I've always considered myself extremely fortunate when it comes to friends. When I was younger one of the ways I convinced myself it was alright not to be part of the larger, popular cliques was to remind myself that, because of my small chin and not looking like everyone else, I actually had friends who liked me because of who I was, not because I looked pretty or everyone else liked me or whatever. Not that I think that's the only reason the popular kids were friends with each other, but when you have the crappy self esteem I had, you have to find some way to feel better about yourself.
So I never really had huge groups of friends, but I have always had very close friendships, quite a few of which have lasted over the years. I suck at communicating with people, but by some miracle I have a handful of people who know this about me and forgive me for it, and when I finally do get around to calling, time seems not to have passed at all. I don't know what I'd do without these people. Like, when I think about how life-saving some of these people have been, it makes me tremble inside. I'm not even sure most of them know that... I should probably tell them someday.
But the thing about me is that all those years of trying to figure out how to like myself when I felt like so many people *didn't* like me has left me with some wacky defense mechanisms that have negatively impacted a few of my friendships. Because I think *every single one* of my best friends is AMAZING, I sometimes say things candidly that I don't realize are going to hurt someone. For me, it's a straight up question, or it's something I really want to know how they feel about. For that person, it's a judgment or a criticism. With some people, I can tell I've hurt their feelings and I try hard to never do it again.
What hurts the most is that I have lost a few friendships in my life because I said or did something that I had no idea was hurtful until the person stored up years of being annoyed with me until the dam burst open and I was "dumped." Thankfully this has only happened a couple of times, but even a couple of times is enough to really make you question your worth as a friend. You start to wonder if one or two people feel this way about you, does that mean everyone else does too but the dam's just not full-to-bursting yet?
I don't think it does mean that... I think for the most part the people I would put on my list of friends are honest with me and love me for who I am. I also know that in some cases of my friendships ending it hasn't been because of my crazy personality, and I am self-aware enough to not blame myself entirely, but still.... The past week has been weird for me, because I find myself analyzing every relationship I have and wondering if the other person involved feels the same as I do. I want to know what people really think of me, but then when I'm told something that I didn't really want to hear, I don't want to ask anymore...
It's a weird thing to know, that there are people who see you in a completely different light than you see yourself. It's a hard line to walk, between being honest with people and being true to yourself, but recognizing that other people might not perceive your actions or your words the way you intend to be perceived. I really don't know what to do about it right now, or if there's even anything I *need* to do about it.
When it comes down to it, though, is it ever a bad thing to have a good reason to give yourself a little check up and make sure you are really being the person you intend to be?
I guess I'll just consider this my 31-year tune up. ;)