“There’s some of me in you.”
~J. F., Blade Runner
Friends. Yeah. Looooaded subject for this chicky right here. So much so that i don’t talk about it. It is, perhaps, when i feel the most vulnerable. I had no friends growing up. Not really. I was rarely allowed to hang out with other kids after school, and hey, i wasn’t asked that often. There was a time in grades 7 and 8 when my mom was trying to appear more normal, so i actually had a few friends to sleep over, but that was about it, i think. We couldn’t usually have anyone over because our house was a pigsty. And the bigger my mother got, the worse the condition of the house.
With the exception of 3yrs in cities, the rest of my secondary schooling was done in small towns, where i was quickly branded weird. I was always either close to, or at the very bottom any social ladder. When i finally escaped the back and forth hell of school and home, i went to work in another town. There i was able to turn my attention to making friends. I wasn’t very good at it, but i made 2 very dear friends that accepted me and we bonded. I think it was partly because they were broken in some of the same ways. I lost one of them while trying to please my religious community. I’d give a lot for the opportunity to apologise to her and make amends. I’ve had a few best friends since then, but they’re all gone now. One i hated to leave behind but i had to – the only friendship i’ve ever walked away from, and it pains me to this day. Another one was based on a super-sick dynamic, and so when she got mad and stopped talking to me, i stopped kissing her ass the way i’d always done, so BOOM! friendship over. The last best friend i lost is a betrayal that still hurts – but i think i’m better off.
That last loss made me crawl way up inside myself and i haven’t been that close to anyone outside my husband since then. It’s been a tough job, this figuring out who i really am. I read in books and hear in love songs about the woman who’s a study in contradictions, and it seems so romantic. You ask my husband though… He’ll tell you that an ambiguously ambivalent woman will test a man’s mettle. It’s not romantic at all. My parents taught me on the one hand that we were better than everyone, and i was on this earth for a special purpose. But the purpose seemed to be as a receptacle for their anger and hate. Which creates complications for any future relationships.
I was told by more than one friend they were moving on because there was a certain level of connection they couldn’t get to with me. I was a closed door. They were right. There were others who dropped me because i was unreliable. I might show, i might not. Can’t fault them for that, either. Then there were those who got fed up with being the only one who initiated contact. Totally accurate. I’m terrible at keeping in touch.
I want human connection, but i’m terrified of being rejected. I have a long history with rejection. I don’t care for it and i’d prefer to avoid it if it’s all the same to you, thankyouverymuch. I’m a let’s-hang-out-thanks-now-piss-off kind of person, and who has time for that? It’s not fair. Besides, my last couple of attempts at making close friends were brutal. I was terrible at it. I’ve been stripping down to the real me under all the protective barriers and brokenness, but i’m still not ready for prime time. So the only people i hang out with are my husband, my kids, and my grandkids.
I don’t know if i’ll ever be a people person again. I mean, i love humans. I love y’all soooo much, but i’ve got a lot to learn about how to be a good friend. I’m gonna have to start with the family i made, though. Seriously, some of folks can be heinous. I’m not well enough or strong enough not to take it personally. I’m looking for rationality, normalcy, and above all, balance.
I’m truly fortunate to have my Little Crooked House and the man-thingy and my lovely young men and their families. I also have an online group of friends that has sustained and even saved me, many times. I know some scoff at such relationships (and some are pretty scoffable… scoff-worthy… whatever, scoff off), but they are an integral part of how far i’ve come. A group of friends i’ve had for over 10yrs, that accept me for exactly who i am and where i’m at, even if i don’t have a clue who or where that may be. They’ve been a safe place for me to talk about things, work things out, and try on new ideas. I parade them around and see if i like the fit. The friends i’ve found here have been both boon and balm for my horn of plenty-crazy. So, wherever i land on the social spectrum – i’m covered.
Love and Peace,
IMAGE: Luis Villa del Campo, Prague’s Toy Museum