Vulnerabilty and New Friends: The Struggle is Real

Sometimes it’s scary trusting new people to come into your life and not make a giant mess of things.

After being hurt, repeatedly, by people I once trusted wholeheartedly, over and over and over again this past year, I’d nearly decided to not let myself love new people. It’s like I’d put in a place a cut off date… my friendship suddenly had an expiration date of sorts. If I’d met you prior to August of 2015, the friendship was viable otherwise it was too late.

And I’d built up walls. I’d convinced myself that no one could be trusted and I needed to be careful no matter what because everyone was out to get me.

It wasn’t a fun way to live but at least, so I thought, I was safe.

Then something amazing happened. I met a person. I met this person in the exact same context in which I’d met the last person who nearly destroyed me. Only this time the red flags were missing and my stomach didn’t lurch when I was around them.

At first I was terrified of making a new friend. And to be honest, I still am. But I feel a lot less alone and a lot less worried that I’m unsafe in the world. Not sure where I’m going from here and once I’m taking a break from theater, I might revert back to having those walls up. Still, I can’t help but think it’s super healthy for me to be dabbling in the art of “getting back out there”.

It’s terrifying to be vulnerable and to have to admit that you are, every single day of your life, not only to others but to yourself. I’m learning to navigate vulnerability. I’m also learning to recognize that others are also vulnerable. I’m not the only one out there scared of being hurt. I’m also learning to recognize that, when I let my vulnerabilities show, sure, yes, I get hurt but I am also given the unique opportunity to make some pretty incredible friends and connections. There are advantages and disadvantages to being so authentic and transparent.

Right now, I just know that I hate myself a little less and I hate other people a little less. So, I guess, that has to count for something.

 

 

As the dust settles

The past two days I’ve had a change in perspective.  The dust is starting to settle after the craziness of the intense drama which finally blew up in my face.  My perspective has changed in that I’ve been able to see the important gains and positive results of this traumatizing experience.  I’ve been able to look beyond the losses and see what has been given to me.  And folks, it is so much.  More than I ever dreamed possible.  In no particular order, the gifts which I have received…

My husband.

I’ve never tried to cover up the fact that my marriage wasn’t exactly perfect.  Okay, it was not good, guys.  One terrible thing after another has happened to me and my husband throughout the course of our relationship and frankly, we never had a chance to catch our breath and reconnect before the next storm would hit.  So we were hanging on by a thread.  Living a very mundane existence of “waiting it out ’til the kids were grown.”  This wasn’t what either of us wanted but it was what we had.  Over the past two weeks, my husband has more than made up for any shortcomings and any wrongdoings I might have been holding against him.  He’s proven to me, once and for all, that he loves me, he’s not going anywhere, and he’s been willing to make changes he’s needed to make in order to truly be in a marriage with me again.  I’ve been changing too.  I’d say, “We still have a lot of work to do” but that doesn’t even feel right to say.  We’ve been doing all of that work for the past 9 years.  Now it’s time to just enjoy each other.  I was ready for that old marriage to be over.  This new one is way better than that old one ever was. We’ve divorced the old marriage. Not each other.

Friendships.

The chiz went down and when it did, I had to figure out to whom I could turn.  And the people I chose weren’t the ones I usually chose in the past.  Through this ordeal, I learned thtumblr_muqc21nqys1rsyukao1_1280-534at some people in my life were ready to move up to “the friend you call when you need someone right away” ranks.  I was reminded that a couple people who were on that list to begin with were still on that list.  And I was shown that ones I thought were on it?  Not so much.  I also reached out to new people who seemed cool and that went very well.  And, I reached out to one bestie who has always been here for me but, for some reason I never imagined I could be 100% myself around.  Yet, it turns out, no matter how ugly. No matter how imperfect my life becomes? She’s still there.  Loving me.  I’m in awe.  I reconnected with my cousin through this difficult time and learned that we are as compatible as friends as we ever were.  Best of all? I discovered that my very best friend, for life, is the man to whom I’m married.  He’s willing to fight for me.  He’s willing to tell me the truth.  He’s willing to forgive me and tell me that, just because I may have made a mistake does not mean I’m not lovable.  I’ve never been so loved by him.  Yet here I am, at my most unlovable.

My precious children.

Of course, I’ve always had my kids.  They didn’t go anywhere.  However, I must say that they have shown me more compassion and love during these dark weeks than children should ever have to show their mother.  The kindness is immeasurable.  Their love is tangible.  The sweet hugs, the wiping away of my tears, taking care of me and the house, the looks of compassion, a tender hand in mine or on my shoulder.  They may not have been blessed with a perfect mother but they have been blessed with a training program for learning how to be great listeners and empathetic friends.

49587f1ebb377cf5ac35a8d1f69323a5Discernment.

Turns out, I’m pretty book smart but my street smarts aren’t so hot.  I’m about as naive and mature as a teenager, at best.  At times I think I might be less mature and more naive than I was as a teen, even.  Like I might be developing backwards.  I look young, I act young, and I think young.  I also trust and love young.  Easily, openly, and hard.  I love hard. This is all well and good when it comes to my immediate family.  Those people I can safely love hard and no harm will come to me.  Unfortunately, I’m not always able to refrain from loving everyone around me.  Once in a while, that love is dangerous.  Abused. Taken advantage of. Exploited even. I keep thinking about how, if I can’t even protect myself, how am I to protect my children?  Hopefully, and it seems as if this is the case, they already have more discernment even at their tender ages of 11, 9, and 6 than I do at 37.  I’m not sure I’ve gained discernment but I sure have read a lot of articles about red flags and manipulation and, well… hopefully next time I’ll be able to just go to one of my family members and say, “HEY?! Is this dangerous?” and they will be able to guide me.  Also, my gut? It’s pretty on target it would seem.

Focus on new (old) things.

Many of the things I love are bringing me down right now because the are connected to bad memories.  So I’ve had to force myself to focus on either new stuff that interests me or bring out the old stuff that isn’t somehow connected to the icky stuff.  This has helped me refocus on things like my love of the B-52s, my art, my writing, movies in my Netflix queue which I’ve been meaning to watch, working out, my love of healthy foods and coffee.  I cannot remove all of the bad feelings and I cannot control all of the triggers but what I can do is continue to reintroduce non-triggers as regularly as possible.

Have you ever been able to see gifts and precious rewards given to you as a result of a difficult time?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Bob’s Burgers Makes Me Cry

It’s been twelve years since I got married.  I lived in a little apartment then.  On the day of my wedding, my parents had visited me and my dad had changed into his suit in my bedroom.  The next day, when I brought my new husband to what would be our temporary home, I remember finding a small, folded handkerchief on my comforter.  This must have fallen out of Daddy’s pocket yesterday, I thought to myself.  Then I thought about how he’d cried before walking me down the aisle.  How he might have reached into his pocket for the handkerchief only to find it missing, unable to wipe his tears.

Though I’d not lived at “home” for about eight years, being a newly wed only child felt a bit sentimental.  Realistically, my dad’s walking me down the aisle was done strictly out of tradition.  I’d even asked if both he and my mom could do it… I didn’t like the idea of being “given away” by a man.  It seemed sexist and, let’s face it, I’d not belonged to either of them for many years, if ever.  Despite my liberal feminist mentality, there was still a bit of mauldlinness attached to my having married.  The closing of a door, the beginning of a new journey, the official end of my youth.

Somehow this abandoned handkerchief symbolized so much to me.  A part of me already knew that I didn’t have much time left with my parents.  (I’m not exactly psychic but I have gut instincts.  A voice whispered to me that I would lose a parent soon.  I heard the voice again a few month before my mother did die… it told me she was the one going, not my dad.)  That hanky seemed to embody everything I’d been feeling.  Everything I was thinking.  All of the emotions that are attached to major life events.  The hanky allowed me to see my Daddy differently as well.  Until that moment, seeing that handkerchief laying there, all by its lonesome, helped me to see my father as vulnerable.  Human.  Flawed. Less scary.  Someone for whom I could feel empathy.  These were new feelings.

At this point, you may be thinking I am crazy. (Which I totally am.)  Ridiculous.  Concocting romantic notions like a silly young bride.  You might simply not be able to understand what I’m saying.  If this is the case, you would not be alone.  My mom had no idea what I was talking about either.  I couldn’t wait to tell her about my emotional experience over seeing the handkerchief.  Surely, she of all people, the woman who had spent most of her life loving this man, would see the beauty in my newly found softheartedness toward him .  Sadly, I was wrong.

Once I’d spilled my guts, telling her all of the mushy gushy details of my moving ordeal, she simply said, “Well, you can keep it then.”

That’s it.

I could keep it.

Nothing else.

I think that was the last time I let myself be so forthright and transparent with my mom.  After twenty-five years of not being understood, I’d concluded that it was pointless to try.  So I didn’t try anymore or ever again. I gave up.  She died about three years later.

Every single time I am rummaging around in some old jewelry and hair stuff to find something from years go by (this time it was an Annie and Daddy Warbucks pendant to show my son who is currently in a local production of Annie Jr.) and I chance upon that pendant, it reminds me of how poignant I felt upon finding it that day after my wedding.  It also reminds me of how misunderstood I always felt by everyone in my life, including my own parents.

Bob’s Burgers is my new television obsession.  It’s about a family running a struggling Mom & Pop business.  The family is made up of a weird Dad, a weird Mom, and three weird kids.  And I mean that in the most loving way possible because I absolutely adore all of the characters and I can relate to every single one of them.  The middle child, Louise, is nine years old and is often a source of confusion for her family.  She’s three handfuls and sometimes they simply don’t know what to do with her.

So last week, the kids and I were watching an episode called “The Kids Run Away” where Louise

The Belchers being the best family of all time.

The Belchers being the best family of all time.

finds out she has cavities and runs away from home to avoid fillings.  After failing to manipulate her into coming home, the parents just leave her with her aunt, also weird.  By the end of the episode, the aunt has concocted this elaborate scheme where the entire family and the dentist and a family friend participate in acting out some kind of illegal undercover CIA-esque drama, all surrounding her dental work.  As I watched each member of the Belcher family bust into the dental exam room with their pretend guns, delivering rehearsed lines in order to execute the charade, I found myself bawling my eyes out.

This family gets Louise.

Weird, complicated Louise is not always easy to figure out but, by golly, this family will literally do anything to help her out and see things from her perspective.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be raised in a family like that.

All three of my kids are pretty unique.  Sometimes I am not sure how to deal with them and I don’t always understand them.  But I work my tail off trying to understand them.  I ask questions.  I pay attention.  I apologize if I don’t comprehend right away.  And I work hard to embrace everything about their minds, their hearts, their personalities.  I can’t help but imagine how Linda would respond after hearing Tina monologue on and on about finding Bob’s handkerchief the day after her wedding.  Hypothetically, I bet it would have been a much different response than the one I received. A more empathetic, earnest, and passionate response, even if she had no idea about that which her daughter was going on.

I may not have experience that same level of patience in my own family of origin but I’m learning so much from the Belchers.  Never before have I witnessed members of a television family show one another such unconditional love.  And sometimes it’s just too much to handle.

On a side note, if you aren’t watching this show, seriously… this must be fixed.  Right away.

Do You Like Me? Check Yes, No, or Maybe

I’ve been taking a bit of a Facebook break.  Originally I’d planned to deactivate my account until after the holidays but circumstances made it to where I really could not do that… I needed to be able to get into my account to deal with a few things related to upcoming field trips/events.  So, I logged out.  Normally I stay logged into Facebook all day long.  I’m not sure it’s an “addiction” as much as it’s something I do out of feeling obligated.  The bottom line being… “If I don’t keep talking to all of these people they will think I don’t care about them, they will forget about me, they will think I’m rude.

What I’d hoped would happen as a result of my withdrawing from Facebook were the following items:

  • I would stop obsessing over what many people who aren’t actually a part of my life thought about me, my children, my writing, and the things I say.
  • The folks who really matter would still be around, helping me to better define what a friend truly is to me.
  • There would be more time for things like needle felting and blogging and drawing.

So far, all of these items have come to pass.  In the past eleven days, I’ve felt myself changing.  I’ve been to Facebook a few times to deal with some of the outstanding matters I needed to deal with, but for the most part, I have no idea what is really going on with the people who are my “friends” over there.  Instead, I’ve remained connected with my nearest and dearest outside of Facebook.

Three of my closest friends texted me while I was at the hospital with my son… just checking in.  Two of those people continue to text me, email me, and keep in touch via Instagram. As I said to one of them, removing myself from Facebook has helped my vision become clearer.  The people who are my actual friends have come into crisp focus and the rest have sorta faded into the background.

Now let me be clear… I don’t think it’s necessary for me to keep “everyone else” out of focus permanently.  A lot of these folks who don’t take a front row seat in my life are still people I like, love, care about, and enjoy keeping in touch with.  But what has happened here lately is that I have become overwhelmed, overstimulated, and overly obligated to WAY too many people.  Taking a few steps back to gain some perspective on what are true friendships and what are not can be very helpful, especially for people like me.

People like me who have a very hard time knowing who their friends are.

I’m taken back to first grade.  I had a sweet friend and she had a friend.  I guess you could say that she had two close friends and the other girl, well, as an adult I can see she was scared of losing her friend to me.  Probably she was feeling threatened.  No doubt she was jealous.  At the time, though, I didn’t see this.  I just experienced everything as it was presented to me.

The threatened girl convinced our teacher to let the two of us move our desks behind hers so that we could be alone.  During class, the girl clawed my arms until they bled.  I believed all of this was normal and just let her do it. I remember thinking that I wanted to be her friend and I liked the attention she was giving me so I would have let her do anything to me.  My mom talked to the teacher and my desk was integrated into the normal classroom arrangement once more.

During Christmas break, my friend called me.  She was having a sleepover with the arm scratcher and I was being accused of having called my friend a bad word.  A word so bad I’d never dare to even utter it.  I still won’t say it.  The dreaded “n” word.  I remember crying and crying, begging my friend to understand me, to believe me.  I loved my friend, dearly. I’d never dream of calling her anything like that.  In fact, I’d never spoken an ill word against my friend.  I’d never even spoken an ill word against the scratcher either.  The last words I said before she hung up on me were, “Why would I even call you that?  You aren’t even black!”  I was so desperate for her to believe me.  I was so scared. I was so broken.

My dad yelled at me and told me that they weren’t really my friends.  I would have no more than five real friends during my life and I’d better get used to it.

I suppose it is experiences like this one which took place in my formative years that make it so difficult for me to know if a person is truly my friend.  Then there are the people who seem to be my friend for weeks, months, even years and then, when things are hard, they disappear.  That’s confusing.  I never know if a person likes me or not.  That is my reality.

I mean, I pick up on signs.  They text me, ask me for advice, come to me when things are hard, depend upon me for help, like my posts on Facebook… I start to assume that a person likes me.  Then, sometimes that stuff will stop and I don’t know if it’s something I did or if the person is going through something… I just know that I am not so sure anymore if they still like me.

The past week or so I’ve been mentally making a list of all of the times I failed in interacting with people.  There are the times when I now, as a more mature adult, know exactly what I did wrong and I’m kicking myself and feeling ashamed that I was ever so idiotic.  But there is this other set of interactions, however, where I have no idea what I did wrong.  Like not being asked to teach Bible class anymore, losing a major customer for our chocolate business because of a phone call I made with the sole purpose of trying to help, and the friend I wrote about recently who unfriended me, stopped following me and my kids on Instagram and still hasn’t told me why other than that I hurt her feelings.

A whole lifetime of feeling hurt, scared, confused, worried, and betrayed.  Is this an aspie thing?  Because I trust and love too easily?  Because I can’t read the signs that this type of behavior is coming?  Because I doubt myself so much that, when I do get that gnawing feeling in my gut, I ignore it and assume I’m wrong or, worse, just crazy?

I remember years ago, on my old blog, writing a post about my trouble with friendships and receiving an anonymous comment about how I’m too critical of my friends and that is why I can’t keep friends.  Am I?  I don’t mean to be.  And if this person was willing to make this statement, they should have been willing to tell me their name.  Maybe it was a person who knew me and had  felt criticized by me.  Maybe it was an internet troll.  And maybe it was the opinion of a person I don’t respect anyway and I could have thought to myself, “Consider the source.”  I will never know.  But the comment haunts me.

New friendships are a gamble to me.  I invest time and energy and 9 times out of 10, they don’t work out and I end up scratching my head.  It’s happened again… people I thought I’d become friends with just kinda dwindling out of my life.  It’s okay.  I’m okay with it.

Honestly, life would be so much easier for me if I could give every person I befriend a note.  On that note it would say:

Do you like me?

Check Yes, No, or Maybe.ckhi1ry10w4hhjzil0at603jd.300x180x1

Because really, those notes were so useful when we were kids, weren’t they?  Once you got the answer, there was no question.  The person liked you.  Or they didn’t.  Or maybe they did and you could work with that.

Why did we ever stop writing those things exactly?

The Surprises Brought By the Past Year

Every November I evaluate the previous twelve months.  I reflect upon the birthday goals I set, I think about the last time I made a promise to focus on various areas of my life, and I think about whether or not I accomplished all I set out to do.  What I do not do, however, is pull up the blog post where I wrote about the goals I set because I find that causes me to stress about what I didn’t complete or pursue.  Instead, I simply look back at what I believed was important to me, think about what all I did in the previous year, and kinda compare the two lists.

I remember that last year I wanted to keep exercising, I wanted to keep working on my writing, I want to pursue comedy at some level, and I wanted to focus on my marriage.

Today, as I began reflecting upon the past year, I could honestly say that I do feel as if I accomplished all of my goals.  And that is great.

But what is really cool is that so many more amazing things happened this year.

Surprises.  Things I couldn’t have planned nor predicted even if I tried.

Here are some of those things:

  • About a year ago, a person I’d encountered on a rainy field trip five years ago happened to move to town.  We reconnected upon that move.  But in the past year, she has filled this empty space in my heart that I so desperately needed to fill.  This space was left open for a friend who totally understands me, validates me, appreciates me, and forgives me when I’m not perfect.  My dear friend has filled this vacant spot in my life and, as a result, I’ve managed to grow in other friendships too.  Beyond the friendship I’ve developed with her are the relationships our children share which have been life-changing for my oldest son.  God’s fingerprints are all OVER this situation.
  • Not only have I continued writing but I’ve joined a local writer’s group. I’m not nearly as active as I imagine I will be one day when I am no longer homeschooling and driving kids to a thousand places every week.  They are forgiving of my circumstances, however, and encourage me to attend whenever I have a chance.  It’s pretty awesome.  I’m proud of the work I’m producing when I get around to working, that is.  The most surprising bit of information I’ve gained from being a member of the group, however, is that, apparently, my greatest strength is in writing for children.  I also have another play in the works.
  • Miracles are happening in my marriage. I won’t divulge details but I’ll just assure you, reader, that I never thought things would be good again but they are.  Never give up.  There is always hope.
  • Another shocking change that happened this year was that I started painting and drawing.  I’m not awesome at it but it’s fun.  I’ve always known I was an artist but I never let myself pursue that before because I didn’t think I was any good.  What I learned, however, is that you don’t have to be good.  You just have to do it.  The rest will come.
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This is a Halloween piece I worked on in my sketchbook.

Additionally, I’ve been amazed to find myself admitting that I am not a gardener and I don’t even want to be one. I really enjoy planting stuff during the late spring.  Beyond that, it sucks.  I hate the heat, the weeding, the watering, the bug bites on my tooshy.  So, I’ve decided to just admit that I am much better at being a CSA member, supporting local agriculture and feeding my family well as a result, than I am at gardening.  I will not pretend any more!

And finally, I was shocked to learn that I like breaks.  Breaks from people, breaks from media, breaks from screens, from the internet, breaks from the demands placed on me by myself.  I have had several opportunities this year to simply relax, read, watch tv, and not do much else.  In other words, I’ve given myself permission to take some time off from the constant THINKING.  I like the breaks so much, in fact, that I’m going on another hiatus.  This doesn’t mean I won’t be blogging or writing… it just means that my first priority is good food, silly times, board games, glasses of wine, Bob’s Burgers marathons.  And I can’t wait.  Any plays, chapters of books, and essays can wait to be written next year after the chaos of the holidays is over.  Right now, it’s survival mode.

Benefit of the Doubt

Today I was urged by someone who is angry with me to look at myself in the mirror, examine myself, and think about how I treat those around me. While I do this regularly (as an aspie, I probably do this more often than most of you reading this) but, sure, I’ll do it again.

In fact, I’ve been doing it constantly for about a week now. It’s consuming me. I’ve searched my heart. I’ve searched my mind. I’ve searched my motives. The only thing I can come up with is, “I was trying to be a good friend to her.”

I don’t like everyone all of the time. When I dislike or feel rubbed the wrong way by a person, I usually cannot pinpoint why. So I’ll try to like the person. Once in a while, something will pop up to validate why I didn’t like them in the first place. Sometimes nothing ever pops up. But I know to keep my distance from a person I don’t feel a connection with because it’s easy to have a rude tone of voice or to communicate something unpleasant non-verbally when I’m not feeling it with a person. I can also become easily annoyed and that puts negative thoughts in my mind about the person who annoyed me. I try really hard to keep people who annoy me at arms length. Not only for my own good but for theirs too. So no one gets hurt. I can’t be friends with everyone. I just can’t.

But when I do let a person in, when I do decide that I like a person and I want them to be someone I keep close, I expect them to give me the benefit of the doubt. I do that for them. If they hurt my feelings (and if you are reading this, you have probably hurt my feelings somehow at least once if we’ve had much contact) then I either get the heck over it or I go to the “offender” and I try to talk about the situation. That’s the only way I can keep friends. If I stopped speaking to everyone who has ever hurt me in some way, I’d have no one in my life. Not a one.

Just to be sure I wasn’t off base, I went ahead and looked up what the Bible says about the benefit of the doubt.  A quick google search showed me this link.

First Corinthians 13:7 says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Leon Morris, in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, says this about the phrase “believes all things”: “To see the best in others . . . . This does not mean that love is gullible, but that it does not think the worst (as is the way of the world). It retains its faith. Love is not deceived . . . but it is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt.”

When we hear something negative about others or we’re suspicious about the motive for their actions, let’s stop before we judge their intentions as wrong or bad. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

The person who urged me to reflect upon my own motives, I have no doubt that I hurt her feelings.  It’s the story of my life.  It’s just what I do.  In this case, I somehow managed to hurt her feelings by not even being in contact with her.  I am certain that I will hurt the feelings of likely ten people tomorrow.  Unless I just stay silent, held up in my bed all day, I will hurt feelings.  I used to think that the problem was that I hurt people’s feelings so easily.  And I sure wish that I was better able to understand social rules a bit better.  I sure wish I had more insight into the minds of people and what it is that I’m speaking or typing that is so hurtful.  Unfortunately, I don’t though.  The only consolation is the one I have when I examine my motives.  And those, my friend, are pure.  I have a kind heart.  As I said earlier, I get annoyed.  But even the most annoying person in the world to me… well..  I don’t wish them any ill will.  I wish nothing but the best for everyone. I truly am trying to be helpful, kind, loving, and a good friend to anyone who has let me in.  And to many people who have not.  I am always trying to be at the very least nonharmful to the rest of the population.  I never mean to hurt anyone, ever.  I just wish that people who claim to care about me would realize this, believe it, and either move on from the thing I said or did to hurt them or give me a chance to correct my mistake.  When people confront their loved ones with kindness and good intentions, gently, relationships can not only be salvaged but they can deepen.  Without the guarantee that my friends will do this should the need arise, I will never be able to let them into that inner layer.  This is why so few people have ever gotten there with me.

I urge you, reader, to give the benefit of the doubt to those who you feel have wronged you.  Give them a chance to explain what they really meant by their words or actions.  It’s the only possible way that any of us can achieve healthy, mature relationships.

Finding Ann Perkins

I almost didn’t get out of bed today.  The entire time my oldest child had cancer, I never did not get out of bed.  Not getting out of bed is a big deal for me.  I’ve been awake since 4 am but I stayed in bed, reading, groveling until 10 am.

It’s been a hard week.  First, the whole coming to terms with the idea that I may have two sons on the spectrum (which is only worrisome because the youngest seems to have some issues that make him… well… less than thrilled with me and I was kinda hoping that it was “just a phase” as so many of the “experts” have insisted).  Next came accepting that I would no longer have two days a week to focus on schooling the older two kids.  That break was always so appreciated.  And finally, right in time for my friendly monthly visitor, drama.  Drama drama drama.

I go to send a note to a person who I thought was a friend or at least a friendly acquaintance.  I’m going to invite her children over for our Halloween school day next week and since she works nights and is pregnant and her children seemed to enjoy doing school here about a month ago… well, it seemed natural to invite them again.  However, I discovered that she’d unfriended me on Facebook.  Giving her the benefit of the doubt and thinking that maybe she had done it by mistake, I checked instagram.  Sure enough, not only had she unfollowed me but she’d unfollowed my children as well.

Usually when this kind of thing happens to me (and it happens a lot more often that you’d think), I have some inkling of what has occurred to cause this person to cut me out of their life.  Maybe we had exchanged some words that seemed less than jovial.  Perhaps there had been tension the last few times we’d talked.  Or maybe they’d even sent me a note and said that they needed a break from me for a while (and then after that break, I guess they just didn’t want to be back in touch).  SOMETHING that might help me at least understand when the inevitable occurs.  That inevitable unfriending and dumping.  It’s one thing to clean out your friends list and unfriend people to whom you never talk.  But a person who you were just texting a few months earlier to tell they were the reason you were braving homeschool?  A person who had been reaching out and trying to be a good friend?  Well, it’s just not fair to do that sort of thing without an explanation.

So I asked for one.

I sent a note on FB and a text.  Did I do something?  I’m so sorry if I upset you somehow?  Can we talk about it?  My kid will be devastated because he loves your kid.

The only response I’ve gotten is that I can assure my son that he and her daughter are still friends, nothing between them has changed, and if they want to hang out to just send her a text.

Um.

Okay?

So I deserve no explanation?  I receive no words to soothe over my wounded pride.  Nothing to solve this inexplicable mystery.  And now that we aren’t friends, who is supposed to host these get togethers with our children?  How awkward is that going to be?

This morning I was just done.  My husband returned from work to find me piled up in the bed on a church day, tears running down my face.

“I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t, Michael.  I may as well quit trying.”

His words of assurance didn’t do much for me.  I had to get through the grief.  I had to get mad.

That’s when I knew I had to become my own big sister.  You see, I do this sometimes.  I have no actual big sister.  I have no one in my life who is ready to come kick my @ss when I’m being ridiculous.

So I imagine her.  A lot like Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope.  Or maybe more like Jenna

Maroney to my Liz Lemon.  She blasts through the doorway.  She throws herself down on the edge of my bed.  She uses the F word a few times and calls the offender a few nasty names of which my Leslie Knope would never approve.  But I secretly love it because it means she’s on my side.  Then she tells me to get up.

“Hey.  You are better than this.  Don’t let this bleep bleep bleep steal your joy.  There are three kids and a husband in there who need you.  Your daughter just made Pop Tarts and sausage for everyone’s breakfast.  Pop Tarts two days in a row!  That is unacceptable.  Get up.  Get moving.  And don’t for one minute believe this idiot deserves your energy.”

And I know she’s right.  So I get up.  I sweep the kitchen.  I give my man a foot rub.  I break up a squabble and put all three kids to work cleaning the house.  And I make a kickin’ awesome juice to tend to my own personal health needs.

Then, I arrive at this conclusion.

I have too many real friends who would never in a million years treat me this way.  Who love me.  Who value me.  Who see me and still want to know me.  Who are almost the Ann Perkins to my Leslie Knope and, if I stick it out with them long enough, might just become the best friends/big sisters I’ve always dreamed of having.  This person doesn’t deserve my friendship.  And frankly, now that I see how she’s capable of treating someone, I don’t think I even care.

Thank you, Ann, you beautiful rule-breaking moth.