Christmas, a time for family, friends; it’s a time for loved ones to come together and rejoice. Rejoice in their own company and in each other’s love. Most of my life I’ve had the pleasure of such gatherings. Even when it was simply my ex-husband and myself, Doug would make sure that our time together was extra special (well, it could be argued that we each did). I lavished in the decorating of our home, making our presents (or purchasing)… But, quite honestly, making the gifts was the best part. And then the holiday would come and we would all be together.
Being married requires compromise. One year would be with my family and the other year would be with his (and so on). But with each year, it was a joy to know that I belonged. I was part of something, something bigger. Never had I thought that I would be in a position where I no longer had a family to celebrate with or a group of friends to invite or to be invited by. As you get older, life certainly has a way of changing (and not necessarily for the better).
Last week I was gearing up for a fantastic holiday – was to fly to Santa Fé and spend Christmas with my sister Elizabeth – I was thrown a curve ball as I realized life had different plans for me this Christmas. This past weekend, I was decorating and getting ready for guests that were coming for the weekend – a splendid excuse to bring out the cheer to an otherwise dreary apartment – there were a great many boxes that had to be brought down/out, opened and put away and by Saturday I woke up to some back pain that got increasingly worse by days end. Come Sunday morning, I awoke to walk my lil pup for our morning stroll and found that, not only could I only walk her a quarter of the way we usually walk, I was in tears by the time we were returning to our apartment from the pain that was generated from my back. Now I’ve had back problems before, but nothing to the degree that would bring me to tears (not even my migraines… and anyone who has had a migraine knows the severity).
So, I’ve been ‘out of commission’ for all of this week and I must say I’ve had a large dose of reality and this post was originally to be about my ‘friendless’ life and how ignored I feel (unloved, blah, blah, blah). Self-pity is not a good look for me – or anyone. But self-pity was a place I was soaring to. Until one day I heard a wrap on my door it was a police officer with a dear friend of mine who had brought over homemade chicken soup. And he was not too happy with me (my friend not the officer). There I was buck naked, standing behind the door… The officer kindly asked “are you ok, ma’am?. ” “Yes officer, I’m not dressed,” I answered. “We were WORRIED!” My friend yelled, and continued to ask that I go on Facebook to let everyone know. “I will”, I answered.
As I’ve written before, I’ve been ‘defriended’ on FB by people who I thought were close friends. One, I have no idea why and the other was over a rumor! Never being given the benefit of the doubt. And for these very people, I’ve sent cards, flowers, driven to the doctor. It’s not that I’m saying “tit for tat”; no, not by a long shot. I’m merely doing some personal inventory. This seems to be the center core of my life. I put myself out there for ‘friendships’ only to be disappointed when in need of them. I’ve always been a person to overlook their ‘short-comings’. So why is it that they seem so quick to judge my short-comings, or so quick to ignore my needs? Now, this was how I was feeling, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was. I was having myself a genuine Pity Party – “Nobody Loves me, everybody hates me; I guess I go eat worms”, do you remember that song? That was what I was singing to myself. Before yesterday. I’ve realized that I’m very rich indeed. However, rich or not, I still can’t seem to shake my fears. As much as I forgive, not so sure others do the same. They will tell me everything is fine; but I can see there is something behind the mask the hide their feelings with.
Case in point, I had what I thought was a best friend from childhood who I will refer to as Scotty. She and I had much in common and we hung out a lot in high school. Her father had given her a car for her sixteenth birthday and she and I would sneak out at night as her dad was an alcoholic as was my mother and both of our parents were exceptionally cruel to their teen-age children (us). It was wonderful to be able to escape if only for a couple of hours. We would call each other on the phone, she would come by and pick me up and we’d go down to the local Bob’s Big Boy and talk over a plate of fries and a shake. She was my BFF (or so I thought). When we graduated, she went off to San Diego State and I went to Cal Poly. I would leave on weekends to visit her in San Diego. By the end of our first year I received a call from her telling me about this guy she met (her new boyfriend). He was a “born again Christian” who advised her that she could no longer see me. We could no longer be friends (What!?). My heart was broken and I cried for weeks over the loss of my dear friend (you might as well have said she died).
Flash forward six years, by this time I had moved to the Bay Area and just happened to be at my mother’s when I received a phone call from Scotty. She (not realizing that I’d moved) wanted meet for lunch. From that point I felt that our friendship had picked up right where it left off. But after a time, I was feeling something was off. She would never come to visit, never met my husband and even if in the area, would never stop by. It took a post I wrote about my grief and my disappointment in her around the death of my sister to finally expose her truth. She told me that we never were friends; she was never able to trust me after something I supposedly said in High School! So, by this time we were in our late forties, all this ‘friendly’ behavior on her part was just a lie? No chance to explain, no chance for forgiveness? The bottom line in all of this is that she was never there for me, not really. Even when we were supposedly BFF’s. In hindsight she was only close to me to be close to my brother (who she was dating at the time). Was I so unworthy of forgiveness? The same forgiveness I’d given her? Or others? Am I truly that pathetic that I don’t deserve lifelong friendships? Friends to be with you through thick and thin; friends who accept you warts and all?
This ignites a very big fear of mine while I live alone. I could be here laying on the bathroom floor, in pain, and die and no one will notice for months! Well, maybe only weeks, but still, a REALLY LONG time. I understand that this is the life I’ve created for myself and that it is up to me to change this… It’s not too late. But this reality check has been a big one. I have friends in my home town who I barely see (maybe twice a year) and yet, when I speak of moving out of the state or county, they get their panties in a wad! Asking, “how can you think of leaving me?” Leaving you?! Where the hell have you been all this time? Phone calls go two ways. We both have one of those funny objects with numbers on it. It’s an incredible device, you punch a series of numbers and viola you have me!
So, my question remains: Am I destined to be alone? Friendless? With nobody to share my life with? It sure feels that way. Especially when I try and try. And maybe there in lies the problem. I try too hard and perhaps, unknowingly, I’ve tried to buy my friendships. Not necessarily through monetary means, but with my actions. Maybe, without being conscious of it, I have been playing a game of ‘tit for tat’. That realization makes me feel awful! These things I do know about myself: my love is unconditional, my forgiveness is poured over my friends and strangers; for I truly believe that he who is without sin, cast the first stone.
I’ve since seen the doctor and chiropractor and found that I slipped two discs (one in my lower back and one in my upper mid back). So, no travel and I’ll be out of commission for at least two weeks (what the hell?). There won’t be any Christmas spent with family and – most likely – not spent with friends. Those that haven’t judged and abandoned me, are absent. My Christmas wish for myself is that I’m able to build new friendships that are true and reciprocal. Don’t get me wrong, I love those that are in my life and count my blessings, for I am truly blessed. But, I must become that much better of a friend – one with boundaries, while at the same time, one with an open heart. Somewhere along the line I’ve hurt people, all in the name of trying to help. Whether or not my intentions were good, their feelings were hurt. But unless I can make it right with them, I can only let them go and move forward.
Christmas presents come in all shapes and sizes… we wish for so many things. For me? I wished for photos that were lost in the fire (received some from a dear friend of mine), or Christmas ornaments (received some special ones that mother made from my dear cousin), or Santa’s for my collection. But the most important gift of all doesn’t come wrapped in fancy paper, ribbons and bows; the most important of all comes in friendships and our health, for without those our lives are pretty empty. The key? Unconditional love. My hope is that I’m forgiven for all my trespasses and that I can continue to have a forgiving heart (unconditionally). Happy Holidays everyone!