A colleague of mine once related a story of her 7-year old daughter, who came home from school complaining that no one had given her a valentine. As my friend worried about her child, she happened to see a bag sticking out from under her bed. On closer inspection, she found it to be filled with valentines.
Sometimes I think I am like that little girl when I start feeling lonely and worry about how many real friends I have. This has been a life-long problem. In any group of more than two people, I am always sure the others are closer than I will ever be with any of them. I’m just now starting to see that this is mostly my perception and not reality at all.
In truth I can only remember two people in my entire lifetime ending their friendship with me. In both cases, they were obvious about it; it wasn’t my imagination. That actually seems to be a pretty good track record for 62 years.
In talking to my daughter today, I mentioned this and was surprised to hear her say she had experienced some of those same feelings. We talked about it rationally and realized that in fact we are often much better listeners than talkers in a group setting. We acknowledged the need for both.
Just now as I feel stirred by so many connections with people I love and people I like, I realize the delusion under which I have been living most of my life. Perhaps armed with that realization, I can face my remaining years with a new confidence.