Thursday, November 29, 2012

On friendship

I believe God sent me angels to get me through the tough times in my life.  These are people who have given me hope, courage, support, etc when I most needed it.   Some of them are the same people over and over again, like family or those few friends that have been a part of me for so long, I don't even remember when they weren't.  Those would be: Paul, mom, dad, Pat, George, Brian, Jason, Lisa, Amy, Laura, Maria, Denice, Julie, Michelle Watwood.

But I have also delighted in new friendships.  As an adult, those types of relationships involved taking risks.  They required trust and courage.  I have never been afraid to put myself out there either, never in all these years of meeting new people and falling in love with people over and over again.  Never, until now.....

People who renew hope can also take it away.  I am not a complicated person when it comes to accepting and owning my failures.  When I screw up, it does not take me long to realize it.  I have been humbled time and time again.  Even when the stakes get very, very high, humility is something that has come fairly easily for me.  Trust has also been unguarded for me.  I assume people who chose to get close to me are always going to feel that way.  But this year, I learned that was not always so.  As 42 years have gone by, I have seen people come and go in my life.  In looking back, I suppose those constituencies have made sense for the times in my life.  When I was in my 20's, my group of friends consisted of other young married couples with no kids and lots of time to do things like play co-ed sports, ski, go out on Friday and Saturday nights, and stay well-groomed and up to date on current events and happenings (being in the know).  Then as my 30's set in, this business of having babies moved in.  It was much, much harder than I expected for a million reasons.  It seemed that the circles I ran around in developed in different directions in the childbearing years.  Those who started earlier tended to get closer, and those of us who had babies later fell into different groups.  Then there was the inevitable subdivision of those of us who worked and those of us who stayed home with our babies.  These years, more than any others, really shaped, shifted and filtered that fast-track group of 20 somethings who were so well informed and well manicured. While I still consider that group friends, I don't spend anywhere near the amount of time with them.

Even though I was a working mom, I never really fit that group; and I obviously had little opportunity to fit in with the moms who were at home.   Oh, how I longed to be home with my babies.  My marriage paid a hefty price for it.  My hubby and I had tons of resentment toward each other associated with it.  I'm sure he thought I was not even a fraction of the women he had just spend a third of his life with, and I couldn't stop resenting him for being the EXACT same guy I just spend a decade with.  Eventually, and at a huge cost, it all came together like it should.  I became a stay at home mom, and much to my surprise, my husband has been doing his very best to support and appreciate the benefits that far outweigh the costs of that.  It has been a tough road, and it still offers challenges, but I know we are were we are supposed to be.

However, as my friendships go, most of them have just ridden a parallel with my life, like a glassy lake at sunset that reflects every stitch of detail of the mirror image above it.  When I am supposed to have certain influences and people in my life, they are there.  People come and go for reasons.  But this year, I learned that I may not always know or even begin to understand those reasons.  My good friend Shelly, whom I really believed was a gift from God, decided to exit my life as a close friend.  Now we are mostly acquaintances.  And it's not ugly, we have nothing but good exchanges when we are around each other. ,But there is an underlying sense of loss there now, where it used to be such a great feeling of peace and joy.  I am not sure I will ever really understand it-maybe later in my life.  But for now, it is just a huge and incredibly painful disappointment, and feeling of failure.  One of those things that I get a bit of a tummy ache when I think too much on it.  Partly because of the rejection I feel from being swiftly escorted out of the life of someone I so loved, but also, and maybe more importantly, because my little boys also fell in love with them-and I let them.  I suppose learning that people will let you down and break your heart is a lesson in life that you are probably never too young to learn.  But why is it at 42, I am still so depleted by it?  You might think I would be more seasoned and hardened to it by now.  But no, it still hurts, it still confuses me and I still feel amazed that I have not figured out how to avoid this.

I have had a few other notably difficult failed friendships.  Cindy, my former neighbor.  Of course, in that case, it was so very clear-I completely betrayed her, lied to her and turned into a monster.  I think jealousy and pure hatred for the life I was leading drove that disaster, but at least there is no ambiguity surrounding that one.

My closest friends Debi and Kirsten from my 20's/early 30's and I have grown apart too.  As have Michelle Watwood and I; those friends are working mamas.  And try and we may, our worlds just don't line up like they used to.  I can accept that as a part of the choices we make that just boil down to who we are-and essentially doing the best we can with what we've got.

So, why then, have I lost a hop in my step?  Why do I just want to bury my head in the sand so often?  I don't know.  I worry that I am unloveable.  That I have just screwed up too many things in my life to be rewarded with such kindnesses and gifts as dear friends that cost nothing but love.  In a world obsessed with money and things, those few treasures as these, elude me.  And in the end, that is all I ever wanted.

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