Normally if I write in my blog on Thursday’s I write about my weekly accomplishments with Weight Watchers. Today’s discussion will be about the touchy, sometimes controversial subject of friendship. While at Weight Watchers today, the subject of friendship entered my mind. Why? Simple. I do not have many “friends.”
Did you notice I placed the seven letter words of friends in quotes? Perhaps. Why? Simple — friendship is a complicated subject open for discussion.
As a child, I grew up in many locations. None that I referred to as home, with exception of my grandparents home in a mill village. My parents moved us around like gypsies on the road. Roots never existed for our family. Each time I hear someone describe how they ‘love to go home again,’ I cringe. Envious. During high school (remember those years — only four years until adulthood?) Well, during those four years, I went to six high schools. In one year, I changed high school three times. My Freshman year – the year where I had difficulty passing English? It was a torrential time in my life. My parents fought like maniac cats and dogs — barking…growling…huffing…puffing…cursing…threatening, then — beating each other. When I was 15, on a cold, windy Tuesday afternoon, I pulled them apart again – this time for the last time! That Saturday my mother moved us again — this time, back to our maternal grandparent’s home. At their tiny brick mill house, there were two bedrooms. One bathroom. Four girls. Our mother, and our grandparents. Privacy did not exist.
For weeks, I rebelled. Refusing to go to school, refusing to talk…refusing life. I took walks by myself. I discovered an isolated route leading to the shores of the Chattahoochee River, and there, hovered down, staring at the shoreline, angry and hurt that my parents were divorcing and my mother forced us to live in such a crowded home, I cried. Angry because my mother wanted me to cut the cords with my ‘no good b——Daddy. He’s dead. Dead. DEAD. Don’t ever say his name around me again!”
Unbeknownst to her, I kept in touch with my dad.
I recall thinking about my roots, only I didn’t have any. Thrust in a small mill village where everyone knew everything, I refused to make friends. I hid the secrets of my childhood in the red clay riverbanks of the Chattahoochee River. During another battle with my mother, she shouted to me, demanding that I go to school so I could graduate. She pointed her finger in my face, demanding that IF I did not enroll in high school, she would see me working at the Bibb Mill. Remember, I was only 15! I did not want to work in the mill, nor did I want to live in Bibb City.
Deciding the only decision I could make was to return to school, I enrolled, went to class, but I did not make friends. I sat in the back of the classroom, refusing to socialize with other students. I was ashamed. A mill kid with only the clothes on her back. Nothing more. One of my cousins cleaned out her closet, giving me her ‘hand-me-down clothes.’ When she saw me wearing them, she laughed, shouting something about I was so poor the only decent clothes I had were her ‘hand-me-downs.’ I wanted to hit her, but I walked away, deciding to remain — ALONE.
During my final high school days, my grades improved. All I did was force my eyes into books at the library and at school. In Atlanta, I was a singer for a rock band. In Columbus, the music stopped, with exception of the church and school choirs. I made only a few friends, never inviting them to our home. Why? We had no privacy. If I brought a friend home, I couldn’t play music because ‘rock n’ roll music was a sin,’ according to my grandfather. He didn’t believe we should play with the school kids, but only the kids in the mill village. I rebelled.
Today, at Weight Watchers I listened to the new program learning how I could be more successful with my weight loss journey. Afterwards, I had lunch with two of my dearest friends from Weight Watchers. After lunch, Tammy invited me to go shopping with her, so off we went, driving around the area while getting to know each other better. I must say, I really enjoy this new friendship with Tammy and Sara. I am blessed! Now that I am home, I started thinking about friendship.
Friendship is defined as “the state of being friends: the relationship between friends” according to Webster’s Dictionary. I confess, I have a limited amount of friends. I consider friendship as a relationship between people who trust and love each other. A friend is someone you can count on. Trust. Appreciate. A person who you can spill your heart to while knowing that the trust will not be broken. A friend is someone who will NOT pretend to be your friend, just to go and share your heartfelt feelings to others.
Today, while riding with Tammy I feel a new bonding with her. A connection. No, I will not share our conversations, after all, isn’t that what true friends do — listen. Talk. Relate, while not going behind your back to as I describe, “stab you in the back.” When a friend talks with me, I do not share those conversations to others. I believe in the bond of trust.
Backstabbers are not friends. I have met many. Two that I really thought were my friends, only to discover behind my back they were whispering — starting ugly gossip. Have I shared that I detest gossip? I refer these people as ‘acquaintances,’ not “friends!”
I suppose I am from the old school — where friendship is to be cherished. I suppose my husband is my greatest friend. For years I thought husbands and wives could not be classified as friends since intimacy was combined within the relationship; nevertheless, now I say my husband is probably my dearest friend. He has seen me walk through the darkness of my childhood when I shared the years of abuse with him. He is the only one who held me tight when I fell apart emotionally. On that horrific night of my life, he listened without fighting with me. He knows my darkest secrets, and to my knowledge he hasn’t discussed those issues with anyone else. He guided me to find the strength to break away and to rise above and build a new life with him. Yes, we’ve had moments where I didn’t know if we would survive — many times when I stood my ground with him – refusing to allow him to rule me — however, he is my strength. My foundation. My Rock!
Friendship is truly something all of us need in our lives. A friend will listen. A friend comforts. A friend guides and understands — even when we think we cannot get through another day.
To my closest friends, I say thank you. To Gina, Tammy, and my high school “lifetime best friend,” — Charlotte, I say thank you. Without all of you by my side, I would not be the person I am today, while I journey to find strength and joy within my heart and soul. Due to your encouragement I discovered it is important to love ourselves, so we can be the best friend to our friends.
To those people who say “I don’t need friends…” I must remind you, if you do not have friends, you must live a lonely, isolated unhappy life.
I salute and toast my friends. I would not be the woman I am today without you. The good. The bad…The indifferent…The opinionated…The glitzy, gregarious “drama queen who loves her bling” and mostly the kind, happy woman I smile at in the mirror. The woman who permitted the music to return so she could sing again! I hope my reflections of friendship will encourage all of my readers to take a step to make friends.
Thank you! Happy Friendship!