Friendships at any age are sometimes difficult and precarious. When you are young, things change at lightning speed. Hormones, fights, gossip, changing of interests–any number of factors–alter feelings, cause rifts and obliterate friendships. When you become an adult, you would think that maturity and time would change that, but often it gets worse and pettiness amplifies.
In school, once we stopped moving around so much, my friend group pretty much stayed the same. I mostly got along with everyone, at least until high school where things started getting weird and I kind of wonder if my need to be kind to others and my inability to speak up for myself with any sort of volume or assertiveness sometimes put me in painful situations. Case in point–I was friends with “E” all throughout junior high. I always knew he was different, but it never bothered me. “E” was gay and I adored the crap out of him anyway (I was brought up attending a VERY conservative Baptist church so you can do the math here). When we transitioned from junior high into high school, “E” and I sort of drifted in different directions. No animosity as far as I could tell, until Julie came along. I had known her for a while and that year, for some unknown reason, she developed a cruel streak and she had it out for me. Julie decided to write a letter to “E” that was absolutely horrid and she blamed it on me. I knew it was her because I knew her handwriting. It used gay slurs I had never even heard of before that letter and never would have used even if I had known them. “E” never questioned her assigning blame to me and the two of them decided to take that letter around to as many students as they could, let them read it and on a piece of paper, they could write what they thought of me after reading that letter. I tried to protest, but my voice wasn’t loud enough. I was absolutely mortified that someone would do something so awful to one of my friends and blame me. Needless to say, both friendships were irreparably damaged, and over for good.
Fast forward a few years–okay a few decades–not a lot has changed. Tactics have changed but grown adults are just as cowardly and just as cruel. Second case in point is Deb. I met her when we were both in college raising kids as single mothers. We lived in the same apartment complex and when her boys met my son, they became friends and one night she invited us to the drive-in with them and we were inseparable after that. For 13 years, I considered her my sister. We made and ate meals together, we took our kids hiking together, we had grown up sleep overs and just hung out together all the time. Almost 6 years ago (or 5? I can’t remember exactly), she called me and asked if I was okay with my husband driving to Yakima with her to pick up one of her sons. I think It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas break and there was a great deal of snowfall with no signs of stopping. She didn’t want to go by herself and I trusted both of them. My then-husband went and shortly after that she stopped speaking to me. I don’t know if something happened or something was said, but it wasn’t until the last year or so that I realized the time/event correlation. It could be that I was dealing with a horrible marriage and some serious depression. I asked if I had done something wrong or if she was upset with me and “no” was the reply to both questions. She never did elaborate and said we should talk. That talk never happened and eventually I unfriended her on facebook because I could no longer stand the real life silence between us while she posted pictures and such of all the things she and her other friends were doing. It was unbearable. I felt like I had lost not only my best friend but also my sister. My then-husband watched me cry over the loss of that friendship for what seemed like forever. I found out a couple years ago that Deb and my now ex-husband have remained friends this whole time. He never said a word, just watched me suffer and cry. It was such an act of cruelty and cowardice on both their parts. I still ache when I think about it. Not sure that loss will ever be completely unfelt.
My third case in point is “B”. My husband and I went to church with him and his wife a number of years ago. When I started driving for Uber, he contacted me to get information and eventually confided in me that he and his wife were divorcing. We started hanging out a lot and would sometimes meet for dinner while we were out Ubering. We talked a lot. And often. If you have been divorced, you know how hard it can be even if it is the best possible option for you. You need a support system. Our shared experiences gave us something to bond over and we became close friends. Until “M” entered the picture. “M” was his not-a-girlfriend. They started spending every waking moment together and very quickly I became disposable. Until they broke up. Then I became important again and we talked and hung out all the time again. Then “B” happened and I once again became disposable. After he and “B” broke up, back to friends. We spent all the time we could together, including a trip to Portland courtesy of my employer. And then, yep, you guessed it…..another woman entered the picture and I became disposable again. He once told me that it was his job to show me how a man should treat a woman (if you have read any other posts on this blog, you will understand why). I am slightly dense when it comes to the opposite sex, but I am guessing extracting what you can from someone you call friend and then disposing of them is not it.
While these are three examples of some of the friendship F***-ups (there are a lot more), there are some truly amazing people that have been blessed to call friend. Some of them I see all the time, some of them I wish I saw more, but all of them have a very special place somewhere in my life.
Aaron is my best friend. He is half my age, geeky and a bit of a gamer or he was. I met him at my former employer and our friendship started because he was supposed to teach me how to play first person shooter games so that I could surprise my kids and play with them. He kept coming over to my house to play games, but somehow that turned into conversation and a shared love of The Walking Dead, which we watched. A lot. After a while, he just became a fixture in my life. I never learned to play first person shooter games. We hardly ever see each other (he works 12-16 hour days as a correctional officer), but when we do it is like starting up just where we left off. He has been one of my biggest supporters and biggest cheerleaders when I was struggling and my life was falling apart.
Dianna is one of the best humans I know. We don’t see each other nearly enough. She is one of those people that shows up at just the right time and has me in stitches when I am having the worst shit day. When I am with her laughing is nearly non-stop and I can always count on her to help me find crazy shoes. I feel like I can trust her no matter what. We also met at my former employer and we started bonding over work frustrations and things grew from there.
Jennifer J is someone I served with in the army. While we both studied language at the Defense Language Institute, we didn’t actually meet until we served in Germany. She might be one of the sweetest, most genuinely nice people I know. I liked her way back then, but It wasn’t until we reconnected on facebook that I really started to appreciate her. We have a lot in common–a love of all things tie dye and colorful, Monterey is our favorite place on the planet and our silly personalities just to name a few. She is like my long lost twin and I absolutely love the woman. I so wish we lived closer to each other. We would be hanging out all the time. Whether she liked it or not. HA!
Shawna, another former co-worker is just an all around cool badass. She doesn’t put up with crap from anyone and would step in front of a bus before she would let it hit you. She is fiercely protective and takes care of those she cares about. On several occasions she has taken up for me when no one else would and was ready to take out a couple of different people for me and when I hit a particular rough spot, she offered help and support. I know she has done that for others as well.
I met Allison through a former artist friend I met on facebook. We bonded over similar interests and similar past trauma. She is someone I can tell anything to and I trust her completely. She has put up with a lot of my personal drama, stuff I don’t tell anyone else. She doesn’t judge me and is straight up honest with me even if it is something I don’t want to hear. We finally met in person a few months ago and I adore her even more than I did via our facebook friendship. She is a talented, funny, empathetic, kind and sweet human being. I wish we lived closer to each other too.
Theresa is a former coworker. She goes out of her way to invite me and my kids to her house for dinner or to go somewhere nature-centered and fun. She is always checking on me and concerned for my well-being. She invests her time and energy into trying out new gluten free recipes she can share with me and she used to bring meals she made at home to share with me and others at work. She is very much the motherly type who spends her time taking care of others
There are so many others–Ann, Kerry, Denise, Dorrie, Melissa. So many people that are so many things to me. Cheerleaders, supporters, partners in crime. I don’t know what I would do without them.
The not-so-good ones definitely left strong impressions and did some difficult to undo damage, but because of their shitty behavior and less than stellar treatment of me, I have learned a bit about how I DON’T want to treat people. The best ones? Well, they are people I want to emulate, people I strive to be like. I feel like I always fall horribly short, but I am working on it. And I have some very good role models. Yes, even at the ripe old age of 48, I still have role models. And a lot to learn.