Just so you know, I actually started writing this on Friday night. But I was a little, um, altered so it wasn’t the most coherent thing ever. So I’ve cleaned it up a bit, added a little more and here we are:
I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately.
My whole life I’ve considered myself a loner. I had friends but at the end of the day I always felt alone. I would hang out, have sleep overs, talk to people on the phone… but was just as happy sitting alone reading, watching TV or generally being by myself. My elementary and middle school friendships faded, followed by the implosion of my high school friendships. My college friendships endured for a while but children and geography got the better of them. I made friends through work and other things but they never seemed to last. People are busy, me included, and friendship never seemed to have the same priority that it did when we were younger. Gone were the sleep overs, the daily phone calls (or even emails.) When I needed someone in the middle of the night I didn’t have anyone to call. I didn’t have anyone I felt truly comfortable and safe with. I thought I was just someone who would never have best or lifelong friends. I thought I lacked the friendship gene. I would see people with lifelong friendships and be jealous. Why didn’t I have that? Why did people seemingly just go from my life? Facebook just amplified that for me. I would see the people who had floated out of my life remain friends with people we knew and be so jealous. I felt like I was on the outside looking in.
Over the course of my life I have blessed with amazing friends. People who come through right when you need it, right when you least expect it. People who have shown up. I have loved and been loved by truly amazing people. And I’ve taken all of it for granted. I looked at infinite kindness and love and didn’t see it for what it was. I didn’t see it in 3D. I saw one side and it wasn’t a true one. I have let people I loved go. I have resented and complained. And, I recently realized, in all my 35 years I have never once considered what I meant to the friends I’ve had. Only what they meant to me. Friends came and went and, though there have been some I’ve missed, it honestly never phased me. I never even gave a thought to what losing the friendship meant to them. And that shames me. I know that we can only see things through our own eyes, our own feelings but at the same time- how selfish have I been? How foolish? Who am I to think only of myself?
Last December I woke up totally alone for the first time in twelve and a half years. While I might have passed a night crying about being a rock (please tell me you get that reference), I still got into bed every night with my two best friends. I woke up with them every morning. There was no space away from them, no time they weren’t there for me or with me. I told them all my secrets, went to them for comfort, loved them as I never thought possible. They were with me for every single thing that happened in my adulthood. They celebrated and mourned with me. And I took them for granted more than anyone else. I looked through them in many ways, many many times. Until they weren’t there any more. Every night I dragged myself off to silence, woke up to the same emptiness. That’s when I realized I’d never been alone all along. I always had someone- I just might not have seen them. I might not have appreciated them. I held everyone at arm’s length, truly afraid of losing them. And then I did. And I didn’t know how I would survive without them.
And that’s when something amazing happened. People started to come back to me. Maybe that’s the wrong way to say it- I started to come back to people. I stopped hiding behind my loner facade and began to allow myself to need people. To not just have friends but to really be a friend (I hope.) I let people back in. It’s hard. There are times I want to hide. As I said the other day, it’s hard to ask for help. I’m still not good at it but I’m trying. It’s especially hard because so many people don’t understand or appreciate what it’s like to lose a pet (that’s a post for another day) which makes it hard to explain all this. There are still many times I feel alone and friendless. I still want to have someone to call in the middle of the night. Or to complain to without feeling like a burden. But things are slowly changing.
To my friends I want to say: I love you so much. I am so grateful to you and honored by your friendship. I appreciate you for sticking by me, making me laugh, being there when I cry and generally being your amazing selves. I am in awe of each one of you and so glad to be a part of your lives. I hope that I can be there for you as you are for me. I know I don’t say it enough but I am thankful for you. Every day.