We have worked together in the same industry four separate times in the last twenty-three years , sometimes for years at a time and I only maintained a “working” relationship with her until the last four years.
When I started thinking of this it boggled me, at first. Then I started to really delve in to the last twenty-five years of my life and I discovered some interesting things….about myself, about life, about friendships.
All my life I have hidden things, I have hidden my anxiety issues, I have hidden my insecurities, I have hidden the fact that I am painfully shy… I have shown the world only what I thought was acceptable.
WHAT I SHOWED THE WORLD VS THE TRUTH
- I am a perfectionist THE TRUTH: I am riddled with anxiety and the only way to quiet the consistent voice in my head that tells me everything is wrong is to control the peripheral of my life, the things I can control, I obsessively control.
- I am very outgoing THE TRUTH : I am painfully shy until I get to know someone and big crowds scare me to death, in fact I become so frozen with fear that I become physically ill at times.
- I am fiercely independent and don’t need anyone THE TRUTH: I want desperately to trust someone so much that I can and do depend on them.
When I started working with my Friday friend again for the third time in our careers, I was a MESS, an open wound , a spinning tornado – I would touch down on solid ground long enough for everyone else to look and assume I was fine, and then as soon as they looked away I would kick up and start spitting dirt again. I tried hard to hide my inner turmoil but she saw right through it, she didn’t turn away from me in those moments, instead she embraced that part of me and at all the right moments would share bits of her life and her same struggles that I could relate to. She too was afraid, spinning, unsure, trying to figure it out and she opened herself up for me to see all of it.
I had never met anyone else like me before, at least not anyone that was alright in their own mess of skin and bones. She was and is…..in a very good , eye-opening, life changing way- Okay with her madness.
Please let me introduce you to this week’s November 6th Friday with Friends: If you play Bingo and at the end of the game you say ” All I needed was B1 to win …and then everyone starts yelling at you telling you they called that 30 minutes ago…. you will forever be remembered by that letter and number, thus her nickname: B1
Where we lacked in connecting outside of work in the last 20 years, we made up for this time. I was going through a divorce, she had just recently gone through one herself and a break-up with a long time beau. We were working very closely in a crazy atmosphere that left us both un-raveled and stressed, but somehow in the worst of times we found absolute comfort in each other. We would end our days in hysterical bouts of laughter, that I would sometimes find myself laughing about four hours after the work day had ended.
We soon discovered we had mutual friends in common, whom happened to be men, one I had known as long as I had her and the other his best friend. All of us in this crazy time of our lives, all struggling with the same things on different levels, it quickly became the four of us hanging out on Friday nights, having a few drinks, playing Bingo on Saturday afternoon’s , often three of us crashing overnight at our mutual friends house, all waking up hung over, sharing breakfast , having conversations, laughing , watching TV. It felt almost like I was in college again, OH WAIT, I never went to college, so it felt very much like the first time I was never in college ( Had I gone to college I could probably make that sentence make sense, but I didn’t so it’s up to you to figure it out). I was free falling for the first time in my life, going with the flow, having fun, not trying to hold myself so tightly together.
I found freedom in her friendship, to bring out the secret parts of me that I was most afraid of showing to the world , she allowed me that freedom by sharing her own struggles with me . We have this way of seeing through each other, if I say one thing but really mean the other it’s as if in the blink of an eye she can reveal the underlying message, the truth about me and I about her.
I knew she suffered often with deep anxiety, and I still liked her , in fact I liked her even more now than I ever have- and in realizing that I realized that people would accept me also for exactly who I was ,I didn’t have to fake it , I didn’t have to hide it, I was not alone and if I was not alone, then chances are there are many many more people that struggle with and suffer with the same things… , the people who I would connect with because I shared the same scary shit they did-
I never connected with her all the previous times we worked together as I saw something in her silence, she read beneath my words to the truth and neither one of us were ready to face our truth’s or each other. This time , after the years and the tears and the suffering, the struggles we both faced down and fought, two former warriors stood face to face, put down their shields and became the sort of friends who could lose their shit in front of each other and totally understand and empathize with one another.
I have learned that over the years we shed our outer layer, the one that we hide behind , and sometimes when we feel the most exposed we meet those who will protect us the strongest, because they see you for everything you are, and then they see little bits of themselves in you.
I have learned that life and friendship are a lot like the game we liked to play: It’s filled with nonsensical numbers and letters placed haphazardly on a board, be patient, keep your eye on the ball, one that doesn’t mean much to you today, might present itself to you later and suddenly all that confusion aligns itself and you find yourself yelling BINGO and winning the jackpot in life. Freedom to be yourself and great friends.
Thank you B1, for giving me the freedom to embrace all of me, the outer shell and the really frightening inner secrets I had hidden away from the world in fear- and teaching me that as a whole I am stronger, I am real, I have substance and I can still offer the world something. Thank you for seeing through my mask and still looking at me the same way, thank you for taking the girl I showed the world, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her up, leaving all the parts exposed and wanting to be THAT girl’s friend.
In closing I say this to you:
I love your calm , cool , collected self- but I truly love your Mad self……
The greatest gift of our friendship is I can say that to myself now also, and for that I am forever and eternally grateful.