The Changing Circle of Friendship

I unfollowed a few old friends last night on Facebook. I had known some of these people since I first moved to this area. I had laughed at their jokes, sat on their porches for chats…some of these people had been regular visitors to my home for years.

But something has changed inside of me these past few months. I found myself taking different routes as I ran my errands to avoid their houses.

I found myself deliberately cutting conversations short.

Then I found myself growing frustrated over their social media posts.

They talk about the same things all the time, I sighed to myself.

While I didn’t unfriend them entirely, I did stop their posts from appearing in my feed. I no longer cared about their most recent breakups or the battles they were waging with their neighbors across the street.

I was tired of watching them brag about their latest purchases one week, only to complain that their electric was shut off the next.

I was frustrated at their constant discussions of poverty. I’m poor too but instead of complaining, I hit the books even harder.

Facebook dinged at me as I finished my task. I glanced at the name and then closed out the page.

I wondered at that as I settled down to read. Was I becoming cold? Was I so driven to succeed that I was deliberately distancing myself from others?

The accusation had been leveled at me recently. I had forgotten how to have ‘fun,’ one friend complained.

I ended up spending a restless night as the puzzle turned in my brain. What was causing this change in behavior?

I’d noticed that I was becoming lonely. I’d noticed that I was sharing less of myself to others around me.

I’d even noticed a growing frustration as I found less and less to talk about with my friends. I found myself actively working to keep them talking to me so that I could avoid facing the fact that I no longer had anything to contribute.

The wee hours of the morning caused me to turn the question on its head:

Was there anyone in my life now that I associate with more?

To my surprise, the answer was yes.

I discuss the stock market and business issues with my neighbor, who happens to be a manager at the store next to mine.

I commiserate over the frustration of trying to juggle work and self-improvement with a friend who is attending college. Like me, she finds herself fighting for the right to improve her life with friends who want her to hang out with them instead.

I find myself cherishing the nights when I get to work with a friend who became a CNA, got a better paying job, and dropped down to working only one night a week at the store.

She plans to aim for a nursing degree now.

I realized that I have more in common with the kid who recently graduated BASIC after joining the Army Reserves, and I look forward to seeing one friend stop in the store after work. She managed to escape her job in fast food to become a preschool instructor.

I’ve even noticed the revival of a friendship that started back in the fourth grade. We chat more now than we have in years.

I recalled reading once that we are a reflection of the five people we spend the most time with. I didn’t think much about it at the time I first encountered the theory; I’d been a frustrated single mother just trying to make ends meet back then so I’d dismissed the notion as nonsense.

Over a decade later I’ve finally realized that there is truth in those words.

As You Change, So Do Your Friends

It is completely normal to change over time, especially if we embark upon a plan of self-improvement. We instinctively gravitate towards others who, just like us, want to change their lives.

This epiphany helped me to realize that I’m not becoming snobbish or jaded.

I’m not spending too much time focusing on my work.

I’m just changing, and with that change I now have less in common with the people from my past.

It is a sign that I am making progress.

Have you noticed your friends changing over time? How does that make you feel? Please share your stories in the comments below.




It is Time to Press Pause

I’ve suffered from a bit of an existential crisis these past few days. My beloved daughter informed me that she plans to officially marry in November.

By some time in December she should be gone.

It’s all hitting me. This stage of my life is officially over.

I started blogging as a form of cheap therapy. I needed to get my thoughts out of my head so that I could focus on my goal of being the best single mother I could be.

In hindsight, I believe that I focused on minimalism and frugality because, in a life that seemed so out of control, money and possessions were the two things that I could control. As one of my friends pointed out so many years ago, I tend to slip into “survival mode” when facing emotional issues.

In other words, when faced with something I cannot control, I shift my focus to shaving as much off of my budget as I can instead of dealing with what is truly bugging me.

And I’ve become quite good at that. As I announced in an earlier post, I doubt that there is anyone blogging online who lives quite as cheaply as I do.

That said, I’ve reached a critical juncture in my life. My youngest daughter, my sole reason for fighting the fight for almost 20 years, is leaving.

If I am not very, very careful, instead of dealing with this head-on I will bury my pain deep inside and obsessively focus upon my finances.

I can already see the signs. When I start seriously conserving money by washing my clothes in a bathtub despite the fact that I can afford a laundromat and debating the financial implications of a purchase, I know that I’ve slipped into survival mode. I can preach different reasons all I want but I know myself, and I have finally realized exactly what I am doing and why.

I am trying desperately to avoid the pain of loss that is eating me up inside.

It is high time I stopped doing that. While saving money is a good thing, my continuing obsession with money is unhealthy.

While I still want to achieve financial freedom, I have decided that I need to shift my focus inward for a time. I need to face the fact of my changing circumstances. For once in my life I need to face my pain instead of burying it deep.

I need to press pause, step back, and seriously evaluate my life.

I have not made this decision lightly. Behind the scenes of this website I have been madly writing about my finances. I even penned some painful posts about things that have happened in the past, posts that really need to stay buried, at least while some of the people involved still live.

I’ve written so much these past few days that despite increasing my posting schedule to a daily format I had things scheduled into next year as I’ve tried to come to grips with what is happening to me. Upon a critical review of my words late last night I saw myself for what I am: a woman in the midst of a major life change.

Some of the ravings didn’t even make sense as I flip-flopped between obsessively focusing on my finances and ranting against the cold, hard reality of what I am facing.

This stops now.

I pulled every single one of those posts. In fact, I’ve pulled every single post that I had scheduled from this day forward as an added precaution. I intend to review them over the next few weeks. I want to sift the good and helpful from the drivel and craft them into something that may benefit you before I give them to the world.

It is time for me to sit back, take a deep breath, and figure out exactly what I want to do next. I know I need to grow up. I know I need to own the fact that I am changing. I need to accept the reality of what I have become, decide who I want to be, and start making positive steps in that direction.

I will return in a few days, I promise. I simply need to work out a basic idea of where I want to go next without advertising the worst of my internal crisis to the world at large. You don’t need to witness that.

That said, my focus on extreme frugality is over. I have traveled as far as I can safely go down this path.

I’ll write more later.