All my life–at least as long as I can remember having specific feelings about it–I have struggled to believe that people actually wanted me around.
I was sort of the outcast at school. There was a boy in my class in elementary school who was from a family that didn’t have much money, and . . . well, at least from my perspective, they weren’t particularly intelligent. And I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean literally, every member of that family had barely average or slightly below average intelligence. There was such a distinct ladder of cool-to-uncool in my class that I could probably have made a full list, with no more than two or three people on each rung. He was at the bottom of it.
I was the next rung up.
I hated being associated with him. That’s to my shame, I suppose. To my credit (I suppose) I also hated when they made fun of him. I hated hearing anyone made fun of or seeing anyone embarrassed. I empathized so deeply with them each.
That memory from elementary school typified my growing-up years. Later in elementary school (after we moved and changed school districts) I had two friends. One of them stopped being my friend later that year. The other one ditched me and started making fun of me in middle school. When I tried to spend time with her, she would say, “Why are you here? You’re so annoying! Stop following me!”
I avoided an extra-curricular activity that I really wanted to do because she was in it and I didn’t want her to think that I was following her.
Two years later, I finally decided I didn’t care what she thought and joined the activity anyway. It was an activity that spanned middle and high school. I continued through graduation and went back to visit while I was in college. She and a couple of her friends basically quit without even telling anyone they were quitting when we got to high school.
The same year I joined the group anyway (the year before, I had a sister doing it and was visiting while while for her after school, so what was the difference between that and actually joining?) I also got up the courage to ask her why she had ditched me two years earlier. (In writing, mind you. I wouldn’t have possibly said this out loud.) She replied, “I wanted to be cool and didn’t think that it would happen if I was friends with you. Not that it mattered, because I never became one of the cool kids anyway.”
I always thought that the kids made fun of me, but looking back, I don’t know how often they were making fun of me, and how often they were trying to include me in their general teasing of each other. I’m sure if I had responded better, something would have been different.
I also know that my oldest sister protected me a lot. I had several things happen with kids making fun of me, but almost never anything physical. The most physical thing was when a student took my Bible (which I always carried around school with me and read when I had a chance to) and threw it away while I was in the bathroom. I found it in the trash can on the way out the door. And I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen because it was a Bible, but because they didn’t like me in general.
But in high school, I didn’t know that seniors hazed freshman until I was a senior. One of my sisters, who was a senior, and her friends protected me and a few other freshman. That was a time when I really felt loved. When I realized that, three years earlier, I had been protected.
To this day, I struggle to believe that people want me around. It doesn’t help that, after a few years of thinking that I just might have broken through all of that, I was in a new place trying to make new friends. Long story short, someone who I thought I was really becoming friends with started seeming like she was avoiding me. I know I tend to think people just don’t want to be around me when they sometimes have other reasons, so I really wanted to talk to her and see if there was anything wrong or what. But she didn’t have time to talk. And didn’t have time to talk. Until her husband told my husband (they’re good friends) that she felt like I was draining her and putting too many demands on her time, and she wanted to be there to help me if I needed it but wasn’t looking for a friend.
Yup. Ouch. She and I are still friendly, but we don’t do much together anymore.
So . . . I don’t really know exactly why I’m writing this today. My goal is to learn something new with each of these blog posts, but I’m not really learning much new with this. It’s just something that’s been bothering me a lot lately as I’ve gotten the feeling that other friends also don’t want to be around me. And my husband and I have talked lately about my fear of becoming annoying to him because I am to so many other people.
So, I guess this post is less about learning and more about organizing my thoughts. So thanks for letting me use you all as a sounding board.
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