A couple of years ago, I posted a blog entry about a friend of mine who was moving far away and I was incredibly sad about it. That blog, to date, is my post popular post, and it seemed to resonate with readers who felt, as I did, that… gosh, friendship is so hard as an adult.
Several months later, my friend moved back and I realized what it was that truly bothered me: I hadn’t outright told her how much I was going to miss her, hadn’t made the most of our time together, and I vowed not to make the same mistake again.
This year, 2012, brought to light for me the need to not only tell people what they mean to you but to DO IT NOW, first when my father-in-law passed away, then when a friend died and her husband casually let us know. In my father-in-law’s case, he really never approved of me, and my husband and I went years without speaking to him. We really should have taken the time to clear the air with him while we had the chance. When the time came for him to go (or, rather, he decided it was his time; believe me, he ran that show), he called in each of his kids and their spouses to speak with them privately. Except me: I was at work and had been told to stay home. He had been somewhat active on Facebook – yes, 75-year-olds use social media – and the very last thing ever posted to his wall was me wishing him happy birthday two weeks before his death. Aside from that, I didn’t get to say goodbye.
My friend Susan and I had been coworkers a long, long time ago. She was a quality assurance engineer at the software company we worked at, and I was a technical recruiter. Her husband owned a music store and worked as a police officer in the small town my husband and I live in. We had talked, off and on, for well over a decade about having dinner at their house and somehow life happened instead until one day she was gone. I never saw her socially after 2001 (just briefly, while she was on a ride-a-long with her husband) and, again, no final goodbye.
Part of my issue with this is that, sometime during my formative years, I convinced myself that people are irritated by my presence. Therefore, I am very good at giving them their space, which is often interpreted as disinterest. My husband has vocalized this when I don’t reply to an email right away. So have previous boyfriends, guys I was dating, potential friends, potential employers and many others over the years.
My perceived disinterest turned people off, which in turn seemed to confirm my feelings of being somewhat undesirable. On the other hand, on occasions during which I’ve been more authentic and expressed my feelings more openly, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how receptive most are.
My New Year’s Wish for 2013, then, is simple: do it NOW. Call your grandmother. Kiss your children. Tell your husband what you want from him. Take your mother to see Les Miserables and leave the boys at home. You won’t regret it.
Best wishes to you all in the new year.