The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves

For a very long time I've been living in a sort of limbo. Friend limbo. I have a few acquaintances at work, some of which I've known for years, some I might consider good friends. However, when it comes time for the weekend I'm not the person they think of having over. I'll get invited to the big get-togethers, the ones where everyone is invited. It's the little "hey let's have dinner" or "come over and we'll watch [insert movie]" invitations that are missing. In some part I'm sure it's because I'm at the other end of the city, I have five kids, our interests/tastes don't always align, I'm sort of offish. I can't blame anyone really.

But there's a bigger problem fundamentally. When I was a kid and friends and family were in the house men would end up in the living room or on the porch and women in the kitchen. Almost 99% of the time I stayed in the kitchen or lingered just at the outskirts of the group of men. What women talked about always seemed more interesting, feelings, struggles, family, friends. Men talked about the game, about shenanigans they pulled, fights, drunkenness, and conquests.

So I grew up introspective, nurturing, feeling, private, quiet, bookish, nerdy. As much as I daydreamed about becoming a hero or a mans man, as much as I chased girls and had my own conquests of a sort, I always prided myself on being a gentleman. I always prided myself on being romantic, caring, and kind and that when a romantic relationship came to an end attempting to be the best friend I possibly could be.

So when I had my choice of people to hang out with it was always women. There were occasional random male friends, but by and large my friends were female. With them I was allowed to be myself. I was allowed to express my feelings openly and be acknowledged. I had the opportunity to explore my romantic side, poetry, art, literature, while most of my male friends wanted to jump ramps, play ninja, shoot squirrels, etc.,. Not to say I was completely against those activities, but it was a rarity.

When I was 16 I fell in with a group of guy friends that had a similar creative bent that I did. We played D&D, drew, went to cons, watched anime. When I wasn't with them I was with my girlfriend and her friends. As I moved so did some of those core guys. We kept in touch, but I went back to hanging with my female friends. It was a comfortable pattern for me. If I wasn't with Kari, I was with Katie and if not with Katie with Tracy or Michelle, or Shelly or the other Shelly, LeahAnne, Tasha, Minda, Tonya, Stephanie, Denise, Tammy, Trisha, you name it. I had dozens of female friends throughout high school, but only a small handful of male friends. It's who I was. It's who I am.

That's the challenge lately. It is who I am. I lost that person.

When I met my wife I was dating a girl. Hanging out with her and my friend Michelle a lot. I was with Jessie and Shane the rest of the time. Gradually more of my time went into Kat and let into the other girls and friends. Eventually almost all of my time was spent with my wife and a small percentage with my male friends. Other women went away and even time with male friends became contentious. Things never quite balanced out. While I occasionally got to see Denise or another friend it was far and few between and not without significant repercussions. Spending time with Jessie and Shane and the gang caused similar ripples. Things never quite balanced out.

Then we moved and I left all those friends, male and female behind.

Here in St. Louis we rebuilt our lives as a couple. My friends remained mostly those people I worked with. Still I gravitated toward female friends and just one male friend. Kannette and Julie became my constant companions for lunch discussions. Stewart filled in here and there for comic book geekery and religious discussion. Eventually my family began attending the same church and Kat made fast friends with a few of the church members, namely the pastors wife. I kept mostly to myself. I had conversations with Stewart and probably sometimes with his wife and then also regularly with one of the other wives Connie. I tried to insert myself into bible studies with the men and that worked for awhile until we all realized that I didn't quite fit in for too many reasons. Eventually it all just broke down and I was back to being alone with my wife.

Oh I could fall back on some online conversations with friends who sporadically appeared, but without proximity and regularity those conversations weren't cohesive. They tended to be catchup conversations versus anything relevant.

But things were increasingly insular. Visits back to Oklahoma resulted in admonishes from my wife about how I should catch up with Jessie and Shane, both of which I had long lost contact with. Discussions of meeting with Denise usually led to frustration and fighting.

I've been alone for the most part for 13 years. I can count on some companionship at work, the very occasional happy hour, some chat online with AJ who's in Washington, but day to day I'm beholden to my wife for companionship. Which is hard. She's started to build a group of friends centered around Girl Scouts. She has periodic girl nights, phone and text conversations. They swap stories and pictures while I sit envious.

I can count on Rob at work or AJ to listen to my ever increasing whining. But it's just not enough. I've been living this lie for so long. Fooling myself that I'm a loner, that I can be happy if I just stick to it, but this solitude, this lack of anyone significant to identify with, to share those things that my wife doesn't care to hear or has no interest in, I miss that camaraderie. I miss the person I was. The worst lie I've been telling myself is that I'll get through this. That I'll change, is the other lie. Can I change. Can I find this illusive group of male companions that likes foreign romance films and poetry and Shakespeare? Or can I change and like sports more, watch UFC, drink beer? Fundamentally I'm just fooling myself I guess.

I just don't want to lie to myself anymore. I want to be who I am, not some shadow of a person. Not someone who continues to sit and wait as if something is going to magically change.