That’s What Friends Are For

18 months ago, my life was so much different. I had a slew of what I considered to be good friends. I was knitting in a different group every day and considered myself somewhat popular. Then I made the mistake of becoming close to the wrong person and when the schism inevitably happened, just like in any divorce, friends took sides. I. Lost. Almost. Everyone.

It was HARD to cope with the sudden changes. I went into a major depressive episode and returned to therapy. Oddly enough, a miracle occurred and I gained a new perspective on my need for people to like me. For the first time, I truly was able to say, “Fuck it,” and concentrated on spending time with the people who actually do care about me rather than chasing after the ones who don’t.

Every once in a while, I come across an FB post that is evidence of my non-importance to those I called friends and I admit that it does sting for a moment or two. But then I remember the real people who matter and it’s like aloe on a burn.

There is one person that I particularly miss, though. J.S. was someone who soothed my troubled soul, whom I thought loved unconditionally, whom I loved unconditionally. Even when we didn’t see each other as much as I’d have liked, she would randomly text that she was thinking about me. Then she stopped responding to my texts. I was ghosted. It hurt because I loved her.

Months later I received a single text that she wasn’t upset with me, but that she was dealing with stuff and didn’t feel up to socializing. I accepted that because I’ve been there. I never heard from her again. But today I saw a selfie with her hanging out with someone I don’t like, to put it mildly. That’s cool; I never begrudge someone else’s choice in friends. However, I can’t help but think that I was easily replaced by someone she considers to be better in whatever way. My heart broke a little to know that it’s not that she doesn’t want to hang out, it’s that she doesn’t want to hang out with ME.

So today, I am sad. Heartbroken, even. I miss her. And that is OK.

After grieving for a bit, I will go back to being excited that my best friend is moving all the way from Connecticut back to Texas. She will be within easy driving distance. Leigh is more than a friend, she is the closest thing I have to a sister. She is the other half of my heart. While losing a friend can be devastating and leave me feeling unwanted and “less than,” I think of Leigh, who swore she’d never move back to the same state as her mother and sister, saying, “I need to be near you more than I need to be away from my family.”

me and leigh

Leigh and Me

I am loved. I am wanted. I am enough.

 

 

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That’s What Friends Are For

I know it’s been a while, but with all the anti-feminist crap going on in the world, I’ve been too livid to write anything. Today is really the first day that I’ve been able to really organize my thoughts without being spitting mad. I’m still angry, but I’m not sputtering quite as much.

This blog post isn’t really meant to be a political statement (seriously, if it were, you’d have stopped reading by now, I’m sure!). This entire blog is about finding the happiness in crappy day to day situations, and that’s what this post is all about.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been unfriended, I’ve unfriended others, and I have been publicly vociferous. This is such a polarizing issue, but what has been awesome is that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the friends who have come out as on our side. Considering the people that I’ve unfriended are generally not important to me, while the ones who surprise me ARE important to me, it makes me feel somewhat relieved about my friend choices.

I’ve also become friends with some really amazing people, both male and female. One thing that I’ve happily discovered is there ARE a few other liberal women in Texas, and they KNIT! While I usually hesitate to make generalizations, my limited personal experience is that the people I know who only crochet seem to be less intellectual than the people I know who knit. Perhaps that’s just a southern thing? I don’t know.

Last Sunday, our regular group was quite loud and angry while we knitted at a local Panera in a very Republican neighborhood. We were thrown dirty looks by little old white women, but as our militant quasi-leader said, “Life’s tough for everybody. Get over it.” She’s from the hippie generation, so she’s already fought this battle once before. That evening, I sent her a message on Ravelry asking if she’d be my roommate at next year’s fiber retreat and she said yes. I’m super excited to have a friend who not only knits, but has a doctorate and is a feminist.

For most of my life, I’ve felt really alone, especially in my adult life. While my husband and kids are fabulous and wonderful, and my daughter truly is one of my best friends, it’s not the same. It’s hard for a liberal woman in Texas to make friends, especially friends with similar interests. It’s been the main reason I’ve wanted to move to the northeast, where friendship comes easily. Suddenly, I find myself surrounded by like-minded women and it is glorious! It is definitely making my time in Texas more pleasant and way less depressing.

While Saudi America goes to shit and the Constitution dissolves before our very eyes and the Supreme Court ignores decades upon decades of precedent, logic, and reason, I’ve found the good. More importantly, I’ve found hope. I think that is what friends are meant to give us: hope. The feeling that we are not alone in this dark universe.

So screw Hobby Lobby. We are women, we are crafters, and we shop…but we don’t shop at Hobby Lobby. Even more than all that, we freakin’ VOTE. And there are more of us than I ever imagined.

birth control

 

The Bright Side of Life

Just when I think things are going well, it turns out they’re not. I hate this inconsistent roller coaster of emotions. Yesterday was one of those days where I just wanted to call it and be done. But I won’t. Marriage is about commitment, and I am committed. Or maybe I should be committed? Not sure.

Dinner has been ready every week night by the time Ron gets home. The dishes are done before bed. The dishwasher is unloaded every day. Our bed is made every morning. All the laundry gets done by Friday afternoons so Ron has the weekend free to do other stuff. In other words, he’s getting all he asked for. He’s definitely less stressed, but he’s still not happy.

Last night, we had a long talk about where our relationship is going, what are our boundaries, what we each want and don’t want. Ron spent his formative teenage years being raised by his dad in a somewhat emotionally bereft home. There were no hugs, no “I love you” as he walked out the door, and no example of what a good marriage is. While I certainly didn’t have a good example in my parents, I had plenty outside my home; as I’ve gotten older, I have friends with good marriages who have still had tough times but have seen it through. Best of all examples though, is having been married twice before. I realize what is good, what is bad, what stays, what goes, and above all else, I know that wherever I go, there I am. In other words, I recognize what is my issue vs. what is a marital issue.

But Ron doesn’t have that. He said that, “It was fun at first, but then that went away.” I laughed (I couldn’t help it) and explained that of course the fun went away; that the falling in love feeling only lasts for a while. He also said he loved me as a friend; I said I love him as a friend, too; that as marriage goes along, friendship is what we’re left with and what gets us through. I don’t think I’m just being stubborn. We have the same values, our politics are similar although I’m more passionate, we support each other, we respect each other, and most importantly, we make each other laugh. For me, that’s worth fighting for. We balance each other out in that he keeps me grounded and I keep him human.

My ex-husband used to tell me to stop focusing on making the right decision and focus instead on making my decision right. In other words, once you make your choice, learn to live with it. So I see the bright side of things. Goodness, if I didn’t see the positive, I would never have escaped my childhood. However, Ron sees the negative of everything. It’s all he ever thinks about. Things will NEVER work, things will NEVER change, he will NEVER get a new job, I will NEVER keep the house clean…so much NEVER and not enough MAYBE.

So I asked him to engage in a small experiment before we really call it quits. He said it seemed like too much, so I said we’d start with something really simple. He does enjoy kissing, so I asked him to kiss me goodnight and goodbye every day for the next two weeks, and that we wouldn’t talk about our relationship at all during these two weeks. He didn’t understand what I meant, so I kissed him the way I want to be kissed, just to make sure he had the idea.

Two kisses and a whole lot of under cover time later, he saw the possibilities in my request. Of course, I know the science behind it: kissing and cuddling releases oxytocin, which is a neuromodulator that is responsible for pair bonding. In other words, kissing someone makes you feel closer to that person. Touching also releases oxytocin, so this morning when I heard his alarm go off, I snuggled close and rubbed his back (under his shirt) for a good while. He ended up late to work, but I got one hell of a goodbye kiss. After twelve hours, I thought we were on to a successful start.

Can we kiss our way back to him being in love? No, it’s going to take more than that. But it’s a simple start, easy enough to do, and doesn’t cost anything, all requirements for an effort from Ron. We still have other things to work on, particularly communication, but other than communication, they are generally superficial things…the house, the laundry, the dishes, the bills, the debt. I can effect a change in him simply by doing my part in those areas.

Being in love is really just a decision made every day to be in love. Being married is just a decision made every day to stay married. Can he make that decision? I don’t know. But last night and this morning definitely give me a LOT of hope, and that’s better than not having any hope at all.

love quotes-a-true-love-store11

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Yesterday at the bookstore, Leigh and I were giggling over some silly thing and I started thinking about a post from one of my favorite blogs, Moms Who Drink And Swear. In “Making A New McFriend At The Play Place“, Nicole Knepper describes meeting a mom while watching her kid play in the tubes; “More cracking up. I noticed we were both wearing pajama pants. I wondered if she hadn’t brushed her teeth either. I was falling in love with her. Not in the sexual, I want to jump her mom bones way, but in the-OH MY GOD I LOVE THE WAY THIS BITCH THINKS-way. Know what I mean?”

Yes, Nikki, I do know what you mean. My BFF lives across the freakin’ country from me, and I fly up here every chance I get, but it would be really nice to have a friend at home. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some wonderful friends at home, and I love every one of them. But I’m talking about the kind of friend where she’d rather come over an hour early so you can have more time doing things together than have you waste an hour cleaning the house before she’s allowed in. The kind of friend that has you doubled over in the aisle at Michaels because you both hate Martha Stewart with unbridled passion. That friend who calls you at 10pm, desperate because she’s determined to make pith helmets out of glue and cheese cloth for every kid invited to her kid’s birthday party at 10am the next morning, and rather than talk her down, you fucking drive to her house and stay up all night making pith helmets from glue and cheese cloth. Yes, that really happened; no, I was not the one who decided to make them, I was the friend who showed up to help; no, they did not turn out like pith helmets because they didn’t dry in time, but we laughed our asses off about it for ages; no, that was not my friend Leigh, it was someone with whom I am no longer friends, and while I don’t miss her, I miss the quality of friendship that we had while it lasted. That friendship was over at least 20 years ago, and I have yet to find another one like it, besides Leigh.

I did try putting an ad in craigslist, and I did manage to find someone that I thought would be a great friend, but it turned out that she was super high maintenance, and kinda expected me to be on-call, even while recovering from my hysterectomy. Trust me, if we’d been friends for more than three weeks, I would have totally been all over it, but we weren’t there yet. I gave up after that point.

I read a lot of chick-lit, and I KNOW these things are fiction, because dammit, these awesome women are as fucking elusive as fairies. Obviously, Nikki Knepper is a real person, and Leigh and I are real people, but where are the rest of us? Chick-lit flies off the shelves; surely I am not the only woman who is so desperate to find a like-minded friend, we read about them just so we can have them in our lives for 90 minutes. Smart, sarcastic, bitterly funny but not bitter, Starbucks-guzzling, pro-reproductive rights but not militant women.

I’m sure a large majority of my problem is that I live in Texas. The other problem is that in my head, I’m still 18-22. I read young adult fiction, and I don’t just mean Harry Potter and Twilight. I don’t have any urge to go clubbing, but it would be nice to have a friend who likes karaoke every now and again, and who doesn’t mind helping me drink a bottle of wine while we do something crafty. It doesn’t even have to be the same craft; I’m not picky! And while I don’t expect this person to have fibromyalgia, nor do I expect them to listen to me whine about it constantly (I am not a whiner, but I will bitch about being pissed at my body betraying me), I at least expect them to respect that fibro is a real disease. On those days when I feel like crap, it would be awesome to have a friend to come over and sit with me while I’m stuck in bed, and distract me with stupid stories about stupid people.

Which is why my daughter is my BFF at home. Aubrey is/does all those things. But I want her to have her own life, not be tied to mine. I want her to have her own crazy friends her own physical age, and eventually, her own insanely idiotic failed adventures making party favors for a four year old.

I know that in the past, I’ve lost friends because I was a bad friend. I’ve also lost friends because *they* were bad friends. And of course, I’ve lost friends because our lives just went in different directions and we didn’t have anything in common anymore. But for the life of me, I can’t remember how to make a friend, or even where to start.

Short of moving to Chicago and begging Nikki Knepper to be my friend or spending a fortune in flying to Leigh’s three or four times a year, I’m not sure quite what to do. I really hope 2014 is the year I can figure it out.

 

If I Had A Spell of Magic

I know that lately, I’ve been really focused on loss. I dread when a day comes when I actually lose a person to death, about whom I really care. I think I’ve written before that I have been to a LOT of funerals. My mother loves them; me, not so much. Maybe it’s the Scotch-Irish in me, but Aubrey knows that there are only three things that I require when I die: I want Amazing Grace on bagpipes by men in kilts, no one is allowed to wear black, and I want one hell of a wake.

Of course, my mother often threatens that if I don’t go to other people’s funerals, no one will come to mine. Huh? Perhaps I should give that more consideration, as I enter the demographic of people who tend to die of heart attacks and cancer. In the era of facebook, I have a hundred or so people that at least pretend to care about what I think, feel, and do…or at least, about those things of which I post. In reality, I know that most people either have me hidden or skip my posts.

This philosophy drives my best friend crazy. She contends that I am outgoing and friendly, that I make friends easily, that I’m good at almost everything, that I quickly become an expert at what I put more than five seconds of thought into, that I’m a devoted and awesome parent, that my husband is madly in love with me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see ourselves through our best friend’s eyes?

I’m creative, not artistic. I’m conversational because I get bored easily, not because I’m outgoing or friendly. I’m passable at a lot of things, and really dreadful at most everything else. OK, I do agree that I can quickly become an expert in something if I spend the time, but I rarely care to spend the time. Once I essentially master something, that’s good enough for me. Depending on who you ask, I’m either a meddling or controlling parent who yelled way too much. My husband loves me, but that’s different than being in love (that debate is topic for an entirely different post sometime).

I’m not saying there aren’t some things I’m really good at…I think I’m a damned good writer, a good portrait photographer, and I love with my whole heart. I’m also really good at seeing things in shades of gray, which is in itself a blessing and a curse. I’m a decent crocheter, pretty good at making chain maille, and I once sewed an entire Little House On the Prairie costume, including the bonnet. I was most impressed that I made the freakin’ bonnet than anything else.

I can make people laught, at least the ones who understand sarcasm. I’m strong in my convictions, and for better or worse, I am an idealist. I love my husband, and more days than not, I am madly in love with him, too. I’m great with animals. I’m a really good listener (mainly because I am a nosy, curious person, and love to hear a story).

But no matter what relatively good things I see in myself, my best friend sees them magnified 100 times, and points them out to me regularly. She doesn’t just give a vague, “Gee, you’re swell!” kind of comment; she gives specific examples of things that I’ve accomplished, and tries to make me believe that I am amazing.

As I wallow and whine my way through all these recent changes in my life, I am forever grateful to her. She has literally saved me from my self, and now, she is working hard to save me from this misery. Even if I never see myself the way that she sees me, it’s pretty damned amazing that anyone sees me that way at all.

“If I had a spell of magic, I would make this enchantment come true; a burgandy heart-shaped medallion, with a window that you could look through. So that when all the mirrors are angry, with your faults, and all you must do, you can peek through that heart-shaped medallion, and see you from my point of view.”