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Friends, or lack thereof

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I don’t have a lot of friends. Actually, I have no local friends. I thought I did–sort of–but evidently I don’t. I have lots of email friends, and I make friends easily when I camp or take other trips. I’m open, gregarious, chatty. I find so many people when I am away from home to make friends with, and I wonder why no one like that lives near me.

I was friends with a woman, we’ll call her Isadora, a long time ago. We had a lot in common; we love animals, we love to read, we are not crazy about southerners and we are not fans of religion. I noticed that Isadora often contradicted herself, saying one thing one day and the opposite a few days later. This baffled me for a long time–like about 10 years. Then the penny finally dropped, it became glaringly obvious that Isadora was a compulsive liar. And about things that didn’t matter in the least, things there was no reason to  lie about. I spent about 5 years doing a very slow burn about being constantly lied to, and then it just got to be too much and I overreacted a bit and called a halt to the entire friendship. Over the next 6 or 7 years, I did some research on people who lie–even happened to catch an NPR show on the topic–and it turns out that these people are not always aware they are doing it. Somehow their brains just filter and alter the reality that enters, and what comes out of them may not be the truth, but it is their truth. They are genuinely not aware that they are changing reality to suit them. I think Isadora did this to enhance her image, to put herself in a better light for those around her.

Over those 6 or 7 years, I missed Isadora. And then one day we ran into each other at a grocery store, and it was as if those years had never passed, we picked up right where we left off. I thought that it would be different–this time I was going (back) into the friendship well aware that nothing she said could be counted on to be true. And that worked for a while. Isadora has a few other issues. She is borderline agoraphobic….but in an odd way. She works 3 days a week, and has no problem going to work. If what she says about it is true, she goes to the grocery store every day. She likes to go to a store called Tractor Supply and seems to go there nearly every day as well, or at least she was always saying she had to go there. But she otherwise doesn’t seem to want to leave her house. She is literally never gone overnight, and, Cinderella-like, always had to be home by 3:30 or so in the afternoon. In one singular moment of what I believe was truth, she indicated that she had to be home because if she wasn’t, something bad might happen. Something she could prevent by being home. She has many pets, inside and out. She has a husband who works as a handyman periodically. Apparently his being home is not good enough to prevent the bad thing from happening, she had to be there herself, which is of course a control issue.

So, my one local friend lies about everything and is afraid to spend time away from home except for work and grocery- and hardware-shopping.

She called me late last spring, after another lengthy time of no contact. I maintain assorted websites and the primary one had been neglected and so there were no updates. She called to find out if I was ok, since it was odd for there to be no updating. I responded, telling her that while that website had been neglected, one of the other ones had been quite active and updated regularly. She called me and told me that she had been checking all of them, of course. This was clearly not the case, because if she had been, she would have discovered that I had been quite busy with camping trips and other activities, and would not have had to call to ask if I were ok. I let it go, since by now I am used to being lied to. In the course of the conversation, I told her about our plans to retire to the mountains. Before we hung up, she said she would call me the next day.

I never heard from her again. Did she visit those other sites and did it strike her that she had told me she was reading them regularly…..but if she had been, she would have known what I was doing? Is it shocking for a person who does not realize she lies about everything to be confronted with the clear fact that she lied? Or was this something else? Isadora has wanted to move from this area since I met her, and for decades had discussed her definite plans to move out west. Since that is never going to happen (they live nearly at the poverty level so such a move is not feasible, at least at this time), was she upset that we had these plans, and the means to follow through with them?

Lately I have been in one of my modes of wishing I had a local friend. This is an impossibility. First, religion has this area by the throat and the people here are not capable of carrying on any conversation without repeatedly invoking the lord, which drives me crazy. The people here also do not do anything. There are no clubs to join to meet anyone who might not be a religious fanatic–no book clubs, no bike clubs, no walking clubs, no knitting clubs. No point in trying to start such a thing, since only church-sponsored activities are acceptable to the locals. I thought to check the adult education courses at the local community college, but the only offerings are yoga (no thanks) and possibly guitar lessons. So that’s out.

I did have another friend for a long time, a wonderful woman a few years younger than me. We went on 5-mile walks around town together and traveled to far-off places together. I recently also ran into her. She does nothing now and is not interested in walking or traveling as we used to. I asked about going for bike rides on the nearby bike path. No….her ex-husband made her go on a long bike ride 18 years ago and she has never wanted to ride a bike since (the words get and over and it came to mind). While she is not fanatical about her religion and is a funny, enjoyable person, I need someone who wants to actually do something.

So that leaves Isadora. Since I am so desperate for social interaction right now, I would welcome some chat time with her, lying and all. I sent her an email a couple of days ago, under the guise of telling her about a website she might be interested in, and I added that I hoped she and her family were all staying cool. I got no response, which was a surprise, she’s the type of person who always responds. Now I am left not knowing whether she is simply not going on the computer (she never was interested in computers and so she only goes online from work when she is bored), or if she is ill or otherwise indisposed, or if she got it and just isn’t interested in continuing a friendship with someone who is moving away in a few years. I’m not sure what I will do about this, if anything. I could call her next week, when I know she will be home and not at work. Or I could just let it go, since reconnecting will not lead to anything of substance. I really just want to talk to someone; it will pass, particularly as camping season rolls back around and I start finding a social outlet there.

I feel certain that there are other people like me in this county–people who are not fanatically religious, people who get out and do things. I suspect that, like me, they stay well under the radar and don’t mingle with the locals. So how can I find them? Or maybe I should just resign myself to being friendless while living here.

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