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How Facebook nearly ruined a great friendship...

...A Brief Glimpse Into the Crazed Mind of My Inner Five Year Old...

What a crazy roller coaster ride of angst I was on this weekend...and it all started with an innocuous comment about Facebook...

I was reading Valerie's weekly congregational newsletter the other day and she talked about connections, and how a girl she'd gone to school with had found her on Facebook, and - wait, WHAT?! I did a mental double take - Valerie is on Facebook?? I thought: "who are you and what have you done with the person who told me she doesn't like written conversation, who rarely answers social emails, let alone can possibly have any interest in a Facebook account??"

I emailed her right off and told her my inner five year old was sulking in the corner thinking "hmph, apparently I'm not good enough to be your Facebook friend". (I also said it's ok to laugh at that, I was.) Because I thought my crankiness was simply due to being tired from an overnight staff retreat (where we ran amok till the wee hours), and I was fully expecting to find myself in a better frame of mind the next morning.

Alas, the next morning did not find me in a better frame of mind. Funny how the stupidest little things can sow seeds of discontent. My inner child was still pouting and feeling left out.

Valerie answered my email, saying oh don't feel bad, she only just started on Facebook and had just 9 friends so far. I did another mental double take - wait, what? NINE friends?! Isn't it the normal thing when starting a new venture to include your best friends first? She has nine friends already invited into her new Facebook world and I am not one of them? So I'm one best friend in a crowd of...ten or more?? This is literally inconceivable to me - a person of few, but intense, close friendships - how anyone could spread themselves out over so many other close friends and still have room for me in any meaningful way.

All I could do was to promise I would try to get my head and heart around this bizarre possibility, although was not sure I'd have any success. I wrapped myself in my prayer shawl and prayed for some peace and comfort in the midst of this friendship turmoil.

She responded that whether I can get my head around it or not, she does consider me one of her close friends, and that even though there may be times I wish she would just leave, she's not going anywhere.

This was somewhat consoling but I remained unsettled because it still felt like we were on different friendship wavelengths. The fact that I had a rare migraine didn't help either. I was tempted to take the easy road and just edge away quietly to build a wall around my bruised heart, but I thought she at least deserved to know how I was feeling. After all, she didn't intentionally do anything to hurt me; what hurt me was unexpectedly discovering that we didn't have the same vision of friendship. Of course, in hindsight, given how (maddeningly!) perceptive Valerie can be, I wouldn't have been able to pretend nothing was wrong and get away with it anyway...she never buys my "no really, I'm fine" line. (I think I am completely transparent to her. She, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery to me...this contrast can be more than a little unnerving!)

I tried to sleep on her words and hope to see things in a new light in the morning. Alas, I awoke feeling still disconnected. So I emailed her saying that I had no doubt she considers me one of her close friends...the problem is that I didn't think she and I mean the same thing by "close friend". I felt so sad to have misjudged the strength of our connection, and also felt betrayed by my inner radar for not having alerted me sooner. I explained that being one of a crowd doesn't feel close to me, or special, or resemble the connection I feel when I say "you are one of my best friends". And that I needed to think about how I feel about being one of ten+ close friends. That's just not a place I want to be...to me, being in a crowd is a place of surface social chat, not a place where I open my heart and share deeper conversation. I told her that I honestly didn't know how open I could leave my heart in such a place.

I headed off to work...before too long, the phone rang. I glanced over and saw the number for the church. Oh no, I did not want to talk about this until I had more time to settle myself and find a way to be ok with this new, and to me lesser, level of friendship. I answered anyway because I always like to talk to her, even if I didn't want this particular conversation at this particular time. But she didn't say much, just asked if I wanted to have lunch with her and I said yes. A couple minutes later, I had second thoughts (because I knew she was going to make me talk about this!) so called her back and said not to bother, she must have far more important things to do than drive all the way into the city where I work (the church is out in the 'burbs) just to have lunch with me, blah, blah. She said, in a "resistance is futile, I have made up my mind" voice: "that has nothing to do with it, I am coming to have lunch with you...I relented, knowing it was useless to argue further, she wasn't going to budge on this one.

My sister Lynn emailed to see if I wanted to go for a walk at lunchtime. I explained that I couldn't because I'd made poor Valerie think she had to come and have lunch with me by having a junior high hissy fit at her over Facebook. I felt terrible for making such a big deal out of this trivial thing. Lynn said oh, Valerie will understand, and besides we all have angst filled moments with our good friends. Don't waste any energy worrying about it, just enjoy your lunch (good advice!)

At first I apologized to Valerie, saying sorry, some things should just stay in my head...she replied emphatically "NO, they shouldn't, one of the things I really like about you is that you do say what's in your head". And I am relieved and glad now that I did share my feelings. Turns out we are on the same friendship wavelength after all...when she says "one of my best friends", she means one of two or three, and not one of ten. (And she didn't add nine close friends in Facebook right off the bat, she just started an account in the summer to keep in touch with her daughter while she was away and then random people found and added her.)

I really did enjoy lunch (food and company both!) We ate at Pizzaria a Mano, a fairly new "authentic" Italian restaurant near the Halifax waterfront. We split a Rucola salad (arugula salad with tomatoes, papaya, avocado, almonds and lime vinaigrette), and a Tartufata pizza (wild mushrooms, roasted onions, buffalo mozzarella, bechamel and truffle oil). Tasty, tasty...oh yes it was!! And only $30 for the two of us, including soft drinks. Quite a reasonable price for a yummy lunch in the Halifax waterfront area.

So out of ashes of a hissy fit rises a new and stronger friendship! I just know the Spirit was involved in this somehow - if nothing else, to help me find the courage to keep expressing myself, even though I felt horribly exposed sharing such deeply private doubts, and especially since it took three attempts to get through to her what it was that was bothering me. It's very scary baring your heart in the midst of uncertainty, especially when it is about some tiny little prick of doubt that just won't go away. (I half suspect it would have been easier to keep expressing my thoughts if this had been about some major bone of contention, but maybe not. Hopefully I'll never have the chance to test that theory!) I know it all seems a tad silly in retrospect, but it's always best to clear the air, even when the storm is just a little dust devil.

PS - yes, Valerie has now added me to her Facebook friends...to which I commented "well...it's about time!" :)

PPS - I guess since I'm talking about Facebook, I should include at least one face...someday, I'll get a shot of the two of us together, but here is a lovely photo of Valerie in the meantime:

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Comments (9)

Anne, I am sorry you had to go through all of that. I am also glad that it all got straightened out. I still don't get Facebook at all. I guess it is better that I don't with all the problems it can cause.

Oh by the way...10 more days!! Woo hoo!!!!!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Anne, it's wonderful to see Valerie after reading about her from your posts. She sounds like a really dear friend.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Anne:

girasoli, the weird thing is that I don't even use Facebook much myself, except to keep track of 4 half-siblings I have in England, and a couple friends I don't see in person often. So why my brain went off in a snit over not being facebook friends, I can't say!

You're probably wise to stay off Facebook! Another friend of mine has had some facebook angst herself...I'm hoping she's ok now though...

Kathy, yes she is - I love that woman!

I've never been on Facebook but I can definitely relate to the crazed voice of an Inner Five-Year-Old (I have one too and she gets very insecure at times!).

Lovely photo of Rev. Val. She's my vicarious pastor since I'd definitely come to her church if I lived up that way!

And....9 days! How exciting! Are you going to blog while you are there?

Lynn:

Bravo! I thought it was a both a poignant and funny chronicling of the insecurity-driven angst we all feel from time to time when our "inner 5 year old" escapes the strictures of our rationale adult brains. Has happened to me many times in the past and is sure to happen many more times in the future! How fortunate that Valerie is so perceptive and knew just how to handle the situation. (Well, maybe not on your first try, but she caught on very quickly subsequently.) Not all friends are as on-the-ball as she is. Oh, and let me add, it is beautifully written, as always. See you tomorrow.

Anne:

Annie - it would be awesome for you to come to church with me. If you ever get up to NS on vacation, hopefully you can fit a church service in! Yes, I definitely plan to blog while away, at least from Florence. There's an internet train on Borgo San Jacobo very near "my" apartment so I imagine I'll be stopping in there quite often.

Lynn, thanks again for the excellent big sisterly advice!

Chiocciola:

Oh happy ending to a sad story!

Anne:

Chiocciola - I love happy endings!! So glad we sorted out that we are on the same wavelength after all. :)

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