My husband, Ben, and I got married and bought a house in the same month; last June. As the summer neared a close we decided to host a “meet our house” party. It was an exciting time for both of us—a new marriage and we were both first time home buyers. It was the cumulation of some long time hopes and dreams. It was also a big change and a time we wanted those we loved most to join in our joy. We were blending two families under one roof. Him and his daughter, his mother and his two young adult siblings who still live at home with myself and my two boys.
We planned the party on a bad weekend. I had forgotten an aunt and cousin had also planned a family get together for my dad’s side that same day. Even so I invited a few family memebers who weren’t going to be at the other function (thanks to my own parent’s divorce there are a variety of relationships). As well I invited a few friends. Ben and I intivted about the same number of people; around thirty total. And we had about thirty show up. Ben’s family and co-workers showed up and brought along a few guests (typical for Mexicans), but not a single person I invited showed up.
This has been an ongoing theme in my life the last couple of years. There are reasons. Life and space has separated me from many of those I was once close to. I no longer have a church family (a whole other topic). Politics, Trump and religious differences—I am too secular for my Christian friends and family, but too Christian for my secular ones. My relationship with my husband. I would be blind to not admit that racism is also playing a factor.
For someone who has always had a lot of friends, made them fairly easily, it has been strange. And at times it is very lonely. Occasionally you just need a friend. A significant other cannot be your constant companion, support, and comfort. Other allies are needed from time to time. I find my list of allies growing shorter and shorter and I wonder, what is wrong with me?
Social media makes it all so much worse. You see once friends having fun together and wonder why you weren’t invited. You see a family member was in town and wonder why they didn’t stop by. You post and you comment and it feels like you get nothing back. That your comments, pictures…they are all ignored. No one reads your blog; your latest, and possibly last attempt, at fulfilling your longtime dream of being a writer. And you feel ten times more lonely than you did before. With each aborted attempt to be liked on social media, to get attention, the pain deepens. It is a vicious cycle.
But even without the cutting sorrow social media offers, you reach out and reach out, you invite and invite and no one ever reaches back, no one ever shows up. When you are doing 90% of the effort in 90% of your relationships, when do you give up?
Lucky for me I do have a great husband who has a great and big family who have embraced me. Special occasions are full because of them. My children have cousins, aunts and uncles always around like I did as a child, because of them. My children will know the meaning of family tradition because of them.
I also have Christine. One long time friends who puts as much real life effort into our relationship as I do. A separation of 142 miles has made things more difficult for us, but not impossible and I thank God for her faithfulness.
With all this in mind I have made some plans. For 2019 I have deleted social media from my phone; although I can still access it via Chrome. I have decided to try real life… I have made friends this way before after all. Maybe a book club, writers’ group or game nights. Perhaps a Bible study—although I have given up on ever having a church family.
I have also decided to write for myself. To write not with the thought that any one will read it or will support me in it, but simply because I love it and feel compelled to do it. No one sees or cares that I workout most morning, I do it because I like the way it makes me feel. This is the role I want writing to play. I may take the time to “share” my stories, but I will not care if anyone reads them. They are for me.
My life is for me and for those around me. I will stop caring who is not beside me and focus on those who are. I will seek out others to join, but not via social media because despite its name, I have found it the antithesis of community. The antithesis of a social and happy life.