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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The Dark Side Of The Moon

I had two major breakthroughs in therapy today. I did my assignment of making a list of my characteristics; when I presented it, I joked that I did it as a list of pros and cons. She had me read it out loud, then asked me to pretend that all those characteristics belong to someone sitting in the chair next to me. What would I think of that person?

I looked at my list, and admitted that if they were smart, funny, creative, and sarcastic, I would likely want to be their friend. I examined the cons and thought that none of those things were something that would make me dislike someone, things like disorganized, self-doubting, bitchy. She asked what I would tell that person who had self-doubts. Since one of my pros is that I’m encouraging and empathetic, I would tell them that they are capable of doing anything they want.

She then asked what I thought of that person overall. As I looked at that list, a list that I struggled over and thought about endlessly for the last five days, I realized I’m actually a pretty cool person. I’m far from perfect (selfish, authoritative, demanding), but in general, I try to be “good” (kind, caring, giving, generous, fair, ethical). My pros did outweigh my cons, even when weighting various bad characteristics more heavily than others.

That was breakthrough number one. Number two was the big “aha” moment, though… As we talked about my deep-seated parental void that I’m constantly trying to fill, she said that I would NEVER be able to fill that void, that it would always be there. At first I thought that was kind of a negative thing for a therapist to say, but then it hit me.

When I met Ron, I believed with all my heart that he was my missing piece. That if he loved me unconditionally, I would never want for anything or anyone ever again. In a lot of ways, he is my missing piece, and the Universe knows that this man loves me unconditionally and has done so through good times and bad. Even so, I still have that longing, needy, existential void that I keep trying to fill with one person or another, particularly mother figures.

But no one, no matter how wonderful they are, can ever make that nothingness go away. No one can go back in time and re-parent the neglected and abused child to keep that vastness from springing into existence. All I can do now is try to talk myself down off the ledge of low self-esteem by reminding myself that I am worth sacrificing for, I am worth encouraging, I am worth loving, I am worth protecting. And the fact that I wasn’t encouraged, loved, or protected as a child ISN’T MY FAULT. It’s my mother’s.

One of the things I listed is that I am a good mother. I know I’m a good mother because I have awesome relationships with my awesome kids. Matt calls me at least once a week if not more, just to catch up and touch base. I see Aubrey every single day and she hugs me every night before she goes home. In spite of my lack of a maternal example, I still managed to love and protect and encourage my children. I was far from perfect. Trust me, there are plenty of moments where I know I was the worst mother ever. But overall, Matt and Aubrey know they are loved unconditionally. My worst mother moments were my failing, not theirs.

In a hilarious caricature of my entire relationship with my mother, I recently posted a meme about depression not always having a reason. My mother in all of her narcissistic glory, posted, “Now you know how I feel.” OMFG. Are you freakin’ kidding me? While a million and one smart ass comments ran through my head, I settled on replying, “It’s what I aspire to.” Really, I wanted to say, “Way to make it all about you.”

I don’t care who a person is, and especially not if it was my child, if someone I know were to post that meme, I would respond with, “I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time.” Or, ” Is there anything I can do to help?” Or even, “I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but I’m here for you if you need anything.”

We all had a good laugh about it because it is seriously typical. However, while I know it’s a dark humor thing, I also know that it hurts in a way that only maternal rejection can hurt. But after today, I also know that her response is her problem, not mine. It really, truly, absolutely is NOT about me.

That is huge. Groundbreaking. Tremendous. So after a week of making a list, checking it twice, and interviewing my friends and family, I know exactly who I am.

I am enough.

The Road So Far

I am still committed to the low-carb journey, although I have gone up to 45 carbs a day should I want them. At the behest of a couple of friends, one of whom is a GP, I did check in with my doctor. It was time for a full physical anyway. I gave up five tubes of blood and got a tetanus booster that has my arm swollen, knotted, and itchy. Other than my continuing diagnoses of major depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and insomnia, I’m relatively healthy, although I am still waiting on all the blood results.

Of course my doctor recommended I have 30 grams of carbs per meal. I’m not sure I even know how to do that anymore, unless I eat a potato or something. Should my liver panel show any abnormalities I will obviously have to increase my carbs, but in the meantime I’m at half that. We did agree that I would go back on the slivers of Nuvigil (I can only handle 37.5 mg a day) and that I would see my therapist for this depressive episode.

Depression pisses me off. First off, I fucking hate the word, because it doesn’t really describe the feeling. I think “inundation” is a much better word. I feel inundated with emotion, so overwhelmed that I can’t function because I can’t figure out what the next step should be. Besides, it literally comes in waves. I can feel okay one minute, and then burst into tears the next, then five minutes later be fine again.

It’s been a couple of years since I saw my therapist, but I had to laugh when I saw my folder. It’s almost two inches thick. I’ve been seeing her since 2004, which means I’ve shown her more commitment than my first two marriages put together. She was very happily surprised that Ron and I are still married, as we had essentially decided to divorce the last time I saw her.

We spent a few minutes catching up, (Ron’s great, Aub’s going to college in the spring, Matt’s in California, Aub has an apartment, etc…) and then delved into the cause of this current episode. It all boiled down to my major abandonment issues, my anger at my chronic illness, and my relentless yet hopeless search for a parent.

are you my

This baby bird is my soul sibling.

Most importantly, she gave me permission to grieve my losses. It’s okay to be sad, angry, and disappointed. It’s okay to cry and rant and whine. For a while. But she also had me count out all my positives. Leigh, who offers me the most amazing unconditional love and is a constant source of recovery and healing, even though we only see each other once or twice a year and rarely talk otherwise. My husband, who makes me feel worthy and goes above and beyond every single day. My son, who makes me laugh with his antics in spite of being so far away. My daughter who is truly my best friend and staunchest defender. My friend Rob, who has gently reminded me every day that she is here, even when I push her away. I thought I was past the stage of testing people’s loyalty, but apparently, that nasty habit lingers. Today, I decide to stop pushing and start accepting.

Of course, the not so easy thing is the homework. While I obviously have some residual childhood trauma to deal with (again), this time I have to work at an even deeper level. This week’s assignment is to write out who I am. Not what I can do or have done, but who I am. I really don’t know who I am. In a lot of ways, I know who I want to be, and I know who I’ve been but who I am now? That I’m not so sure about.

I asked my friends and got a few interesting answers: caring, strong, survivor, afraid, quirky, fearless, unapologetic… Ugh, I wish I were fearless. I know there have been times when I have been, but that time is not now.

After much introspection and lots of conversations, I think the only thing that today I know for sure is that I am loved. And for today, that’s enough.