When we were younger friendship was an ever evolving and changing thing. One day you were best of friends with people and the next day you were enemies. Give it a week or two and you were friends again. As we grow older our ability to change our friends on a weekly basis gets a little harder. I feel like I have tried on a lot of friends for size. Some of the friends I have tried on and lost because of my inability to bond with the person. Others I have tried on and lost because of their inability to bond. As I sit here at my polished age, I am starting to ask a lot of questions about friendship. Do I truly have any friends? Do I have one person that I can call up and tell them EVERYTHING that is going on in my life and know they have my back? And can I be that type of friend to another person?
I can truly say that I have a couple good friends in my life. It took me moving to England to pursue a stupid, financially, devastating dream to realize that I had everything that I needed right where I had been living. I realized what was over here was the worst situation in the world to ever pursue. I will be forever grateful to the indifference and rudeness of the person who helped me realize that my life was filled with love, family, and friendship already. Two very dear people passed away two years ago and they both told me that what I came here seeking, I did not need. I did not, could not, would not, believe them. I guess some lessons need to be learned by experience.
I came to London looking for something, for someone and she was not someone from my childhood. I have to tell you that I don’t have one friend from my childhood, my teenage years or my young adult years. I don’t have one relative that I talk to on a regular basis. I don’t have any siblings that are remotely interested in me. It is not that I am a bad person; it is just how life turned out. In the past, I would look on my Facebook page often and see people with their ‘girl’s night out’ and think “What is wrong with me?”. Why don’t I have bonds with a bunch of gals like that? Where is my ‘girl’s night out’?.
The truth is I think I had always approached friendship the wrong way. For example, I always wanted to hide who I was from my friends. One cannot truly be a friend to/or with someone if they hide who they are or invent someone that they think others would like better. I had to figure out where that came from and why I felt that I was not good enough for other people. When did I start to feel the need to re-invent me? I remember growing up in my small country town when I was younger, I did not think anything of my life. I lived with my grandparents and they were good to me. There were things about my life that was different sure, like the fact that we did not have a bathroom in our house. But I was clean, healthy and happy. My grandmother made sure that I felt good about myself.
I remember one day going out to play and a cousin, one of my grandmother’s brother’s kids, was out with her cousins that lived near me and she started to make fun of my life. They laughed at me because my mother had left me to live with my grandparents, we did not have an indoor bathroom and my grandmother was kind to this gentleman that was mentally challenged. She would always have him sit on our porch, I will never forget that. A few days later, she apologized to me but that forever changed my world. I often wonder why it changed my world as much as it did. But I think at that moment I felt the need to reinvent myself. I did not want to be the “bastard” child with no mother, no bathroom, and a grandmother who was kind to everyone. I, all of a sudden, felt ashamed of who I was and I wanted to be someone else. As time went on, I am not sure that my life got any better, I will still the bastard child and my self-esteem went down from there.
From that moment on I wanted to be better than I imagined I was. So I started to re-invent me (lie about me). Over the years, I have reinvented myself into some really important people without putting in the effort to accomplish the goals. Then a friend had an invention with me, I was a little slow so it took me a couple of years to get it. My friend told me “I don’t care whether you were homeless most of your life, your prior professional was that of a call girl, or you were the mayor of New York City, what I do care about is you. And I feel like I care about a person that I don’t really know. So I am in a weird place, I don’t want to lose you but I have to let you go if I cannot meet the real you.” In true me fashion, I thought well he can go to you know where. So a week went by and I did not have him to talk to, listen to my bull whether made up or real, laugh with, or discuss my fears. I started to feel sad. This was the first that I was confronted and I had to make a choice. Do I stick around and take a chance? Do I tell the him that I am a poor girl who grew up in the country, I have had old men try to turn me, we did not have a bathroom in our house, people made fun of me including my family so I just did not want to be me anymore? I often wished that I had a different family, I was a different race. I often wished, well I often wished I did not exist so that I did not have to feel like I was a nobody in the sea of this huge family. I often wished that I was someone else so I just decided to make up a new me so that I did not have to be alone in that world. In my made up world:
- My mother loved me. She did not avoid me. Talk about me. Tell people lies about me. She did not wish that I was never born and call me names. She did not make me sit and watch my sibling open gifts and give me nothing.
- We had a bathroom in our house. My grandmother did not drink all of the money away and she spent time with the family.
- My cousin did not make fun of me, call me names, watch me get beat up and bullied while laughing.
- I had a birthday party when I was a child.
- My mother did not give me three or four dads.
- I did not move to England to find a long lost sister to realize she did not really want to be my sister at all.
- I matter too, I matter to someone.
- I am not scared that no one loves me.
In my world, I am ok.
Here is the thing about friendship, I have admitted all of this to a friend and that friend is still there. The friend did not care how I got my degree, how much money I make or where I came from but appreciated the honesty and trust I gave by telling him the truth. So what have I learned about friendship? It is about letting the other person see 100% of who you are without fear because a true friend will be there no matter what!
I will admit carrying my secret was a hard burden, there were times when I wanted to love or just tell someone something awful that had happened but I needed to keep it to myself. I could not tell people what was going on because it did not fit within my false reality of who I was. While my created world was much prettier on the outside, it was like shackles around my ankles and chains around my arms and neck. I was a prisoner in the world that I created. But I was in so deep, I never thought that I could go back. So if someone is reading this and can relate, if you are chained in your made up world, take a chance and give someone the real you. You might get as lucky as I have and have someone intervene , being lonely in a made up world is much worse than being honest about things that you probably had no control over in the first place.