it's been hard, like i mentioned, to think about doing this. what order will i go in? what format will i write in? will what i have to say do justice to the deep gratitude i have for these people? will they receive it as the gift it is intended to be?
(answers--i wish there were some way to write this upside down... i'd totally do it: whatever order feels right, whatever format feels right, maybe-maybe not, again maybe-maybe not)
there never are any decent answers to the questions i have about life. i should start asking new questions... or maybe just one question: should i do this?
and the answer, this time: yes.
i don't have a lot of "old friends." i went to three different elementary schools and by the time i got to middle school i was in a different one from my latest elementary school friends (i'm pretty sure i chose this for myself too... what was that about?). for the first three years of high school i was in band, and then the last year i wasn't. there has never been a group of people (that tribe i long for...) that i've stuck with long enough to claim them as lifelong friends. thanks to facebook i am certainly "friends" with many of these folks, but we aren't exactly in each other's lives.
|what an angry wombat looks like... in case you're wondering|
we met shortly after i started dating bfo when we both started working for an agency that provided a day program/employment experience for adults with developmental disabilities. we bonded over our love for our "consumers" (is what we called them then... sigh) and became fast friends. our relationship was inconsistent at first, after we stopped working together we grew apart a bit. we wouldn't talk for weeks, or even months, but then would reconnect and would be attached at the hip again. the disconnections felt odd for me... i'm big on connecting and hadn't yet learned that people can go away and still be connected to you... but the reconnections were worth it so i stayed in it.
Wombat was unlike anyone I had ever known... she had a mean streak in her that scared the daylights out of me. i was never really privvy to it, but i could just tell... she was a volcano. she hid her eruptions from me for years, though... still, i knew.
over the years she became my best friend. at first that felt silly. do women in their 20s really have "best friends"? all the "best friends" i had in life previously weren't my friends at all anymore... did i want to apply that kiss of death to this friendship too? i didn't really have a say in the matter--she was my best friend. i could say anything to her and she would hear me, validate my experience, and come back for more. it was mind blowing. all of the parts of me that i felt were shameful, or that i hid from people... all of my deepest darkest thoughts were revealed to her and she didn't blink.
in each other we found a friend who treated us the way we actually deserved to be treated--someone who showed up, who accepted whatever came up unconditionally, and then showed up again.
there were times in our relationship where i didn't value her as much as i should. i took advantage of the fact that she would always show up for me. i was distracted by trying to attract other friends or lovers... and she never went anywhere. in my selfishness i saw her, and felt her right by my side. choosing to accept wombat's love is one of the best choices i ever made.
the principles of motivational interviewing teach us (taught me) that the most effective way to help someone change is to love and accept them for who they are NOW. Wombat is never in judgment or criticism of me... or if she is, I don't know about it. For a few years that probably let me get away with more than I would have otherwise... she was honest with me, but she always validated my feelings. Now my relationship with her is a place where I feel safe enough to call myself on my own shit--she doesn't have to do it for me, and she will if I ask her to.
somehow over the course of the last ten years she has managed to convince me that i'm lovable. she has shown me who i really am and what i'm really capable of--and every time i forget, she reminds me. she has exposed me to some of the most powerful tools and resources i have in my life today. she has invited me into her family and allowed me to be present for her in her darkest moments; to provide her the same loving security that she gives me on a daily basis. there is nothing too dark or scary for me to tell her i'm thinking and feeling and her love doesn't waver.
i'm afraid. a lot. i'm afraid that the people who love me will change their mind... go away and never come back, and that it will be because of me... and with Wombat, I don't have that fear.
I believe that every relationship we have in this lifetime is custom designed to teach us something about ourselves.
What I've learned from loving and being loved by her: I am lovable.
my concerns about this were true... these words don't do the significance of this person's role in my life justice. i'll share it all the same though... if just one more person knows a glimmer of the gratitude i feel that's at least a glimmer to help me radiate back the brightness I feel from her every day. <3