Not long ago I was feeling oddly sad for no apparent reason. No, not sad…I don’t have a word for how I felt…blank? Hollow? I was drained physically and my thoughts were jumbled and confused. A week before, I had been in an unusually happy mood and nothing had changed; I was at a loss to explain or understand this sudden shift.
I had planned on calling a friend of mine that evening, but I was having second thoughts. I don’t want to be a downer, I thought, I shouldn’t inflict this weird mood on her.
I almost didn’t call. My instinct when confronted with unfamiliar feelings is to retreat, withdraw, pull back…I held the phone in my hand for a long time, pondering this.
Finally, I made the call, dialing one of the four numbers on my speed dial. My friend answered. She listened as I mumbled and stumbled my way through an attempt to explain what I didn’t understand…I have blown it, I thought, I should have kept this feeling to myself.
I can be remarkably stupid.
Instead of rejection, my friend offered compassion, caring and wisdom. It’s important, she said, to talk about your feelings, good or bad. She wanted me to open up. By fighting my instinct and making that call, I had done the right thing without even knowing it. Tears filled my eyes as I listened to this very important lesson. Tears, but not of sorrow.
To most people, it might seem obvious that it is important to talk about our feelings with the people we care about- but I’m not most people. I’m a recovering alcoholic and I spent the last few years of my drinking career learning how to blot out everything in my world. I was on a quest for the perfect numbness and I found it in the emergency room of a local hospital, nearly three years past.
I had to make a choice: Live or die. I chose to live, and so I did.
But that was only the beginning. During my binge-drinking years, I lost something crucial- or maybe I never had it- in any case, I have been slowly, (sometimes joyfully, sometimes not), slowly adjusting to experiencing emotions and there seems to be no end to the scars, wounds and skeletons that are surfacing. It can be terribly overwhelming.
My friend understands this, perhaps better than anyone I have talked with. She is no stranger to surviving and the aftermath of survival, her strength has been an anchor for me during some very trying times, her perspective and insights have been invaluable in ways I admittedly do not fully comprehend. To me, there are elements in her that seem almost magical; elements that make me want to put aside my fears, to be a fully-realized human being.
In the year and a half since an extremely intrusive and wholly unwelcome fellow blogger inadvertently led us into becoming steady pen pals, we have been sharing more and more of ourselves with each other; during my grandmother’s long and excruciatingly painful death, my friend became an integral part of my support system and has been there ever since. It was a heavy load and she accepted it without complaint…in fact, it seemed so natural that only now, months later, do I realize what an important gift she was giving me, only now am I starting to understand that I, in turn, am learning how to return the simple, priceless human gift of love.
In the months following my grandmother’s death, the communication between my friend and me gradually went from containing the occasional flirty moment to becoming decidedly seductive. I’ll spare you the details…as my friend says on her blog, if I had witnessed two of my friends carrying on like my friend and I have been doing, I’d be embarrassed for them.
In a matter of hours I will be on the road and my friend’s home will be my destination. I long to hold her, to…
Beyond the immediate, neither one of us knows what will happen next… we have talked at length about what is important to us and we agree that our friendship must be preserved before all else, but we have allowed for the possibility that something greater may arise. I didn’t think I was capable of the necessary intimacy to discuss these things in a frank and forthright manner, but my friend has a way of bringing out the good in me without my immediate notice. Our relationship is natural, comfortable and reassuring- it has been effecting a slow, positive but gradual change in both of us, I think. I am not one to put much stock in fate or pre-destination, but in this case it seems as if we are being drawn together for our mutual benefit and well-being.
She wants me to come to her and so I shall, because I desperately want to be with her. As I write this, I am still in somewhat of a funk, but when I think of the friend that awaits me, I feel a spark of life, something stirs inside me and that something is good. It’s something I wanted but didn’t know how to look for and it turns out that I didn’t have to- it found me. It found us and we aren’t questioning it, we are accepting it and, in turn, accepting each other.
That is what friends are for.