The "Friendship Paranoia"... and how knitting keeps me sane
I am somebody that easily gets lonely. I consider myself lucky to be part of a big group of friends, from school, through university, and then as an adult. And even luckier that so many of my oldest, closest friends live near by in London. Since moving here 9 years ago I've been constantly busy having fun. However, when there are no plans in the diary, and when I'm having a quiet week or weekend, I often get "The Paranoia".
The Paranoia is that little voice in my head that comes out of hiding when I've text/called/messaged a friend and I don't get a reply. The Paranoia voice gets slightly louder when Whatsapp or Facebook kindly informs you that your friend has read your message and not replied. The Paranoia voice makes you wonder why this may be, and loudly shouts over your rational brain making you wonder what on earth you've done to offend/upset your friend, and then as time goes on (because usually your friend is busy/out of battery/asleep) The Paranoia voice convinces you that your friend now hates you, and it's game over for that relationship.
Obviously this sounds CRAZY - and my rational brain is constantly telling me this. I have a couple of friends who have similar paranoia, and we often counsel each other through such moments of madness, but it doesn't stop those moments popping up out of the blue. I thought I would grow out of The Paranoia, but if anything it has got worse as I've got older.
I put this down to the fact that I value my friendships so much, and that one of my biggest fears is losing those relationships and people from my life. And as more and more of my friends leave London for greener pastures with more affordable house prices; settle down and start to have families; or pack in life in the UK and flee the country to somewhere warmer with less drizzle, The Paranoia has some additional new ammunition - that my friends no longer need me, that I'm lagging behind in the Game of Life and have become surplus to requirements.
This, my rational brain knows, is nonsense. My rational brain is insanely happy for all my friends no matter what they're up to, and in the same way that my rational brain knows that the friend who hasn't replied to an invite for a drink is just busy, it also knows that I'm not going to be forgotten by my friends who have moved away or had a baby. I just wish my rational brain had a slightly louder voice at times.
And so... I knit.
I have found that sitting down on my super comfy sofa, often with a glass of nice red wine alongside me, and picking up my knitting needles or crochet hook is the best way to quieten The Paranoia. I put on a good box set (or the Kardashians... my personal rule is that crafting justifies watching whatever you fancy, including the trashiest of television shows, much to my husband's frustration) and I create something out of yarn. Most recently this has been baby blankets and crocheted toys for the beautiful tiny humans that my friends keep making - a huge positive of all my friends having babies is that it has given me a captive audience for home made goods.
Whilst I'm knitting I'm not thinking about anything, other than if I've dropped a stitch or what has just happened in Grey's Anatomy. It switches my mind off in the same way that I've recently found yoga or running does, and I'm no longer interested in checking my phone to see if I have a message. When I'm knitting (or crocheting) it shuts up The Paranoia.
And more often than not once I've finished knitting or I take a break, I find that my friend has text me back, and I'll be grabbing my keys to go to meet them in a sunny beer garden, be searching online for train tickets for a weekend get together, or be popping round for a cup of coffee and Aunty Gilly cuddles with a small human.
I love my friends. I hate The Paranoia. And knitting keeps me sane.
Image shows me on my super comfy sofa making crochet squares for the "Painted Roses Blanket", pattern by Sandra Paul. Pattern available at https://www.lovecrochet.com/painted-roses-blanket-crochet-pattern-by-sandra-paul