Friday, January 14, 2011


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.


Blogger Angela said...

Barbara, believe me, you are a wonderful, caring, lovable woman. Your friends are really your friends. I think it is common that we have no idea about how others see us. So let me tell you (and your daughter): Create a picture in your mind of the person you WANT to be, and then act like it. And guess what, this is probably the way others will see you, too. No self-doubts, no feelings of being inferior. Just be the person you want to be, and you`ll be cherished.

3:48 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

I hope you can, because were you to look in the mirror of self with non-judgmental eyes, you'd fine one terrific person! Just from reading here, I find you warm and caring and thoughtful. we all have our faults - likewise, we all have strengths. Yours shine :)

2:20 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

I've been thinking about this. Listeners sometimes assume that they are "only" listeners and they think it is because they are shy or lack the self-confidence to become one of the "talkers" of the group. But being a good listener is a one of the very best ways to contribute to a group or a friendship. People really do appreciate that. You are one of the ones who is for the most part listening and thinking instead of talking. That can be one of the most deeply rewarding ways to be a friend, provided you have enough self-confidence to realize that. Maybe you just figured that out! I'm sure that all of your good and true friends appreciate that you care enough to listen to them. You should be sure of that too!

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listening well and sharing well are both wonderful, intimacy-building traits in a friend!

I'm glad you've been taking in how many true friends you do have, and how much you're cared for.

Sending you early Valentine love!


11:52 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

You are *not* alone in that fear! I feel the same more often than not, even though I know it's silly for both of us. People really do care about us!

One of my friends, the girl from New York who came to your house when I talked about the schools in Africa, asks about you every time I see her, and she only met you once. You make a great impression.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Hello Friend (that is how Ennis Cosby used to greet everyone. It is because of his death that I am involved in getting my doctorate in the first place. But I digress...)

I say relax and enjoy. As you write, if someone no longer wants to be your friend there probably will not be much guess work to it and if they don't then I always figure it's their loss. You are fabulous and I am pleased that I can call you my friend.

And I love to talk...

7:39 PM  
Blogger e said...

I'm sorry you carried those feelings around for so long. I agree that you have good friends and deservedly so, too. All of the compliments you have been given here are true.

I hope they give you confidence and inspiration because you've given that to others, some of whom you may not have met in person.

11:40 PM  

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