( No drawing, sick. )
I’ve wanted to write about friendship for a good long time but I’ve been stuck with it. All I can think of it oh wow my friends are really awesome and you know, that’s sufficient for a facebook status or a tweet – not so much for a blog post.
So I’ve been thinking on it for weeks and this morning I had one of those very clear memories pop into my mind – It’s morning and we’ve arrived at Primary School. I’m running in circles around a bench my mum sits on, I’m running over the hop scotch and other games painted in whites and yellows on the asphalt and looking up at a pretty brilliant morning sky. With all the clouds and sun light and blues and pinks and I’m believing in God at this point ( this is before I know about Religion ) because I draw a lot of strength thinking that there’s someone looking over me and there’s a place I am going to and I’m asking him to take my life and take me away from here because I’m desperate. My friend has just arrived and I’m sure we look happy – like little girls do – but when my Mum goes I know the teasing will start, I know this little girl will hurt me and make me feel bad in places I never knew I could feel such things and I can’t tell my mum. She’s sitting right there but feels so far away from me.
Which is probably where my need to talk truthfully comes from, because that place of not telling and suffering didn’t need to happen. I didn’t need to feel so physically horrible within my own skin, so sad and alone and I certainly didn’t need to wish for death over talking about a secret. My secret.
In silence, we suffer.
As an adult and knowing children I now can look back at this and think what happened to my friend to make her hurt and abuse me in the ways that she did? She was so cruel to me, why? I wish I could have helped her.
When I left that Primary school and her behind I walked straight into other friendships that saw me being bullied – I was taunted for being ugly, I had heavy toys thrown at my face at close range, my hair pulled, I was ridiculed for my spelling, my imagination – my drawing. I was called a slut and made to feel I couldn’t feel things for people I wanted to feel them for – I wasn’t allowed to date the boys I wanted to but rather the boys that they wanted me to. And then in my teenage years I lived with someone who took all of my money, dyed my hair blonde and made plans to change my name and birthdate. She did take me away from another kind of abuse but it was a trade off. It came with a very high price.
There was something always so wrong with me people had to beat, hurt, pull apart whatever it was that I was. They wanted to erase me – kill me – turn me into something that they would like.
And then somehow when I cry about all of this at the age of thirty, I receive comfort from a man who loves me – who is also my friend – and a daughter we made. How did I get here?
Friendship has never been something I felt I could have without all the hurt and suffering. In my early twenties I spent my time with people who exhausted me – and I them. We made each other feel terrible, we lied, we bitched, we dated the same boys and whoever got in first used that as a device to one up the other girl. We never gave each other a chance and used silence as a weapon. The ultimate weapon – we punished each other with it. Somehow, this is the situation that I played over and over in my head and I think it is because it’s easier to think about than all the stuff that happened long ago.
When I came back to Melbourne I came back for family. Family and language. I didn’t really think about friendships and I when I did it was in that anxious way – will I go back to all these bad patterns? But the biggest surprise has been the friendships I have made since being back and one that was re-kindled.
I have friends who never sit and bitch – we talk. I have friends who I am confident won’t go away and share what I confide in them, who don’t need me to have a status or be anything other than who I am. Even if the who I am is a premenstrual, sleep deprived mess – somehow I am good enough. I have friends who bring me over groceries when I can’t do them and have come in to physically take me out of a space when they see that I am unraveling. I have friends who love my daughter and give her their time and influence and I don’t think anything has warmed my heart as much as witnessing this.
I don’t know how I found these people, what drew them to me but I finally feel like I see the true meaning and value of friendship and it often leaves me speechless.
In that really happy way.