When I was young (and clueless), my selection of friends required that the applicants tick every box on the Application Form. All boxes not ticked….move on to the next Application…..beat it sista!! So, as you can imagine, my friend selection criteria was incredibly harsh, but what else could a perfect person such as myself do?? Surely I could not have been expected to have befriended less than perfect people??
Anyway, you will be shocked to note, that I never actually found anyone who I considered “perfect” in the application process, but found a handful of ”as near as dammit” people. And so my few years of friend selections were fleeting. I say fleeting, because when I met my future husband at 16…well…I will get to that shortly.
The friends that have been in my life have been aligned to the three distinct chapters in my life (with other fuzzy chapters in between). There was Chapter 1, from birth to 16 years old (of which I remember next to nothing….snatches at best, and then meeting my husband at 16). Now, my husband, bless his cotton socks, was not a man who liked to socialize a lot….or at all for that matter. So I had my carefully selected ”as near as dammit” handful of friends by that stage, and they slotted in with my next chapter…obviously….otherwise it would have meant that there was a glitch in my selection process. But I was not releasing any new Applications for Friendship.
Now, one such friend, was a girl who was not connected to the others at all. She wasn’t a school friend or a social friend. She was kinda “my friend” as opposed to “our friend”. She was way more ‘’Namaste’’ than me. So, actually I loved her ‘’Namaste-ness’’, as it soothed my soul and calmed my ticks!! When she told me a thousand years ago, that she was emigrating to Canada, I was broken. I started distancing myself from her (for my own protection….as I do), and then she was gone. She made a significant comeback towards the end of Chapter Three, as will be dealt with in my next post.
Enter Chapter Two…..as far as friends go….totally uneventful. I still dabbled with Chapter One’s friends (other than the one that had THE AUDACITY to leave me high and dry, taking her ‘’Namaste-ness’’ with her). When my oldest child started school, I met a ”what’s her name” and a ”what’s her face” through our kids here and there, but honestly, I was still working full time, and my husband had still not felt any desire to do much socialising, so the friend application process was suspended until further notice.
The one ”what’s her name” was very special. Our sons developed a close bond, and she too was the most like me of all the ”what’s their faces”. She was so special, comforting, gentle, funny…..really funny…but quietly, in a ladylike and tactful manner! She just had this ability to take you under her wing, and make you feel safe. She became my new ‘’Namaste’’, and I kind of felt (as I still do), that we were destined to be friends.
There were just such notable instances over the years that made me feel that even if we lived on different sides of the world, we would have connected at some stage. Having said that, she is always on the bloody other side of the world, but comes home in between.
She too did not escape the process of me protecting myself emotionally, and distancing myself from her. Geeeez…aren’t you guys starting to regret not being one of my friends??? You too could be cut off emotionally by me in a heartbeat!!! That after having to endure the grueling application process to boot!
But this friend, even when she was on different sides of the world, would be such a comfort and presence in my chapters. She was and will always be ‘’my person’’ In fact, I considered her whole special family “my people”….still do….To be fair, I was blessed to have few of those…still have! However, ”my person” rose to the occasion every time.
Chapter three….my claim to fame….became a widow, and the ”what’s their names” and ”what’s their faces” all flooded to my side. They provided unbelievable emotional support. I felt as if they had physically lifted me up, and carried me through an emotionally trying chapter. I even started referring to them by their names!! They were each completely different people. There was very little any of us had in common, other than the fact that we were mothers, trying to get through mothering. Some came, some left…but the OGs were, and still are a very special source of friendship and therapy.
Of course, I also still had my Chapter One’s, who were totally part of my support system. They knew me from before I met my husband, knew my husband from the day I met him, knew us as a couple and our lives together. Some of the Chapter Threes had never even met my husband.
It was during Chapter Three (rather late than never), that I realised not all boxes need to be ticked in the friend application process. No, each person gives you something the other cannot. I had the sister, the friend, the confidante, the advisor, the grounder, and “my person”. AND, I still had my Chapter One’s. So I was one lucky somebody.
But because the Chapter Threes were so present and supportive during this time, I almost felt like they had been through this turmoil with me. Like they understood and accepted, when over time I changed in so many ways. Not by choice mind you. But when I went from being a fairly ‘’Namaste-ish’’, just wanting peace, love and happiness while I fulfil the role of wife and mother type of a gal, to becoming the sole supporter, nurturer, decision maker, stresser, neurotic, maladjusted, hardened, intolerant, and yes (as ‘my person’ so graciously slipped out once) INTOLERABLE wretch, I might have been expecting too much from my Chapter Threes to understand and accept this about me.
Over the last couple of years, I have realised how different our priorities are, how differently we see and do things and how different our lives are. All totally understandable mind you, but I just subconsciously assumed they got that. Not sure that this was totally fair to them…just was what it was….in fact is what it is. Unlike the Chapter One’s, they had no, or very little knowledge of me as a person before I lost my husband. So, although I was no placid Princess before, I certainly was not as bitter and twisted as I have become!!
This point was so totally brought home to me a few weeks ago, when My Chapter One ”deserter” needed to come back during COVID for a family situation, and I realized the privilege of having friends from the days of yore in your life.
However, once again, I have waffled away on the one topic, and will have to discuss this lesson in my next blog.
But for now, I feel, it is the beginning of Chapter Four, which is perhaps going to be a merging of all my Chapter Ones, Twos and Threes. Perhaps (which I think everyone who reaches a certain age evolves into), the checklist in the Friend Application needs to be amended to the Friend Retention checklist, and perhaps more stringent requirements in the Application process need to make a comeback.
Click this link to apply………………….