Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfluffle here on the ol’ blog. Decided to delete it and turn off comments since the kerflufle stuff was counterproductive. While I love discourse, debate, and even sometimes, disagreement, the rule that has always existed here is that under no circumstances is it going to be acceptable to turn a discussion into a personal confrontation from commentators regarding the progress of my journey from a psychological standpoint. I’ve made this very, very clear. For one thing, this is a sacred and safe place for me to talk about whatever is on my mind that day. Start to dissect me and my beliefs and you destroy my safe place. Secondly, with rare exception, the folks who read this blog are not friends.
While we might be amiable in this amazing virtual world, it must be understood that what I write here is biased, edited, condensed, and only just the teeniest window into my life. You don’t know me. Anyone assuming they know me intimately based on my writings here is making a grave error. I deliberately leave things out for brevity at the very least. As most of you are aware, I can be long winded in my attempt to get my points across but in no way does that mean that you get all the details. I try but come on. Accept that you get about 40%. Put yourself in my shoes and hopefully you will rapidly see that if anyone judged you based on your own posts, you would be hard pressed to agree that they ever could possibly know who you are. It’s hard enough to really know someone you see in person every week over the course of years.
When I was in treatment one of the counselors asked us this question. “How many people have to tell you that you have a tail before you will turn around and look. If you were wearing white pants and someone told you that you had chocolate on your butt, you’d look. You wouldn’t wait for a second person to comment.” She went on to say that if it is at all unbelievable, how many people have to mention it before you check. So. When someone commented that because of my disagreement with her and my disagreement with my ex-friend R, perhaps I am the problem. Whoa. First of all, the commentor doesn’t know me. She has no idea what the issue really was between me and R. I’ve written a total of two paragraphs about what happened between us. The commenter also put me in a box, said I was in the classic middle stage something or other and not as far along as I thought.
Oh, no you din’t just go there. I kicked R’s ass about a year a go for going there, putting me in a little box. And she at least had been to my home and broke bread with me.
I admire this woman as an artist, I enjoy her blog, and I’m assuming she is at least a fairly regular reader of my blog and that she is so because she enjoys mine. But we are not friends. Acquaintances is the furthest I would venture to put the relationship but it would be on the outer spectrum. I would not spend money on airfare to meet her in person. I would not drive for hours to help her at 3am. Nothing personal but get in line. I would not give her my phone number. We are not friends, we are amiable mutual internet fans (well we were don’t know where this is now). She is not a psychoanalyst or if she is, she is not MY psychoanalyst (and you should know I don’t have the highest opinion of this professional field, they love to put people in little tight boxes) . She is not a confidante. It was astonishing. She thought I was upset because I thought she was writing in anger or arrogance. Oh no. Her emotions had nothing to do with. No one puts baby in the corner. She was trying to be kind, to help me. She wished me all the best. I won’t print what I said to that one. How patronizing can one be? She meant well I’m certain of it. But boy howdy she couldn’t have been further off the mark if she tried.
I’m sorry but there it is. Folks who spend time on the internet have a tendency to jump to intimacy very quickly. They have a tendency to believe everything they read and make snap judgments. There are all kinds of pitfalls that await you regarding internet communication. But most folks fail to see that it is not the whole of reality in any way. Even blogs written by the folks living the life they are writing about can never ever give an accurate snapshot of their own life. It is a vicarious pleasure but in no way does it reflect Truth.
Even so, I did have to look and see if I had a tail. It occured to me after some thought that one of the reasons this person might think that I have a frequently recurring problem with my friends might stem from the fact that I typically only write about the ones I’m having difficulty with. And what a disservice that is to all the wonderful people in my life. I have completely left out this very important, completely essential part of my life. And I decided to take a quickie inventory on my friends and relationships.
My first sponsor told me that alcoholics tend to go from stranger to most intimate acquaintance in minutes. And this is not the most appropriate way to create relationships. She described the relationship spectrum as mirroring the ripples on a pond when you throw in a rock. Strangers are past the outer rings and intimate lovers/spouses are on the inner most ring. There are folks who are randomly placed on the other rings. This person you go to dinner with once a year, this person once a month. This person you take a walk with once a week. This person you say hi to when you run into them and express pleasure they are doing well. There are so many rings, so many places where folks can fall in the spectrum.
R was on the second to the outer ring at the time of her business proposal to me. I had recently ended my friendship with the woman who I saw every week and when R and I started meeting every week it felt good. I had missed having a girlfriend. We had some good times, no doubt about it. But there were severe disconnects between us. She really did belong on the second to the outer ring. That is not a commentary on her worth as a person, just on her role in my life and mine in hers. She is now nowhere on the rings at all. Sad.
The Forgiven is as far to the outer rings as I can get him. Every once in awhile he writes me these warm fuzzy emails and I reply politely and with kindness. But I don’t want to be his friend. I see him occasionally at events but he has personal hygiene challenges and I don’t want to hug him. It’s gotten pretty bad. But he’s no enemy. He’s just someone I choose to love from afar.
And that’s it. In the past 15 years, I’ve ended three relationships. In my lifetime, perhaps 6. With the exception of The Forgiven, I am not including most sexual relationships in this number as that is another can of worms entirely. One because of their constant tendency to box me in and the other two because they betrayed me. These are the two major themes of my life. Don’t betray me or label me and we’ll get along just fine. Everyone gets to label me once and be forgiven, but make a habit of it and I’m kicking you to the curb. Most folks that are no longer here simply drifted away in other directions. It wasn’t personal.
Now, the good stuff. FRIENDS. Real. Friends. I got really grateful last night when I realized not only how many friends are in my life but how long so many of them have been there.
I’ve been friends with the following folks for 3-25+ years, a dozen for 20 years. We don’t see each other all the time due to distance and life but many of these folks I would help at 3am and I believe would help me at 3am. These people loved me during my using days and still love me now. Some of these folks have known me only in sobriety and are in recovery with me. I love them because they ARE my life. Some of these folks are in my coven or I know through the Craft. But in this entire list of friends, there are only perhaps 4 that I’ve had a true disagreement with (and two of them were lovers parting ways) but we patched it up. Some are the wives of ex boyfriends, one of them was the wife before and after me. None of these people have put me in a corner or betrayed me. I’m assuming that because they still talk to me that I have not done those things to them either.
Much love and thanks to the following wonderful folks and in no particular order of importance
Ryco and Stef, Rick, Candice, Terry, Dave and Tam, Darlene, Jan, Greg, Miss Nettie, Andrine, Steve, Amy, Beth, Bob, Pam, Jerry, Michelle, Rob, Russell, Julia, Chris, Scott and Jennie, Brian, Carmen, Warren, Janet, Cathy, Chuck, Dan, Darren, Erik and Susan, Jay, Leslie, JT, Nancy, Gordon, Tink, Johanna and Henrik, Kathie, Ray, Sheri, Stu, Brooke, Susan, Veronica, Ruth, Marilyn and Gary, David, MaryAnn, Leslie, Gary, Gary, Lonn, Karen, Gordon 2, Tracy, Leon, Lance, Anna, Alicia, Mike, Mike, John, Vivian, Jeff. Last but not least, Mom and Dad and cousins, Naomi and Jon and Unca Will.
Okay enough. I can probably think of more. These are the people who have my back. They do not include the happy acquaintances that I run into on a regular basis and catch up with. My life is rich with many, many friends.
The Who sang a song long years ago, _How Many Friends Have I Really Got, I Can Count ‘Em On One Hand_. I don’t have enough hands to count my friends. Nor feet.
Thank you all for loving me until I could love myself. For being such wonderful, creative, amazing, interesting, loving friends. I don’t let you know enough how much I appreciate your presence in my life. May the Lady and the Lord bless you for you are not only Legion, you are Stellar.
Et Voila! I conclude that I do not have a tail. What I have today is discernment. And a right to have boundaries. Do not betray me or box me in or label me and we will get along just fine. My friends, the ones who I think know me? The minute they come to me to tell me that I have a tail, I will totally look. But if you aren’t a friend? Don’t even bother.
Tonight is Friday night. My favorite night of the week. Tonight I see many of the folks on the list (last night I saw several more). We get to laugh and talk and eat and create a ruckus at the local Italian joint that loves us just as we are, warts and all.