Friday, October 22, 2010

It Gets Better

I'm not a woman who makes friends easily. My concept of friendship is not exchanging statuses on Facebook, much as I enjoy it. I think real friendship is deep and rare, so while I have a lot of friendly relationships, I have a handful of real, true friends. A few of them I've never met in person, or may only have met a few times, or may not have seen for years, but the kind of friendship I mean survives all of that. We're involved with one another.

Thing is, I never know when one of these friends is going to appear in my life - or sadly, disappear. Some of the best friendships I've had in my life have been utterly unexpected, and completely by chance. My senior year in high school, my choral group was doing back to back performances, first at a mall, then at a garden club. One of the other members of the group wasn't feeling well, and since my little Toyota had reclining seats, I invited her to ride with me so she could lay back. During that twenty minute ride and conversation, we founded a friendship that lasts to this day. I'd known her a couple of years, thought her nice, envied her talent, but happenstance made us friends, and made my senior year much richer.

I got pregnant with my first daughter about two months after we landed in England. I knew almost no one, I was 19, and my husband was a fighter pilot who would be gone for days and weeks at a time. An enlisted man's wife befriended me, loaned me baby clothes, taught me to crochet, shared my love of reading, and helped shepherd my mom to tourist sites when she came over for the birth. We haven't seen each other in about 27 years...and when we talk or email, it's like it was yesterday.

And then there was Witt, whose larger-than-life presence showing up with Gary to surprise me at my studio made my life so much richer that just thinking of him evokes tears of gratitude as I type. He'd recently moved, left a lot of his comfort zone over an hour's drive away, and we needed and loved one another. We met because he happened to mention on a knitting forum that he'd moved fairly close to where I live, and I said so...and we started to email. He realized immediately that I not only didn't mind that he was gay, but that I was very accepting of him and Gary. So accepting that when they decided to do a commitment ceremony, they asked me to do the service, and DH, who loved them both too, to be their photographer. They only had about a year and a half together after that, but I think they were more content for having made the public commitment.

My point here is, I never knew any of these people were around the corner for me. Brilliant Goddess tho' I may be, I have no crystal ball, no foresight, to know the deep happiness they would bring. They made my life better, but I didn't know they were out there.

I've been in abusive relationships, first with my father who was both mentally and physically abusive, and then with my first husband, who tore me to shreds verbally (and often publicly) and withheld affection. There were many tear-filled nights and days, some of which I spent wondering why I went on.

But it got better. I grew stronger, in spite of and because of what I went through. I grew stronger because of people I really admired who thought I was special enough to want to befriend me. I grew stronger when I found the man I thought was the best person I ever met actually loved me. And if those things can happen to me, they can happen to you. But you have to be here! Borrow a little of my faith in you if you have none of your own, and believe it will get better. Believe there are those of us willing to help, willing to stand up, willing to love you for exactly who you were born to be.

Believe. It gets better.