I recently received an email from an old friend I had a serious falling out with over a year ago. It led to an IM conversation that led to a Facebook invite so I could see some pictures of her kids, which I accepted, so apparently that means we're friends again. Right? Ugh. So now I'm sitting here in the dark and thinking really hard on friendships, what they are, what they cost us, and why sometimes despite all the pain they cause, friendships are so worth it, sometimes.
I think that my female friendships have shaped my life more than any of the relationships I've ever had with a man. Maybe because I have 5 very loud and fiery Aunts who controlled the family and two uncles who just kind of hung out in the back ground in a bit of a drunken haze and let the women do what they would. All of these women were strong and fierce and amazing in their own way. NONE of them are what you would call easy going. Unless you consider riding bareback at full speed across uneven terrain easy going.
I've had those and some other amazing women come and go through my life, but lots of them have done really hurtful things to me, and I have to admit I've often done the same. Sometimes it was done with intent, sometimes not. But wow, the horrible things that friends put each other through. But some of those very same people have done wonderful things that bring tears to my eyes just thinking about it. PUT OUT THE BAT SIGNAL CHIEF, THIS GIRL NEEDS HELP. And in they swoop and swarm, with warm and patient words, and big bottles of wine, and bigger bottles of Vodka, and casseroles or just the right bra/shirt/dress and they enfold us in wings of acceptance and love and fashion advice or whatever it is we need at exactly that moment.
It starts young. I see the seeds in my daughter and her friends. The way that they will stretch their hearts out to the max when it's needed. The way they can turn on each other on the dime. The way they can be a puppy pile of snuggles on the couch one minute and shrieking at each other the next over what to watch on TV only to be singing along merrily to some stupid song on the radio 5 minutes later and choreographing a new dance number.
I remember the horrible fights I had with my friends when I was younger. I mean, I can remember some pretty vicious things... but the importance of those fights all seem to fade in the light of the good stories we have to tell. Stories of epic sleep overs and the pranks we used to pull, late nights out on the town after sneaking out of my basement window, with cover stories so stupidly elaborate and patently false that just ONE call by our parents could have landed any number of us grounded until we were 39.
I can remember the betrayals as we flexed our sexual muscle around the many number of eager neighborhood boys willing to take advantage of the situation.I can remember the fights. Sort of. But mostly, I remember laughing. A LOT. I remember sharing our hopes and dreams our fears and hurts. I remember talking about feelings I didn't think anyone else HAD and finding out... wow, they feel that way too. I'm not alone. We're all so different and fucked up and kind of mean; but we're all the same and I'M NOT ALONE.
But, frankly it's kind of exhausting trying to keep up with the lows and the highs at times. I began to wonder if EVERYONE had friendships like that. I remember trying to talk about it to a guy I was dating with while I was going through an especially frustrating "low/high" relationship with a female friend. He seemed confused. "Why are you friends then?" Why indeed?
"Well, when she's not being a mean, snobby, judgy, bitch, she is SOO funny, and she is so sentimental, and she's so damned smart, and she will drop everything in a second to come to you if you really need her and she's really kind of wonderful."
"Sounds like a lot of wasted energy and work." He said. At that moment in time, I had to agree. Later, it turned out HE was a lot of wasted and energy and work. The Mean Snobby Judgy Bitch and I are still friends, if tenuously. Because she's WORTH the effort. Him, not so much. But I have to wonder - am I the only one who insists on holding on to friendships for as long as I can? Is it sometimes maybe too long? Or are we back on the subject of never really being able to love too much, you just can't always expect to be loved back?
How often are we supposed to forgive? And do we forgive because we are genuinely forgiving and washing our souls clear of the pain caused? Or do we forgive, because we recognize hints of ourselves in the criticisms, judgments and betrayals?? Or are we just biding our time until we have the perfect opportunity to strike the whore down when she's at her weakest and unsuspecting?? (Wait, what? did I say that?)
I do have some friendships that are "non" drama. Some that have lasted years and some newer ones that I'm consciously cultivating.... women and actually a few men, who are just good people. Fun to talk to. Easy to share with. It's RELAXING to be around these people. But with few exceptions most of these people don't carry the same kind of emotional value. It's like you know one of the reasons they can accept you as you are, is cause, you really don't matter to them all that much. You can do what you want and be who you are cause in the end, they're just passive listeners to your life, not people who are actively involved and ready to kick your ass when you make a mistake. I've recently discovered a friendship that is both accepting and willing to kick my ass - but with very little drama, and I'm guessing this is why we're fast becoming really good friends...
But, I can't help but think that some of these other relationships I have must be unhealthy. Is it normal to pack that much love and hate in a relationship? Are they unconscious reflections of my relationship with my mother? Unconditional love mixed with Dear God can I smack the living shit out of her NOW? I've never had a sister - but I have two friendships where I have called these women my "sisters" and they are the most volatile relationships I've had. I've called off the relationships several times. Officially and sometimes only in my head. But I can honestly say that some of the best, most fun, most GENUINE moments were spent with these people. But I also have to say that some of the deepest hurts and betrayals I've felt have been at their hands. My relationship with these women have left me wounded in ways no break up with anyone short of the one with my ex-husband could. But I keep seeing that glimmer of hope and light and laughter. And I keep trying. Maybe not as completely and naively as I have in other times.
And I have to wonder - have they ruined me to ever having complete trust in anyone again? Or is this what life is? Loving folks despite the pain and the disappointment and the bullshit that always seems to come along??? Or do I really need to let go so as to really heal and make room for authentic relationships that are full of love and light? Is that just a New Age fantasy that has been bundled along with sage for burning and pretty crystals to hang from our rear view mirrors? Is "REAL" about seeing the faults, accepting the pain, growing from it and moving on WITH these people, not away from them... cause they're really on the same journey you are? And when do you cry - enough is enough?