I was raised by a narcissist so my mechanism for intimacy is broken. Or at least sprained.
I don’t make friends easily. I have a lot of people who I enjoy being with, but it’s rare that I consider a person a friend. At least, this is what I’ve been telling myself for years.
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had friends. I loved these people. I loved these people in a way that comforted me. I got love and acceptance that was foreign to me and I cherished them. I wasn’t afraid they would hurt me, or twist my love into a weapon to use against me.
I dated a boy throughout my teens who was mean to me. I won’t go into details, but it was dysfunctional, ugly and sometimes brutal. I met these friends, who I loved, through this boy. Through him, I found a group of people who would be my family. Different people drifted in and out through the years and they were accepted, but the core group was the same 8 people.
I suffer no delusions that any of them have spared me a second thought, but I remember them well. And young.
For 5 years, I spent most of my free time with these people. At one point, the guys in the group got together and staged an intervention with my boyfriend. They told him to stop mistreating me. They told him that unless he stopped being cruel, they wouldn’t be his friend anymore.
He was nice for a while, but it didn’t last.
When I was 20 years old, I ended my 5 year relationship and I lost my friends. They went with him. They didn’t love me anymore. They shed me with ease. I thought we had a true friendship.
My heart shattered and I grieved for years.
Eventually, I stopped grieving and my shattered heart grew scar tissue. That scar tissue, combined with the scars that were left from my father padded my heart and muffled all the feelings.
I had friends later. Some of them were good friends, but I never let anyone get so close that I couldn’t shed them with ease. Maybe, there would be a little pain, but if I would compare the pain from walking away from later friends with my young adult friends dumping me, it would be like comparing a paper cut to a root canal.
I went through a couple husbands, and while I will contend that they certainly played their roles in the demise of our relationships, part of the issue was my inability to connect with other humans in a profound way.
Time has a way of changing things.
First, I met Randy. Our relationship should have never worked. We had many things working against us, but we are stubborn. We have so much goddamn fun together that I forgot to keep him locked out.
I learned that I could love someone who wasn’t my immediate family.
Through Randy, I got my sisters in law. I don’t include them in this post about friends. The way I feel about his sisters transcends friendship. I love them. They are my family.
Our life unfolded and I made friends again. The kind I had when I was young.
I have a friend that I walked away from, but I never let go. We used to go to New York to shop and I used her as a mattress on a bus once. She will always be my friend.
I have Priscilla, Queen of the Cubicle. We got each other through years of misery as we languished in our cubicles, and even though we don’t work together anymore, we still talk nearly every day. It’s not the same, but it’s not over, either. She will always be my friend.
I’ve known mountain girl 3 years now. There was a connection from the beginning. I remember the first time we met. Randy had done some work for her and her band. We went to see mountain girl and the bass player in Tennessee. We were going to watch their gig and had the opportunity to spend the evening in their studio and listen to them run through their set.
We were lost and mountain girl had to come and fetch us. I remember when we pulled up along side her car. She looked so put together and had the most beautiful smile. It was late already and I was tired and disheveled. As we pulled away to follow mountain girl to their studio, I looked at Randy and said “Fucking hell, Randy, she looked so good. I am a mess”,
Randy was not sympathetic to my plight. Guys just don’t get that shit.
I spent an amazing evening listening to the band play. Mountain girl and I slipped into friendship the way I slip into my old pajama pants with the monkeys on them.
I realized, recently, that when mountain girl hurts, then I feel her pain. I mean, I can’t claim to understand how she feels, but I feel pain when she feels pain. If I feel that someone has wronged her, then I am ready battle on her behalf.
I can feel bad when people I care about feel pain, I can hope that their situation improves, but mostly, I can view it as an outsider and my padding protects me from truly uncomfortable feelings. But when I care enough about another human that I have no defense against feeling real pain when they are hurting, I think that means I love them.
I actually can love other people. I have been able to for years.
I am beyond grateful for my friends. I am ready to let go of the belief that I am too broken for deep relationships. These relationships happened, right under my nose, whether I believed they could exist or not.
Decades have passed since I was abruptly dropped by people I loved. Feeling love now for other humans is worth the risk of pain. I’m not even sure when I decided that. Maybe just this moment.
I’m not sure if it means that I can love people beyond my family, or that my family has been growing.
The other cool thing about mountain girl, is that after years of hanging shit on me, she is finally going to watch Doctor Who. We’ve been negotiating this for a while. I am going to have to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it’s totally worth it even though I’ve never been interested in Star Trek.
After reading this, no way will she back out of the deal.
I’m a good friend to have. I mean that. I am loyal and low maintenance. That doesn’t mean that I’m not just a little bit evil.
I can hear mountain girl right now, she’s going to read this post and be very touched and then she will get to the Doctor Who part and say “Goddammit, Michelle.”