life and friendships…

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Skip was my first friend, he was much much more than a friend though he became my better than blood brother. Our moms were pregnant with us at the same time so we were destined to be friends, even before we were born. We went to preschool together, grew up together, junior high and high school, first loves and heartbreaks, he taught me how to drive his dads car, an old Ford LTD. He tried to teach me to drive a stick, but that didn’t work out too well . When he died in 2010, I felt both sadness for me and relief for him. I watched him fade, slowly becoming a ghost, the shadow of the healthy man he was to a skeleton who cried in his hospital bed because he couldn’t eat the in-n-out burger and shake I had brought him. I remember vividly breaking down outside his room, so angry that life wasn’t fair, this was not the way our lives were supposed to turn out. We were supposed to be friends till we were old, matching rocking chairs, grumpy and cackling together. But life doesn’t give us what we want, often it just gives us what is, even when its heart wrenching, breaks us, takes away the thing or person we love the most, it sucks so bad sometimes and I still don’t have the answers. It took me almost four years to watch the DVD they gave out of him, I think part of me felt that when I finally did it would mean he was truly gone, that he would never again make me laugh so hard till I peed. I miss him when its warm at night and the sky is full of stars, when I yearn for that friend who knows you better than you know yourself, I miss him often.

I have had a thousand friendships in my life, some came and went like a cool spring breeze, others left like icy winter wind, and a select few stood the test of time and life; Solid foundations that became family. This year I have been working on letting go of  guilt, guilt of lost past friends, ones who did me wrong, or ones I had wronged in some way. I couldn’t hold onto that guilt anymore, it was heavy and I couldn’t carry it all.  I also found my tribe, the few who stood firmer than others, in my train wreck of a life here in Portland. When I was falling apart here, a few people became my rock, my strength when I had none. The day I broke and took myself to the ER, the day I call falling into the rabbit hole, I had never felt so alone in my entire life, so broken and hopeless. But a small handful of friends (and a great therapist) helped me through this dark time. I am still struggling but without the few who were honest and strong with me I would not be here, I would not have been able to get back up. Love is like that, it loves us even when we are unlovable, it gives us strength when ours is lost, it sees our truth when we lie to ourselves, it hugs us when we just cant get up and it forces us sometimes harshly to get the fuck out of bed and deal with it. I carry a small piece of each of them in my heart, and when I start to falter or shake I hear their voices pushing me on, some louder than others…

My therapist tonight looked sad as I was leaving her office. We had been talking about the pieces of myself that I had grown up learning to hate. I told her of the anxiety and guilt that I had and how so often after going out or hanging out with certain people I would go over and over in my head to make sure I didn’t offend, or talk too much or was too loud and she called that self policing. She told me these thoughts and memories of myself gave her such heaviness and such grief . That she has never seen those things in me, that instead she saw so many beautiful strong funny parts to me that I cannot see, that are instead clouded as negatives causing such sadness in me. She looked like she might cry and in that moment I was filled with such strong emotion. These were words that as I was growing up should have come out of my moms mouth. We should all be told we are special and unique and beautiful. I cant even imagine the kind of person I would have become if I had been told differently growing up. I am proud of who I am, but imagine the strength if I had been taught to love myself instead of hating. For me as a teenager these words instead came from the mouth of my friend Lisa’s mom, Patti P!! She always made me feel special for my “personality”.  I will forever cherish that, being loved for who I was, wholeheartedly. I hope that every little girl has a Patti P in her life, that when she is called bossy, intense, loud, or talkative, that there will be another to instead call her strong and passionate and tell her she has depth and to be proud of these qualities. If we were all told to love ourselves from a young age, imagine how the world would be…

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