schedule to accommodate those priorities. Writing blog posts is one of my priorities and friends are another.

Now, reading above that nobody reads my blog, you may be thinking that I don't have many friends. A few months ago, I may have protested, and it is true that I do have plenty of acquaintances and Facebook "friends." But lately I've been realizing that I spend a lot of time reaching out to the people that I consider friends, but that they don't always respond, nor do they reach out to me. I am very lucky to have a few friends that call me, originate an e-mail discussion, invite me to join them in activities, or post nice things out of the blue on my FB wall. I'm proud to name them: Ann, Yolie, Raquelita, and my husband. I've been trying to focus on responding to them rather than chasing down the elusive ones. My life is definitely out of balance when it comes to relationships. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, but I spend a lot of time alone, and I'm a social person. This is probably why I spend so much time on Facebook and Twitter. I now recognize that I need to make the development of quality friendships a priority in my life. I bought a stack of books on friendships and relationships and some of them were very helpful. I started putting into practice some of the things that I learned, but mostly I did this with people that I want to be my friends, but whose priority lists do not include me. The difficult part is not having my feelings constantly raw from rejection, no matter how subtle. Feeling isolated and being defensive come naturally to me; I don't need regular rejection or exclusion to help me along those paths! But how do we know when it is time to give up on a friendship? And what is the best way to do that? I've had two conversations this week that have helped me begin to answer those questions.

Conversation #1 was with my therapist. That is how lonely I am. I no longer technically need therapy, but I pay someone to talk to me for an hour once a month. She suggested that I am compulsive about the friendships that hurt me the most because I'm trying to heal a hurt from my early childhood, i.e. my relationship with my parents. Wow! That hit home. I don't want to go into the details of my childhood, but suffice it to say that I felt isolated, alone, criticized, not good enough, outside of, not listened to, and often friendless. One of my earliest memories is from when I was 4 years old and I would make a point of standing by the front fence so that one of the girls walking home from school would stop and chat with me. So, my therapist's theory is that when I find someone that shrugs me off or excludes me, I compulsively pursue that friendship in order to attempt to heal myself. Of course, that is a ridiculous way to live. I just end up getting hurt.

Conversation #2 was with a new friend. She agreed to meet with me once a week to just chat over a cup of coffee or tea. What a gift. I was telling her about the latest time that I felt rejected by a "friend" and she said, "Why do you care?"  Something about her tone made her words sink in and I've thought about it a lot since I saw her. Why do I care? One thought (defensive, imagine that!) is that I am just a caring person. hmpf. Another thought is that I had strong hopes that this particular friend would be a "forever" friend, like you read about in books or see in movies. She is smart, educated, fun, down to earth, funny, and clever. I can relate to her struggles, appreciate her strengths, and admire her goals. But I'm trying to keep the dream alive when it is obvious that I'm not even an honorable mention on her priority list. And, once again, my behavior is ridiculous.

But giving up a dream, letting a relationship go, is tough. And, as my friend pointed out, probably tougher when I'm feeling rejected. I keep thinking that maybe I did something that upset her, or she is avoiding me for a reason, or she is just so busy! Then I mull over in what manner should I let it go? Cold turkey? Just never reach out to her again? Do I warn her? Explain? I've decided yes and no. I am explaining - right here and now. If she ever decided to read my blog, she would know how I feel.

Going forward, I am dedicated to being a better friend to my true friends and working on building healthy (non-compulsive) relationships with a few more people, when they come along. I have two in the works right now and you know who you are! I hope you'll be part of my life for a long time to come.

As a reality check, I'd like to end this post by stating that I have been a really poor friend several times in the past, this becomes clearer to me each day, and I possibly deserve the angst that I am experiencing now.

I am grateful that my coursework at IIN includes not only learning about the food that we put into our mouths, but what they call primary foods, those things that make our life balanced and complete: exercise, relationships, career, and spirituality. I'll be blogging about all of these, in addition to nutrition through the next year, as I learn and grow. I hope you'll come along with me for the ride!


  1. I'm so excited about your studies at IIN! I can't wait to hear about the courses as you're learning all this interesting stuff.

    I think you're a wonderful friend! And I'd post one of those smiley face emoticons if I knew how to do it.

  2. I love you and am so proud of you for taking this next step!

    It sounds like a really good fit for you and I can't wait to hear all about it.