On Friendship

16 Oct

I have kept in touch with very few friends from my childhood days.  I mean, there are tons of them on Facebook, which roots me to those early elementary day.  It’s wonderful to visit with people who knew me before my days as a mom.  They share my memories of Mrs. Reagan’s 1st grade classroom being decorated in bears, the Jamaican US history teacher from middle school, and of being hollered at by Mr. Logan on the marching field for missing a mark on the 5 yard line. They remind me of who I am deep down inside.

But there are not many folks who I’ve seen in person, exchange birthday mail with, or talk on the phone with from those “olden days.”  I think as you grow up (and move across the country), it gets harder to stay connected to the people who aren’t in your everyday life.  The internet has made it easier to check in, but has also decreased the depth of our interactions.

There are, however a few people who seem to have “made the cut.”  I just can’t quit them.  Whether we talk weekly or only occasionally, when we do, we pick up right where we left off.  They are the people I can be vulnerable with.  Soul sisters.

Melissa and I attended high school together.  Because she was in choir and I was in band, we ran in different social circles.  We actually weren’t that close in those days, but we had classes together and both belonged to the “nerd” crowd, sitting together in our GT AP English class making snarky comments about the long-term substitute.  And if I’m being honest, I always thought she was too cool for me.  Too smart.  My respect for her was built on my admiration for her talents and her apparent ease with friends.   And her writing.  Oh, her writing.

As adults, she and her kids have visited several times.  She flew up from Texas for my oldest’s second birthday.  When DH and I traveled to Las Vegas a few years back, we met up with her husband for a hilarious visit to the wax museum.  Our times together are easy and our friendship is built on a mutual respect and girl crush.  I truly love any time we get to spend together.

And though we trained for different careers and settled down across the country from one another, our lives have become curiously parallel.  We’ve both found ourselves non-religous after extended periods of belief earlier in our lives.  We’re music educators with private studios who understand the excitement inherent in planning and executing the perfect recital.  And all of a sudden, Melissa and I stumbled into roles as health advocates.

Diabetes and depression don’t seem at first glance to be similar health complications, but as it turns out, Melissa’s pancreas and my brain have impacted our lives in similar ways.  She understands deeply how stigma shapes my experience with mental illness and the guilt I battle about how my health affects my children.  My conversations with her about how she manages her diabetes without allowing it to run her life have contributed more than she knows to my ability to make peace with taking medication for my anxiety and depression.  And we’ve both found how online communities can completely change how a patient copes with a life-long diagnosis.  Her work as an advocate in the diabetes community inspires my work within the PPD community and on my blog.

She’s the kind of friend who listens with her whole heart.  She builds me up without letting me get away with anything.  She celebrates my successes and mourns with me when I struggle.  Her friendship drives me to be a better person while at the same time validating my inherent self-worth and value.

I don’t know where I would be in my journey to self-acceptance and PPD recovery without her.

Melissa, I love you.  So very much.  Thank you for being my friend and for all you have brought to my life.

Oh, and Happy Birthday.

7 Responses to “On Friendship”

  1. Alta October 16, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    This makes my heart smile.

  2. learnedhappiness October 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    Alta,
    I seriously had friendship envy of you girls in high school. You, Mel, Emily, Elise, Janet – I’m sure I’ve leaving someone out. But you all made being smart feel awesome. And though I spent so much more time with my band friends, they’re not the people I look forward to keeping in touch with. It’s you – my Phoenix friends. ❤

  3. story October 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    You make me happy. Old friends are wonderful.

  4. makemommygosomethingsomething October 21, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Hi girl, I tried to comment on your post but your comment system wouldn’t let me. I think I’ve had problems commenting on your posts before. I tried to use my twitter, facebook and g+ accounts but no luck…so here’s my comment lovely ***** Made the cut..hee hee. I haven’t kept any relationships from grade school. But the ones I made in high school have lasted a long time. I’m glad that you have her and that she has you. My dad always told me that if you have one good friend, it’s better than 10. It’s true. Hold her tight.

    Kimberly Morand All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something Contributing Author: The Good Mother Myth: Tearing It Down One Story At A Time Email: kimber_loo@yahoo.ca Twitter: http://twitter.com/momgosomething Facebook

    • learnedhappiness October 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      So strange. Esp since we’re both wordpress. Hurump. Stupid internet.

  5. Erin Best Margolin October 22, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    I wish more people understood me & my battles w/ depression & anxiety. I have blogged about them recently, but have had to deal with backlash from my husband, family, and others who say it’s “too much,” and basically that I need to draw the line somewhere. On the other hand, there are those who have found my posts helpful, or at least have been able to relate…

    I wish I had more of my blogging/online community HERE, close by. Then maybe my family would be more understanding/accepting. They don’t seem to think it’s all “real,” or they think I write what I do to receive their validation. They don’t get it.

    And it’s lonely.

    I’m glad you have her, and she has you, even if your experiences are different in some ways.

    Lastly? I’m so sick of STIGMA I could barf. Sigh.

    • learnedhappiness October 22, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      It’s too much as in over sharing? I refrain from writing about my husband. About my parents because they hate the internet and love privacy. About sex because my mom reads my blog (the hypocrisy, lol).

      But the more open I have been about writing about my anxiety and depression? The less shame I feel.

      My DH hasn’t ever expressed concern that I’m over sharing, thank goodness. And he recently started understanding the “realness” of my online friendships when notes and gifts started being exchanged and I asked for budget for a trip down to see A’Driane in November. Honestly I think he’s just glad I have an outlet for my crazy beside him. 😉

      And yes. Stigma. BARF.

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