What It Is Wednesday: Friends? Friends!
I have never at any one point in my life had more close friends I can count on than at this moment. That realization both surprises me and makes me smile. It’s unexpected. It’s beautiful. There’s a part me that feels I’m alone because none of them are romantic partners, but I’m really not alone at all. I’m extremely well-supported by people who cherish me.
Let me say that again: I’m extremely well-supported by people who cherish me. I will not let any other lack take that beauty from me.
This, I learned on the Shadow Farm.
I’m not one of those people with thousands of shallow friendships. I don’t weave easily in and out of crowds or have tons of people who adore my–cough, cough–charming personality. I applaud people who can do that, but I’m not one. With me, you get what you get, and while I won’t lie to you or for you, I will love you with a loyalty like no other until you’ve done everything in your power to drive me away. I don’t stay in my box, I don’t follow the norms, I will challenge you. I am a devoted fan and listener, and you’ll hear me obsess and over-analyze when things don’t make sense. I’ve never been the popular girl or the cool kid, but if we’re close friends, there’s almost nothing I won’t do for you.
Almost. I’ll draw the line at lying. Not a tiny white lie. Not a big life-changing one. I suppose I do have my limits, but that’s it.
The difference in my life now vs 10, 20, 30 years ago is that I’m careful about who is in my life in that innermost circle. It’s been wiped clean–scorched earth–and replanted. Around 10 or so years ago, I threw a party to celebrate a major milestone in my life, one that had been very difficult but I’d made it through. I invited 50 people, the 50 whom I considered my closest friends, the 50 people I spent the most time with. One was a co-worker with whom I shared lunch 3 times a week and helped her keep her job by secretly taking on her workload when she was failing due to a medical condition. One was a guy I’d just started dating. One was a woman with whom I’d spent countless hours allowing her to cry on my shoulder over a personal tragedy.
On the night of the party, only 2 of the 50 showed up. Some had RSVP’d their regrets, and only one of those is a close friend now. The others had said yes, but never showed. Of the 2 who did come, they were out of my life within 2 years. I blew a lot of money on food, but what really hurt was realizing how few of the people I spent my energy on were willing to show up for an informal event that was important to ME, one I’d made know was important to me.
I immediately cleared almost 50 people from my circle. I heard lots of excuses over the next few days, some of which were downright lies, as I became less available to the people I had spent so much time with. One even sheepishly called me up and said, “Yeah, sorry I missed it, but I decided to stay in and watch TV with my hubby. Anyway, could you meet me after work for a few hours? I’m interviewing for your old job and thought maybe you could give me a few tips so I can get promoted.”
And was flabbergasted that I said no.
It was the end of what I had considered a friendship for many years. It was the end of several long-term friendships. I had come to realize that the quality of friends I had, overwhelmingly, weren’t there for me when I needed someone. There were exceptions, but they were very few. It was an awful blow to realize this, as I considered myself loyal, helpful, and dependable–in other words, a good friend.
So over the next year or two, I cleaned my slate of almost all my friends, remaining close emotionally to only a couple, but they ironically no longer lived in the area. That was a difficult period in my life of feeling alone. Like I had no friends at all. And really, I didn’t. So I started from scratch with local friends. I got close to a non-judgmental, free-thinking coworker who is one of my closest friends today. I started a Meetup group and met my “little brother,” who can be counted on to drive 40 minutes near midnight to fix my heater when it’s 12 degrees outside. I saw one new close friend move across the country but play matchmaker with her other close friend so we would have each other in her absence. I leveled up the quality of people I allowed myself to become close to.
A couple of months ago, I went through an odd moment that might have been my empathy with someone else because I now cannot understand how I felt this way. I thought of myself as being without any close friends. Of being lonely and alone. Of pining for so many of my friends who no longer live here and ones I never see any more. Yes, maybe I was just feeling someone else’s feelings. I put away those thoughts until my meditation last night.
My meditations now take place on the Shadow Farm, a between the worlds sort of grassy field where I am aware of those I love, those I focus on, and those who focus on me (good or bad) moving in the Ether around me. I can often check to see, as an empath, if different loved ones are okay. It’s a metaphysical bond, an energetic connection I have a gift for.
I expected 3 female friends to be in their usual spot to the far left. We’ve been spending a lot of time together recently. They were. And there was my little brother arm in arm with me to my right. Another man pacing behind me, distracted for the moment. Those in my spiritual circle scattered around to my right, both behind and in front. Those in other circles down closer to the far edge of this plane, standing as sentries. All these are inner circle friends. Less close friends were scattered here and there on the Shadow Farm, but the closest all stood out like beacons of light. Around a dozen.
A dozen. I”ve rarely had more than 2 close friends at any one time.
This fills my heart. I am so much luckier than I realized, and while not all of these friends live nearby, I don’t need vast numbers of casual friends or drinking buddies or church pals. I have people who are there for me, people who have my back, and I’m grateful for every one of them.
Back in January 2005, I started blogging regularly at a LiveJournal site called SuperGirl@40 as part of my personal therapy to work through healing from a failed marriage…and then suddenly working through all the other crap in my life from childhood. It was a significant part of my healing journey and I shared raw emotions and “dauntless reality” with others in a small circle of new friends who were also dealing with healing from long ago and recent traumas. It was a fairly private blog–well, that privacy lasted until one of my kids mentioned it to an ex-inlaw and then I took a deep breath and watched it go public very quickly. I still write in that raw and profound way I’m known for but having healed so many of my early and frequent wounds, I don’t really write the heavy, raw, vulnerabilities like I used to. I’m committing here to bringing that back, in case you wonder if it ever really left. That means committing to putting the big, scary stuff out there.
The above post is my contribution to this week’s edition of a blog hop started by Kelley Harrell of Soul Intent Arts called “What It Is Wednesday,” which gives bloggers a chance to dauntlessly tell it like it is. You can view the inaugural post to learn more about joining in or just to read other blogs in the hop.