I’m not a very good friend.
When I was three my mother died and I was sent to live with my grandparents in another town, far away from my dad. I lived there for two years until my dad re-married. When I lived there, I had cousins who lived in the same town so they were my playmates. After I moved back to live with my parents, I don’t remember having any friends – but I got a puppy, a beagle, and he became my best friend.
When I was in first grade we moved to a very small town. So small, that even as a first-grader I was allowed to walk all the way across town to school. That is where I first recognized the creature called ‘boy’. Only because I could run faster than any of them at recess. I have always been tall for my age. Of course, that was the end of any physical prowess I was to have ever again. I’m sure I’ve mentioned I’m a klutz…
When I was at the end of second grade, we moved to a bigger town – a college town. This turned out to be my favorite town. It was still small enough I could go across town to band lessons and swimming lessons and tennis lessons, but large enough I never explored the whole town. I had a girl next door who was in my class at school and another one three doors down. We became an odd mix of friendship – never really friends as a three-some, but an ever changing two-some. One of us was always on the ‘outs’ with at least one of the others. This made for a wild brew of on-again-off-again relationship angst.
When I was at the end of fifth grade, we moved back to the big city. I hated it. I hated them. They hated me. Finally my mother found a girl who went to the same church as we did (if we went, which we didn’t, but it was the church my parents were married in). I started riding with her to the youth meetings on Wednesday nights. We didn’t have much to do with each other at first, she just tolerated me. Gradually we became friends. Throughout junior high and high school, she and a good friend of hers became my best friends. Unfortunately, my parents were so strange that we didn’t have a normal friendship – based more in school than out. Outside of school I was still as much a loner as ever.
As an adult I’ve only had a handful of friends. Mostly co-workers who became friends. A funny thing about that, though… once you quit working together a lot of the things you had in common revolve around the job and sometimes the other things in your life don’t make a good basis for friendship. When I worked at a university I became friends with two co-workers. We actually did things together outside of work and I felt we were bonding. We were close for five years before I had a nervous breakdown and tried to explain to them what had happened to me. It was the beginning of the end. One of them openly encouraged my husband to leave me, and another one was just in disbelief.
The one who encouraged my husband to leave has since moved out of state. She and the other woman stay in touch. Me? I’m in avoidance. I avoid both of them. The one in Arizona sends a Christmas card and pretends nothing happened, the other one I’m not clear on what relationship we really have anymore.
The woman who I consider my non-family best friend right now is someone I admire. A lot. She’s been through many things in her life – mainly health problems, but family troubles too. I admire her because she’ll tell you like it is. She doesn’t mince words. She’s funny and caring and comes from a farm background, so she ‘gets’ that part of my life. As close as we’ve become over the years, though, I can’t tell her about my past. I can’t bring her to the brink of darkness with me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m afraid of losing her friendship as I lost the others? I haven’t told her about my blog, either. As close as we are, I’m not sure I can let someone in that hasn’t already been inside of me… hmmm…that just sounded weird. I mean, I don’t mind sharing with my kids, as they’ve been there for it all… and what went on before them, I’m sure they’d understand and maybe even figure out “OH! So that’s why she’s like she is”… and, I’ve been as much inside some of your heads (as you will let me) to know there are people out there that aren’t so very different from me. This in its own way is a very comforting thought. Especially because those people seem to be doing okay and I can see each day how far I’ve come from the abyss.
There was an old skit that was on TV – I don’t remember if it was on SNL or some other program, where Patty Duke’s late husband, John Astin (he played Morticia’s husband on the original Adams’ Family TV show), was playing a role of a crazy person. He was good at it, with his wild rolling eyes. He was going on and on about all the things he’d done, then he’d stop and say, “But I’m MUCH better now!” That became a catch-phrase in our family. We’d do something nuts and say, “But I’m MUCH better now!” and laugh. It feels good to be able to laugh.
The very best friend I have in the whole world is my husband, followed closely, right or wrong, by my kids. They are the ones who know everything about me and love me anyway. I’m very blessed to be able to say that. I know you’re supposed to be the parent, not the friend… but I’d like to think I’ve been able to do both… and no matter what, my husband is always on my side.
Will I have other non-family friends? Let’s just put it this way, I’m starting to get very warm and fuzzy feelings for many of you out there in blogland. Welcome. Tell your friends to come on over for a drink – we’ll get comfy and tell stories. I think I’m ready to expand my circle of friends.