The hypothesis: If I am exactly myself, I will have deeper relationships with others.
We haven’t spoken much at all over the past year. I was so hurt, so angry, so…everything. I could easily tell you all of the reasons I was upset with you and it is certainly possible that many of them would be understandable, justified. But a year later, it doesn’t matter, at least not in the same way. A year later, I have been given the gift of learning to look at my part and realize that while I was so busy being hurt and angry and judgmental of who I thought you should be TO ME, I didn’t for one minute consider that maybe you were hurting too. Maybe I hadn’t been such a good friend TO YOU.
When we met, I knew I liked you and wanted to be friends with you. I liked your no-nonsense approach to life and you seemed so confident and comfortable with yourself. I come off similarly, but mine is really just a window dressing. I don’t want anyone to see the damaged parts, the parts that have cracks or scars, the parts that don’t fit. I don’t like feeling vulnerable and exposed like that. So I make jokes, I distract you with my shiny bits so you will like me.
You will like me, but you will not know me.
With you, I thought maybe it could be different. I was lonely and depressed and overwhelmed with two kids and a life that didn’t fit me well. I had kept it held together with baking, TV and wine, but just barely. You let me see the scars from the first time we spoke and I admired that about you. For the first time, I thought that maybe I could do that too. Maybe we’d become REAL friends, like ‘girls weekend’, crying on doorsteps, watching your kids last minute, dancing drunk in the living room friends. Friendships I had seen on TV, that I admired from afar but had never fully realized. Why not, I thought, what have I got to lose?
No one told me, however, that my cracks and scars would be deep. I didn’t know that we would each go through things that were bigger than we could handle and that we would not be able to help each other through. I didn’t know that the hard times people describe hurt so bad. I didn’t know that my feelings were so raw and naked that I was incapable of being the person I wanted, I could only be the person I was. And that person wasn’t my best self, by the way, but it was authentically me. And my best version of self-care was to isolate and shut down and run away. I convinced myself that my hypothesis had not been true. I decided that I was not capable of deep relationships with others. At least that was what I thought.
I was wrong.
Shortly after the last time we saw each other, I found myself in a place of such sadness, such desperation- such brokenness. I recognized, and was willing to admit that my life, as I was living it, was unmanageable. I had started and stopped and started and stopped my own plans time and again and while I did see progress, I continually ended up more broken than the time before. My best was no longer shiny and so I got on my knees and begged G-d to help me.
Much of what happened after that is another story and something I am working on every day. What is important to say here is that I unknowingly started experimenting with my hypothesis again. Practicing, in small ways, being 100% myself. Not starting with the jokes each time, taking a risk and walking out of the house with a scar or two showing. And one day, I looked around and saw new, authentic buds of friendship growing all around me. I thought of you. Instead of feelings of hurt, I just missed you. I looked critically at what had happened (by my own account) and asked what my part was. I opened my heart to the idea of being sorry instead of closing it off with feelings of resentment and suddenly we were in touch. Our children kept asking to see each other, telling us that they missed playing together and finally, we were ready to make it happen.
This morning, I received a beautiful link to your artist homepage. I cried. For a moment, I thought that in spite of my scars and cracks and mistakes, we will continue to be friends. I am reminded of my hypothesis and smile.