Wednesday, August 8, 2012
“You have too many goddamn friends!” my best one exclaimed once, back when we were first getting to know each other. I was telling some story or another and mentioned probably “my friend Sarah” (of which I have several) and she got confused on who in the hell THIS random person was coming from the woodwork, and shook her head before making that declaration. She herself isn’t one to need many friends – she’s someone who would rather have one or two really close friends, and the rest acquaintances, to have her needs met.
I’m somewhat like that—I, of course, have friends who hold a closer place in my heart than others. But, I do have a lot of goddamn friends that I rely on pretty heavily for emotional support. Part of that comes from being single, and part of it comes from just who I am naturally. I have a big family; I’m used to a big community of support. I’m used to a wide range of personalities, and I need to be able to pick up the phone and know without a doubt that I will at least find someone to chat with me about trivial things, or remind me that I’m loved. For some reason, I forget this fact time and time again, and become wide-eyed panicked that I’m alone in the world.
This same friend became engaged a few weeks ago. Many (most?) of my friends are married. I’ve managed to keep some, and I’ve lost an equal number of them to that hallowed institution. My physical distance from them certainly plays a role in the losses, but still, they no longer need to tell me something funny about their day or rely on me when something big happens. They have spouses to do this, and I’m delegated to “I’ll call her this weekend/next week/next month/next year” and boom – I haven’t spoken to my college roommate in years. I haven’t spoken to my post-college roommates in years.
The circumstances for my best friend, S, becoming engaged are murky. I became friends with her when she was in her last marriage, and I was the sole confidante when it began to fall apart. It was incredibly difficult on me, partly because I was so young (about 26 at the time) and I just simply had no idea what to say/do, etc. I haven’t been married. I don’t have kids – she has teenagers, now adult kids. It was, as I told her once, above my pay grade. During all this tangle, her and I got tangled in a close friendship that bordered on desperation at times because we both had such monumental changes happening in our lives, and we felt that the other was the proverbial raft from our own sinking boats. The immediate aftermath of her divorce came my move back to DC, and here we are.
I continue to struggle very, very much with her relationship with this man. On the one hand—she’s my best friend. Of course I want her to be happy. On the other hand, I feel uneasy and strange around the guy she is marrying, and there are certain behaviors he’s exhibited that lead me to think that this is NOT a good man. However, she’s agreed to marry him. I have no doubt that she will, and that she wants this to happen.
It bothers me so much that I am bothered so much by this. It is in equal parts selfish and worry that make me uneasy. Worry for her about a potentially bad situation down the road, and selfish on my part because I want to stay the most special. I don’t have anyone declaring me most special, and we fulfilled that role for each other for a long time. We sign off every text message with some variation of “Top of List” because we are the top of the top for one another. I have never doubted her deep love and caring for me, and I’ve hands down never had a friend love me unconditionally as much as she does. That’s not to insult my other friendships, but S takes me simply as I am. She never tries to change me as some friends do, and constantly tells me I am gorgeous and brilliant (her words, not mine) and that I am perfect to her. We curl into each other like sisters when we sleep – to say we’re close is an understatement.
The series of posts by Heather Spohr at the Spohrs are Multiplying this week have really hit me hard. If you’re not familiar with Heather (and I believe my few readers are), Heather lost her toddler daughter unexpectedly following what was a simple cold, lost her aunt soon after, has dealt with a miscarriage this year and this week, her very best friend Jackie, died of a brain tumor. These are powerful pieces of writing, and have resonated with me this week.
I wept in the car after S told me she was engaged. I pulled over in front of my old apartment because I didn’t know where else to go and just cried. Cried for how empty my life sometimes feels, cried for how much I thought I was losing my best friend.
But reading Heather's posts smacked me in the face that no, I am not. I can still pick up the phone with my best friend, and tell her I love her. I can have a close loving relationship with her, for the rest of my life, if I choose to do so. There was a time when I thought there was no WAY I would coexist in her world if that man did as well. But, that’s childish and petty and makes me into someone I’m not very proud to be. I have to fight, hard, to keep myself from falling into my inherited genetic trait of grudge holding, bitterness and meanness. I feel those feelings rising up in my throat sometimes and I have to actively push them down and say that I am better than that. I won’t go there. I won’t be THAT mean, bitter person who feels it’s either her way or the highway.
S wants to choose a path I wouldn’t take, and right now, it’s my job only to love her and let her love me back and try to focus on the fact that my life—MY life—is still wide open and in front of me, ready for what may come.