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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Because I Want To

 "After everything you've done for her, I can't believe she would do that!!"

When I was younger, I had a tendency to approach friendships differently than I do today. After much trial and error in friendships I realized I was doing it wrong. I'm a blue person... People pleaser sort. When I was younger, I would jump through hoops to help my friends in any and every way possible. Mention to me that you were too tired to do your laundry, I'd run over and haul it to my house and do it for you. Need a baby sitter so you and your husband could go on a date.... Bring the kids over, I'll do it for you. I simply loved doing things for people, still do but it's a little different now.  If I knew one of my friends were going through something, maybe a sickness or death in the family, I made it my mission in life to check in with them to see if I could help in any way, I  kept up-to-date with them throughout the process and when needed attend the funerals.... Because I was a good friend. There were a couple of relationships that I was in
where I felt like I had worked myself to death (willingly), yet when I needed a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, or just a day off, It never seemed convenient for either of these friends to help me. When my Mother-In-Law was dying of cancer, I never heard from them, even though they knew the diagnosis was grim. After a while, it really started to hurt my feelings. I felt like I was being a better friend to them then they were to me. It seemed the more I was willing to give the more they would take but never saw the need in reciprocating the favor. After years of this going on, I started having a lot of anger and bitterness about the relationship and began backing off. When they called with a need, if I felt like doing it I would (expecting nothing in return), but often I found myself saying no. The years passed and the friendship faded away like a lot of friendships eventually do. They didn't end on a sour note, our lives just took different paths. It took years for me to get over the hurt and anger I felt about being used. After much praying and analyzing the friendships I realized that I was the one who allowed myself to be taken advantage of. Those relationships were back in my 20's. I now have a whole new outlook at friendships. I'm a little more guarded now when developing friends. I don't feel the need for every single person I know to be my friend. The things I do inside a friendship are things I truly want to do. I no longer do things just to please people, to impress them, or in an effort to raise their opinion of me. If I come get your laundry and do it for you (first thing is call a
paramedic, something is most certainly wrong), I do it because I want to and I expect nothing in return. Lowering my expectations of others has made a huge difference and lowering the expectations I have for myself has made an even bigger difference. I am surrounded by a lot of very thoughtful friends. When someone does something thoughtful for me, I am pleasantly surprised, because I have no expectation. It's hard for people to fail you when you have no expectations of what they should be doing. A lot of my old behavior stemmed from needing people to like me. I was living in a new town, I didn't know anyone and I missed home. I'm at a stage in life now, if you like me great, if you don't great, I'm ok either way. There is a freedom of not needing people to approve of you, not needing their affirmation. Now when people approve of me, or affirm me, it's  a
blessing, because it comes so unexpected.Someone said the quote at the beginning of this blog to me over a year ago. My response was... "I did those things because I wanted to, she owes me nothing." I could honestly say that because everything I gave her, my time, my help, whatever it was, I had given it to her unconditionally. People are going to let me down sometimes, that's just a fact of life. It happens a lot less often, because I have no great expectations,I'm not keeping score and the friends I have now, we do a lot of giving and taking as life demands it. When I give I give from my heart so there are no strings attached. Maybe it's true the older you get the less you care about what people think about you, it sure would have been nice to have that mindset about 20 years ago.

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