So, yeah... I know. No one is reading this anymore. Which is exactly why I feel safe enough to post this.
You know those sudden moments of self-realization where you're all shocked and whatnot to see something that's been right under your nose for, like, years? I just had one of those. Want to hear it?
Okay. I have no friends.
Boom. You've just been Epiffed. Or I've just been Epiffed. Or something... That part's not important.
Here's what happened... I volunteered to host one of those online parties, where someone you know is selling some lovely crap and you are supposed to convince everyone else you know to click your link to buy this lovely crap and, if you bring in enough orders, you win some of the lovely crap.
This particular party was for jewelry. It was jewelry I happen to like and the person selling it is a person I like, so... Why not?
Oh, here's why not: Years ago, I hosted a party in my house and invited every single woman in my church. I cleaned like a mad woman. I baked. A lot. This particular party was also for jewelry, but this story isn't about the jewelry. Two different jewelry parties in a 20 year span is just a coincidence. The jewelry lady came and we waited. And waited. Then one guest showed up and the three of us waited for everyone else to get there. Except they didn't. No one, other than that one dear soul (God bless you, Margaret) came.
"I shouldn't take it personally," I thought to myself. "Not everyone can or wants to buy jewelry." But it felt personal. It was humiliating and embarrassing and poor little me felt horribly rejected and abandoned and unpopular. To make it burn a little worse, not one single woman at church ever said anything about why they couldn't or didn't come (I was left to wonder about it, which I did... for months. "Why didn't they come? ...Was it a decision they all made together, or did all those women individually decide to ditch me?") No apologies, excuses or reasons like, "Sorry, my kid was sick," or "We had other plans that night" were ever offered. I would've even happily settled for, "I didn't come because I don't like you." But I didn't get that, either. I was simply stood up by an entire church full of women. I tried not to let it bother me and hoped they had just all been busy. Time went on and I "forgot" about it (very successfully, obviously). It was no big deal.
I tried to tell myself I was making friends there but, looking back, I don't think I really ever was.
Fast forward to this past November. My little boy turned five. We now go to a different church, but again, we invited all the kids from his class to his party. Once again, I gave out invitations with every possible way to RSVP known to man- my cell number, my email, how to respond via sign language or Morse Code... you name it. No one RSVP'd. No one. And? Only one little girl came. Luckily she brought her 3 sisters, so he had 4 guests. He had fun and never asked where his other "friends" were, so it all worked out in the end. But? What the heck, people?
That brings us up to last week and my recent attempt at hosting another jewelry party (with a different brand of jewelry and a different sales person). I thought an online party would be easy and I did it to be nice to the person selling it; helping her get started in her new business, I thought. No frantic cleaning on my part. No baking of snacks. No humiliation or crying jags when no one comes to the door... Easy peasy. Just post something on Facebook, send out a few emails, and let people order from home. Except they didn't. Which is fine. But? One of the ladies I invited to my party posted (the next day!) that she was also having a party for the same jewelry (co-inky dink, huh?) at her house and I saw several people leaving comments about their plans to attend, or at least order from her. Some of these people were also invited to mine.
So. You know. That was...
I have no way of knowing if anyone clicked my link to the jewelry website, but I know my little party didn't generate any orders. Again, that part is fine. My life is not adversely affected if people don't wish to buy jewelry, y'know? I couldn't possibly care less.
So, I promise what happens next isn't about the jewelry. Please understand that.
A few days before the party was to end, I got a message from the woman selling the jewelry; letting me know no one has ordered yet, so if I "could get just three of my friends to order," I could earn some free stuff.
I'd already emailed or posted the link to pretty much everyone I know. There was nobody else.
That's when it happened. My little epiphany, I mean. Along with the subsequent meltdown.
I realized... I don't have three friends. And you know what? Now, here's where it gets So. Very. Embarrassing... I burst into tears.
I. Don't. Have. Three. Friends. Each word dropped on me like a brick. I (sniff, sniff) don't ha... ha... (sobs and gurgles) have three friends! Think, Michelle. Think hard. Do you even have one? One real friend?
BOOM. I don't have any friends. Epiffed.
I should clarify. I mean, I have friends. People I call my friends, anyway. I just don't have Friends. I have my childhood best friend. I love her. We have shared memories and inside jokes. But she lives a few hours away and we rarely talk anymore. We both got married, had kids. She has her life, I have mine... You know. I have another "best" friend a few states away. Same thing. It's great when we get a chance to talk. We pick up as if time has never passed. But that rarely happens. We're both busy with our families. I love both of these women dearly, but neither is a part of my everyday life. Neither one would know if I dropped dead, unless my family thought to call them, which they may or may not do (Oh, good. The happy thoughts are starting. That should make the rest of this waaay more fun!).
I also have women I'm friendly with, of course. I mean, I'm not completely antisocial. I'm sure there are women in my church or in this town who would say I'm nice, or funny, or whatever (maybe). But they don't really know me and I don't know them. I'm not going to pop into their minds next time they want a girls' night out or lunch date with a buddy.
There may be a few friendships, but they're superficial friendships. Not that the women are superficial people, you understand. I don't mean that. There are no Friendships.
For example. I sort of had a "get-together-for-lunch" buddy who lives nearby. I like her. We laugh together. She's a nice person. But we rarely see each other lately. Or speak to each other. I used to provide care for her son, but once that ended... There just hasn't been time. The last time I contacted her, I invited her to lunch, but she was busy. So I told her to get back to me next time she was available, then I stopped texting her and waited to let her contact me. I didn't want to be one of those people who can't take a hint. And I don't want to beg someone to be my friend, you know?
Anyway, I haven't seen her.
When I say I have no friends, I mean the kinds of friends you don't have to chase or beg. That's what I want. Someone I don't have to chase. The kind of friends who call you to get together, or just to see how you're doing when you can't get together. Just because. Because they can't wait to tell you something funny that happened. Or they need help with a problem. Or they just want to talk. Someone to count on, who counts on you, too. Someone who would happily run out and pick up a gallon of milk for your kids because you're sick. Someone who notices you missed church and calls to see if you're okay. Someone who knows the real you and loves you anyway. I know other people have these kinds of friends because I've seen them together. And I've heard some of my "friends" talk about their Friends; the ones they just can't do without. They're just not referring to me when they do so.
It seems like a fairly normal thing- this being best friends with someone. Giving a flip about someone on a daily basis.
But no one is calling me. That sounds very pity party-ish, doesn't it? I don't mean it that way. I swear, the pity party ended and I'm not sitting here getting tears in my ice cream. That was last week. It's just a fact. No one is calling me. No one seeks me out to spend time with me just because; because I'm fun or because they like me. If I'm sick and miss church, there will be no phone call offering to make a milk run, or asking where I am and how I'm doing.
And you know what the follow-up thought is when you realize no one is calling to ask where you are or how you're doing? I'll accept any of the following answers:
- "No one cares."
- "I'm invisible."
- "I don't matter."
- "I could die today and no one would notice." (This one is my personal favorite. Very dramatic and Sylvia Plath-y, don't you think? And quite untrue. My dogs would notice the smell of my rotting carcass and alert one of my housemates, I'm sure. More happy thoughts. But, I digress.)
- "Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me. Guess I'll go eat worms." (This last one is a children's song, in case you didn't know. I wasn't actually thinking that... But close.)
And that's when the pity party really got going in full swing. Balloons. Confetti. Streamers. The whole thing. I hired a band, but they didn't show (Ahh, see what I did there? See how funny I am in my own misery?)
To be honest, I'd already been going through a little slump. I was knee-deep into one of my Martyr Moments; feeling overworked and under-appreciated, invisible, and ignored by my family. So a pity party was probably looming on the horizon anyway. I'd already been feeling lonely and wishing I had someone to hang out with... just for fun. Or, more to the point, someone who wants to hang out with me. The stupid jewelry party was just the catalyst to bring what was already roiling below up to the surface.
And- wow- did it ever come to the surface. Oy. After being told to get three friends to order jewelry, I sat in my bathtub and sobbed for a solid thirty minutes. It would have been longer, but our hot water tank is old and the water turns cold about halfway through filling the bath, so I was crying and shivering. I got out and cried on the bed instead, where it was warmer. But, once again, I digress.
At least there was water in the tub. And I was naked. It would have been more pathetic and weird in the creepy way if I would have sat sobbing, fully clothed, in an empty tub, right?
It seems funny now. To overreact that badly over a failed jewelry party. But what have we learned so far? It wasn't about the jewelry. My widdle feewings were hurt.
And whether it's rational, or not- or misplaced, or not- I feel this overwhelming sense of embarrassment and stupidity. As if, I'm the butt of some cosmic joke. I feel like I'm in 7th grade all over again and all the popular kids are laughing at me as I walk down the hall (yes, that happened. Often. Let's not discuss it). It's as if, by collectively agreeing not to come to my parties, the entire universe and everyone in it is having a good laugh at my expense.
Wait... That can't really happen, can it?
Is it my breath?
I feel like I'm a pretty nice person, caustic abrasiveness aside, so I don't get it. What am I doing wrong?
I am extremely introverted. I am (or, at least, I always thought I was) perfectly happy by myself (says the married chick with 7 kids) most of the time. But it would be nice to have somebody.
I make an effort with people. I really do. Effort being the key word. Putting myself out there to face rejection does not come easily. Especially when no one wants to attend my stupid jewelry parties. But it isn't about the jewelry.
How do normal people (or maybe I should just say 'extroverted people') go about making friends? I mean, really- what do you do? Adults can't just walk up to other adults on the playground and ask "Do you want to be my friend?" Can they? Do they? If so, I'm probably hosed because I don't think I have the guts to do that.
I try to be open and friendly to others (I think). I try to be kind, considerate, caring... All that pleasant, friendship-y crap. I feel my concern and love for people is genuine. I try to serve others and meet their needs when I'm able. So what's the problem? What else should I be doing?
What's wrong with me?