Today I would like to shout it from the housetop, that I am so very grateful for the gift of friendship. I am grateful for intimacy with a small handful of women that share life with me. If all I had were F*ceB**k friends, I'd be in big trouble. This is not a rant against the big FB. Some of my dearest friends and I communicate almost exclusively through FB.
FB is not a new concept. Being that I am old, I do actually remember life before social networking. I actually remember life before we all had computers in our homes. Back in those days we talked about how everyone watched too much TV, and spent too much time talking on the phone. Whatever happened to sitting down and playing a game...or talking to people face to face?
But back to the FB thing. The part that isn't new, is the superficiality of so many relationships. We might spend lots of time with a person, because we work with them or go to school with them. We might feel like we really know them and are woven into each others' lives. Then we change jobs or schools, and we never hear from them anymore, and we wonder about this.
Sometimes we have friends that share some common ground with us. Maybe we enjoy the same activities, or our kids are the same age and play together. Then things shift, the commonality disappears, and so do our friends.
All the while we watch. We see how people live. We observe their relationships. We know what kinds of stuff they have, what they do for fun, what they do for work. We mentally construct cardboard people, living in cardboard houses, living cardboard lives, and we prop them up all over our brains. These are our friends.
Now we do it electronically. We watch people live their lives on the internet. We see their funny conversations with their friends. We look at the pictures. We read the status updates. Then we prop up these virtual people all over our brains.
I don't know about you, but I am not naturally a contented person. I would often look at these images that I had constructed inside my own head, and I would be convinced that other people had it easier than I did. I would somehow suspect that other people had more of everything, and that it came to them without the struggle that I experienced. I believed that other people had more of everything, and that their holidays were more shiny, and their food tasted better than mine.
And as long as my relationships were superficial, I could believe this, and nurse my resentment. Of course it all blew apart the minute I began to be intimate with anyone. The minute I began to shred my cardboard cutout, and replace it with a flesh and blood person, was the minute I knew that they struggled just as hard as I did.
Then our family changed, and I did it all over again. I felt isolated and alone. I looked at the way "normal people" lived, and I longed for the days when I was "normal" too. I resented other people because they didn't struggle with the things I did, and they didn't even know it. They didn't know how good they had it. I railed against God, and wondered why I had to work so hard, when other people had it so easy.
As long as I saw myself as isolated, alone, misunderstood...I felt justified in my bitterness. Then I got me a new batch of friends. We got down to the business of being intimate with one another, and guess what? My life isn't so abnormal after all. There they were. Beautiful, smart, articulate women. They all have lovely family photos, and more visible success than you could shake a stick at. Looking in from the outside, I'm sure I would resent them all. But looking in from the inside, I knew they were all fighting the same fight, nursing the same wounds, crying the same tears. Also they're funny. Really, really funny.
So when I am really struggling, when I feel like I can't take anymore, when I want to lay down and give up, I can remind myself of the truth. That I am in very, very good company. It changes everything.