Do you know who your friends are? I thought I did.
That is, I don’t.
My husband tells me that one of my characteristics that leads to pain is that when I make a friend, I’m all in. I’m devoted. I’m loyal. I don’t see much point in relationships in which I need to remain guarded. If I can’t talk to you, really talk to you, what’s the point? After all, I can drink by myself. I believe he’s right; when I make a friend, she becomes a part of my life. She is not a satellite orbiting my “real” life with my kids, husband, dogs. I am also told that I’m quite honest, and that some people can’t handle that. I see where someone might think I’m honest and straightforward, but I suspect that’s mostly a matter of tone.
My tone really is a problem for me. I try to be aware, try to be sensitive, but I am misinterpreted a lot, and that can’t always be everyone else’s fault.
How well I know my friends is tricky, because I’m not sure anymore that I’m right about what I should know. I have a sneaking suspicion that I put far more weight on this than other people do. My oldest friend in all the world and I have been friends since we met at age four. So that’s forty-four years and going strong. We’ve been close, we’ve pulled apart, gotten back together again, and so on–forty-four years is a long time. I know a lot about her, and she knows a lot about me–at least each others’ pasts. I believe I know her character, and I’m guessing she believes she knows mine. But our adult lives have been at quite a distance; do we know the people we’ve become, or is our love for each other based on that shared past? Does that matter?
I have also lost friends, and I admit that several of those losses remain a mystery to me; they cause me a great deal of pain because of the combined grief and inscrutability. I understand I must have contributed, but I remain in the dark about how I did so. It isn’t for lack of trying. I am not hopelessly lacking in self-awareness, or unwilling to admit fault, or even a person who cuts others dead rather than deal with conflict. And I’m neurotic enough to obsessively go over and over everything, to develop nervous compulsions while I try to figure it all out.
I suppose not every woman needs this, but I need women friends–to talk to about spouses, children, books, sex, art; to drink with, to laugh with, to argue with. There are few things more comforting to me than a shared tmi. I am all ears as soon as a friend says, “this might be an over-share, but….” Recently I was at a party, and a woman I had just met was telling people a story that involved the words “my sexual awakening.” I knew immediately that I liked her, and scooted forward to listen in.
My husband tells me that I am always making friends with crazy people. Isn’t that sweet?