Thursday, January 5, 2012

Friendship = Generosity. Or Not

This is a topic I've danced around about here for a couple of years.  Maybe since the very beginning of Meanderings and Muses, actually.

You all know by now how I feel about friendship and connections and loyalty.  It means a lot to me to have the friends I have.  Friends I cherish and who I know, deep in my heart of hearts, cherish me back.  This does not mean everything is rosy all the time.  Just like in a marriage, there are going to be differences of opinion - and there should be.  Those people who tell me they've never had a cross word with their spouse are, frankly, people I tend to shy away from.  I think they're either not being truthful (maybe only with themselves), or they're so insecure they don't feel comfortable stating or sticking up for their own opinions.  Or - God forbid - they really don't have their own opinion, and allow their thoughts to be formed and molded by others.

All this is the truth as I see it.  Loyalty is just part of the equation of friendship.  As is generosity.  Or so I thought.

I've always recognized that there are people in my life who I think of as friends who I also have a competitive relationship with.  And it has always made me uncomfortable.  But when the competitiveness turns into something I feel is unhealthy, then I'm outta here.

I fought some feelings of disappointment when I first started telling some friends about starting Meanderings and Muses.  Some seemed a little dismissive.  I tried to be a big girl about it by telling myself,  "Well, you know, it is just a blog.  Not a biggie."

Then I went through it again when I had my very first piece published in a regional anthology.

And again, I told myself, "Well, it's not as though it's a book or anything."

Now I'm writing that book.  And, to me, it is a biggie.  And it has helped me come to grips with these past slights.  A real friend would not have put me in a position of doubting the importance of those things.  

Accomplishments which may not have been a big deal to others, they meant something to me.

They're part of who I am, and should be handled gently by those who call themselves "friend."    

I've always spoken my mind.  Although truthfully, only up to a point.  Easy to do with acquaintances, co-workers, or strangers.  And yes - I mean face to face.  I am not one of those people who hides behind the anonymity of the internet.  That's a coward's way - and a topic for another day.   But, in all honesty, telling a close girlfriend that she has hurt my feelings is hard for me.  It's hard for a couple of reasons.  Who wants to admit that they've been hurt, first of all?  I'm a strong person, never doubt it, but I do have feelings and I am basically a bit of a marshmallow when it comes to those feelings.  A marshmallow who also happens to have a bit of a temper and, sadly, a very sharp tongue.  I react badly when I'm hurt.  I lash out.  For these reasons, I've held back (or tried to) when it comes to saying how I really feel sometimes to my friends because I'm afraid I'll say way too much and cause permanent damage to a relationship that I do find important.  I don't want my mouth to ruin something I treasure.  Really, I don't think I'm any different than a lot of people in this.  Don't most of us try hard to bite our tongues so as NOT to hurt those we care about with careless words said in anger?

At the same time, I think I'm generous with my friends.  And it's an honest generosity.  If good things happen to people I care about, it makes me happy and I love sharing the joy with them.  I feel honored when they call to tell me good news.  And I want to share it with everyone I know.

And I'm loyal to my friends and family.  I will jump, with both feet, on anyone who messes with my loved ones.

Which is why I've been surprised when I've shared news that has made me happy, only to feel rebuffed or dismissed in return.  Surprised and hurt.

Where's the generosity I was hoping for?  The loyalty?

Am I somehow not worthy of receiving that which I think I've freely given?

I have to say - it's hard admitting these things even here.  But.  This is the year I've promised myself to be more honest in my writing.  What that means is, I guess, that I'm also going to be more honest with myself.

And that means I've been hurt by people who will not get an opportunity to hurt me again.




LJ Roberts said...

I'm so sorry, Kaye. I've always found that true friends applaud our efforts and successes, commiserate our failures, don't judge and don't criticize except in the gentlest way possible and only when we really need it. One can be a bit envious of a friend, but should not be jealous and should know the difference and be aware of it.

I think it's wonderful that you're now writing a book. You go, Girl!!!!

Meredith Cole said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you have friends that aren't excited for you and supportive right now, Kaye. Boo hiss. I definitely had to take some breaks from a few friends who were "toxic" and made me doubt myself. Painful but necessary--and one at least came back again as a close and dear friend to me a year or so later.

billie said...

You've written something that I suspect many of us can relate to - I'm sorry you're in that place but I'm grateful for your honest and excellent writing about it. Thank you!!

Eve Barbeau said...

I'm thrilled you've started your book. You go girl, but don't be surprised if quite a few people don't seem to find it nearly as important or as exciting as you do. I'm not saying that they shouldn't, it is just that if you are a bit of an over-achiever (people who write books and paint paintings, do photography or just generally have sharp and interesting brains) you'll find that others often play down your efforts and achievements. It might be jealousy, or some other sort of discomfort, I don't know. It is always very sad and frustrating for me, because you begin to feel misunderstood and often you just stop talking about those things that are really exciting to you.

Aha, can you tell I've dealt with this subject too? ;-) Best to you on the book. Is it a novel? Do gather people around you who are doing similar things. That helps.

Aubrey Hamilton said...

Been there, done that, I am sorry to say. And I am sorry that you are a visitor to that place as well.

A long time ago I saw an interview with Phyllis Diller on television. I can no longer remember with whom or on what program. But I was profoundly struck by the deep truth of something she said. When the interviewer asked about her plans for her next career moves, she paused and said she didn't think she would discuss them, because there were always those people who would remark that she was not capable of doing whatever she was planning.

The interviewer was struck as well and invited her to expand on her comment. She went on to say much as you have said that there seemed to be people waiting to rejoice in her failures or to belittle her goals and she no longer allowed herself to be vulnerable to them because she knew she could do just about anything she set out to do.

I took her comments deeply to heart and I hope you will too.

Kay said...

I'm sorry, Kaye. It hurts when we find those we considered 'friend' didn't live up to their end of the bargin. Seems today that more & more want to be friends when it suits them & not when it's their turn to reciprocate. Recently found that out myself with some I'd considered friends since childhood. Hard lesson. And no, they won't be getting another chance to kick me either.

I'm so proud of you & your book! To heck with those fair-weather friends. They haven't a clue what a treasure they've lost!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Kaye, I always thought it is a person's job to be happy for a friend's joy, not to judge it. Unfortunately, some folks don't agree. And I have found my life is better off when re-adjustments are made.

Bless you and continued success on your own terms.

Anonymous said...


I can't imagine who wouldn't share your excitement at finishing your first mystery novel. For crying out loud, how can anyone be such a jerk as to downplay it?

I will never forget the day copies of my first book (now old wine in a new bottle) arrived. My husband was so excited he told everyone he knew about it. I'm sure Donald gives you the same kind of support.

My only disappointment was in people who dismissed a mystery book as not quite a book somehow. What did they expect -- WAR AND PEACE? Sorry, that's been done.

Ignore the naysayers, dear Kaye, and just keep on keepin' on.

Hugs, and keep us posted,

Pat Browning

jenny milchman said...

Kaye, you know in your heart that you are on the right, exciting path. What you don't know is where it will lead. Or how those so-called friends will react when it leads you somewhere so wonderful they decide they just might regret having been unsupportive...

Alice Duncan said...

Lots of us have been in your position, Kaye, I'm afraid. It's no blasted fun (hecky-darn, my own sister told me I write trash -- she's tres intellectual, don't you know). I'm kind of used to stuff like that from her, but when it comes from people I consider friends, it's shocking. I'm not as bold as you, so I tend to let it simmer and hurt. Gotta get over that.

Bobbie said...

Kaye, this piece you wrote today (other than writing my book) could have been written by me. I've also been full of praise and happiness for friends' good times; I have been so loyal and so caring and not judged them. And yet when I really deserved some praise, got none; needed caring and love-no one there. And know I have a sharp tongue so try and be careful-but some of my 'friends' have been pointedly mean to me, and it hurts.

With the others, I am so sorry you are there now. And I also see that you are moving past these things and able to concentrate on your new task (CONGRATS! Write that book! Yay!), you do have friends and you know it, you are loved, and you are definitely yourself! You deserve praise for everything you mentioned-blog, article in book, and many more things you do!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

LJ - you appear to be one of the very lucky ones not to have been hurt by someone you've considered a friend. I KNEW you were remarkable, and now you've proven it!

Meredith, "Toxic!" That's the word! I "think" if we allow relationships that are going off the rails a little bit to continue that way unheeded they do have a chance of becoming toxic. I'm happy that you were able to get beyond this with a good friend - that shows, I think, great character on both your parts and you're to be applauded.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Billie, Eve, Kay, Terrie - Thank you! You know, it's true what's said about how you don't feel as lonely in your pain when you finally come to realize you're not alone in what you're going through. We each deserve better than we've each received from someone. And you've each given wonderfully sage advice (along with your much valued good wishes)!

Eve, I love your thoughts about gathering 'round people who are doing similar things. I guess I've been unconsciously doing that for quite awhile now, and you're right. The people I've gravitated to in recent years are some of the people I feel more myself with. I did not put that together until reading your comments. I KNEW you were one smart cookie!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Aubrey - I just knew there was more to the amazing Phyllis Diller than that crazy laugh and wild wig! I love this. Thank you. If you no longer allow yourself to be vulnerable, the possibilities are endless aren't they? I think that is nothing short of brilliant. Thank you!!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Pat Browning - have I told you recently how much I love ya?! I do.

You have ALWAYS encouraged my writing since the very first time several years ago when I did my very first guest blog at The Stiletto Gang's blog and came to you in a panic asking help with - - - EVERYTHING! Grammar, punctuation, content, the whole shebang. You are the best.

And yes, Donald (God love the man!) is the biggest supporter. And when we talk on the phone during the day he never fails to say "are you writing?" Gentle nudges, but nudges all the same. And that's a good thing.

Keep you posted?! Pfft! Why you know me better than that! You'll be begging me to please please please give it a rest. LOL!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Pat Browning - have I told you recently how much I love ya?! I do.

You have ALWAYS encouraged my writing since the very first time several years ago when I did my very first guest blog at The Stiletto Gang's blog and came to you in a panic asking help with - - - EVERYTHING! Grammar, punctuation, content, the whole shebang. You are the best.

And yes, Donald (God love the man!) is the biggest supporter. And when we talk on the phone during the day he never fails to say "are you writing?" Gentle nudges, but nudges all the same. And that's a good thing.

Keep you posted?! Pfft! Why you know me better than that! You'll be begging me to please please please give it a rest. LOL!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...



That one sure got my attention.

And now isn't THAT a thought to hold onto?!


Girl - HOW do you find the time to be a constant support to so many of us who have grown to rely on you so? I don't know how you do all you do. Let along how you manage to do it all so beautifully. thank you.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Alice, I know you love your sister, but I'd like to give her a swift kick. You do not write trash. And you know what? She knows that too. I see the evil green monster named jealousy written all over her. ALL over her. Your work is now beginning to receive the recognition we all feel it deserves - Yay, You!!!!!!!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Bobbie. you made me cry. AGAIN! But only in the best of ways - you know that!

Thank you.

thank you for always saying the sweetest things, and thank you for helping me remember that I do have friends - loving, much cherished friends. I don't mean to allow a bad experience color how I feel about the rest.

Huge Hugs!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

thanks, everyone.

more than you know

L.J. Sellers said...

Kaye, I'm disappointed for you that your friends don't see the importance of your work. They must not be writers or else they lack a creative outlet they feel passionately about.

Don't let it deter you! Follow your heart and take joy in your accomplishments.

I'm proud of you and hope to read your work soon.

LJ Roberts said...

I wish that were true, Kaye. I have been hurt by friends; twice in particular. One time so much so that we didn't speak for several years. But I had promised to needlepoint a pillow top for her her and I always follow through on my commitments. When it was done, we met at a restaurant where she told me it was the first time in her life she realized that her actions could really cause someone else pain. She, in fact, lived with me for a time after that, and some of my fondest memories, particularly Christmas memories, are of ones we spent together.

The situation with a second friend did not end as happily. But she turned her back, not just on me, but on the group of us who were--and the rest still are--very close. In that case, we acknowledged the issue was hers. We let her know we would always be her friend, even if she chose not to be ours. We loved her, blessed her and let her go, but think about her often and wish her well.

LJ Roberts said...

Don't ever forget that you have been blessed with a wonderful husband.

I've accepted that, for me, relationships are like skiing; I love to see it, think it's wonderful, but every time I try, I end up with a broken leg--or compound fracture of the heart--that is very slow to heal. The universe obviously intended that I go solo through this life, but supported by wonderful friends.

And that's my sad little story.

Ellis Vidler said...

What a good, thought-provoking post, Kaye. I believe we've all been hurt by people we considered friends at some time. I just have to hope I haven't inadvertently hurt anyone myself by lack of support or inattention to what is important to them. With true friends you can talk about problems and get past them. It's the surface friendships that don't survive differences and misunderstandings.

cathy said...

Wow, I could relate to each and every reply here, and definitely related to your blog-post, Kaye. It's been fairly recent that I've begun some hard work on building my self-esteem/confidence (especially in regard to my relationship with my daughter) and am finding my "authentic self" again after the pain of the divorce a few years ago. And even though I've made plenty of mistakes along the way, I know I have never purposefully said and/or done something negative to a friend, but I've probably hurt someone without knowing it (I hope not, but I"m sure somewhere along the way, I have)... but I've sure been on the other side just as you (and others here) described. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are totally oblivious to their actions (and words) - or that they simply don't care... or don't think of the consequences. As to you writing a book? I'm so very proud of you and it's a HUGE accomplishment. Heck, I've been writing mine but it has taken years and I'm still dorking around... so the fact you're actually DOING it and not just talking about it... well, it's awesome! :) You keep up the great work on all accounts... you are a treasure and a great friend to so many people! Cathy

cathy said...

Oh for gosh sakes, I tried to post my picture so you'd know which Cathy sent the last reply... the picture didn't go through - will try again. I'm sure you know which Cathy it is, but just in case... cathy carper. lol

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

LJ - I have been blessed with a wonderful husband. And I say my silent "Thank You's" for him every single day. Now those first two husbands - - - not so much . . . .

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

What in the world are the chances of having two women friends named "L.J.??" I love it.

L.J. Sellers - Thank You! Having you say you're proud means worlds to me. I wish there was a way for everyone to learn to follow their hearts early in life. It's really not all about doing the expected things,is it? OR the things we do to please others.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Ellis, Thank you! Since writing this piece and reading it over a few times, along with the comments from everyone, I too am wondering who I may have hurt in the past inadvertently. I've learned a lesson here, I think, to pay closer attention.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Cathy, WHAT a sweetheart you are. Honey, I cannot imagine that you have ever brought anyone in your life anything other than joy. Truly. And I want you to get back to your writing! Don't make me come up there! (although it would be a whole bunch of fun!).

Brenda Buchanan said...


Hooray for you for writing your first novel. And good for you for airing out this issue of friends who withhold deserved support and praise.

I'm sorry for your hurt and admiring of your courage.

Earl Staggs said...

Kaye, what a courageous thing for you to write this. I think most of us have experienced what you describe at one time or another. In most cases, I think it's some form of jealousy. Other times, there may be something going on in the other person's life so powerful that they didn't realize what they were doing to you. Either way, we shouldn't give them a chance to do it again, but at the same time, leave the door open in case there is more to the story.

You, darlin', deserve only the best from people because that's what you give. Don't you let anything change that.

Sarah from Canberra said...

Oh, Kaye. Am just catching up with the blog (here's a topic for my own piece!) and feel so strongly for you. You write beautifully and I'm so excited that you're working on a book! And I'm so p*ssed off that people have been dismissive of you - you're one of the few people I know who is only ever supportive of people, and it's the least you deserve in return. But then I remember a "friend" back in my uni days who I basically nursed through her exams because she was convinced she was a failure; she scraped through, and a couple of months later when a long term relationship ended the first things she told me was to suck it up, surely I could have seen it wouldn't last. And I realised that was the pattern of our "friendship"... and I let it go. Surround yourself with people who bring you the same sort of light you shine on the rest of us. xxx