Last Friday I came to a good stopping point with what I was working on so I decided to call it a day. My dad had a late-day meeting and my mom was home from work so we had the chance to sit down, just the two of us, and chat for about an hour before my nephew was dropped off for the weekend.
My mom and I have always had a special bond. I wouldn’t say that I’m her favorite – parents don’t have favorites, right? – but we’ve always been pretty close. When I was younger, my dad would have evening meetings at the church and my brother would always be at Boy Scouts or some school rehearsal so it was pretty common to find my mom and I hanging out together. (This is probably why I like movies so much and why I’m more sensitive than your average straight man.)
We talked about our earliest memories: her, around 2 years old with her mom churning butter in the kichen and killing a snake that was going after and my uncle, and sheep in the front yard (her early years were spent on a ranch in Colorado); and me, cuddling up in a blanket my mom made for me when I was about 3 or so. I listened as she talked about how strict her mother was and how little privacy she had was relished, even during nursing school and after she moved into her own apartment. At that point, we began talking about relationships some. She told me something that I’d never heard before, that even though she enjoyed her freedom and had fun being by herself – given the control of her mom – she often felt as though no one liked her. It was interesting to learn because I’ve found that I feel that way a lot too.
I don’t think it’s a self-esteem issue because I am both conscious and proud of my gifts and talents and see their value, but particularly in college and since I often felt like an outsider even in my own circle of friends. With few exceptions, I didn’t feel as close with my friends as they did with each other. I felt as though I wasn’t worth – to them – spending time with. For example, on more than one occasion I invited friends over for a movie at my place on a Friday or Saturday night. The usual response was, “I’ve got too much work to do.” I took them at their word and, generally, spent the evening alone. However, the next morning at church as we related our weekends these same friends would share that they didn’t get any work done because their floormates or another friend invited them to a movie or something after we I had invited them. The other thing that seemed to happen a lot was when I would find out after the fact that a group of my friends got together and did something and never thought to invite me.
I may have mentioned it before sometime but whenever one of the group would travel abroad for a semester the rest of us would make them a journal filled with pictures and messages and reminders of home. Every year, without fail, we did this. Except one. When I left, I got a card. They said that it was a busy time of year and they couldn’t take the time to get to it. The thing is, though, they were all busy semesters.
I don’t want to throw myself a pity party or anything. There were a few people that took the time to be a real friend to me. One friend would always call me to come over for a movie and/or some serious UNO. Another would meet me for lunch once a week and we’d hang out after our fellowship group met and she had to stay and work. But, more often than not, I felt like I wasn’t good enough as a friend for them. And I don’t know why. I don’t think I did anything to offend anyone. I know I have a pretty sarcastic sense of humor but only one person ever mentioned it to me when I said something wrong and we worked it out easily. I don’t know what it was.
Now, there are a handful of people from college and from Semester at Sea that I still keep in touch with. Whenever any of us travel we send postcards and we keep up with birthdays. It’s funny how it’s the simple things that make you feel loved.