Sunday, April 29, 2007
Answer Me This...
I'm much better, healthwise, although I'm still in that pathetic post-illness fatigue thing where I need to stop to catch my breath on the way to the refrigerator.

My anxiety continues to increase at the knowledge that we're leaving for Potsdam in 87 hours, give or take. It will be fine, I know it will be fine. Honest. Fine.

Instead, I continue to focus on the fact that I'm going to Paris in 12 days. TWELVE. Oh. My. God. I have sooooo much to do! Very soon, within a day or two, I'll be starting a separate blog, just for us to chronicle our trip. I'll post the address here, if you want to come along and play - but I plan on giving the address to my mother-in-law too, so I won't be linking back. Ugh.

In the meantime, I got some good questions in the comments the other day, and I'm finally motivated to actually answer them. So...
Sara asked, "Where in the world would you live if money/jobs/schools were of no concern? Why?"
    In a big, old house on the northern Massachusetts shore, within walking distance of the ocean. Big as in 12-foot ceilings and fireplaces, but not too fancy for kids. I'll need a big, deep, covered porch so that I can sit outside during thunderstorms, blackberry bushes along one side of the property, and a yard just big enough for the kids to play in without being overwhelming. Bathrooms on each floor, with at least one huge iron clawfoot tub.
    Why? Something about the ocean soothes me and completes me. It's where I've gone whenever I've needed to work out some particular crisis or anxiety, and so far I've been able to walk long enough to come to peace with everything I've needed to come to peace with.

My sister Mary asked, "peas: canned or frozen?"
    I always prefer to visualize whirled peas.

And the hard question. Baino asked, "Given the opportunity and the will, what is it about yourself that you would change?"
    Gee, thanks, Baino. I literally lost sleep over this one. Because I just don't know. I've changed a lot about myself over time, and have dealt with many of those things that I needed to change. (See above response, about walking the beach. Miles and miles, sometimes, not to mention therapy and medications as needed...) I'm content in my life, content in my level of achievements thus far and in my long-term plans. Which are vastly different than they used to be, and I've adjusted to that, as well. I'm not perfect, but I'm okay with who I am.

    But I finally, at about 2:00 yesterday morning, came up with an answer: I wish that I could lower my standards, just a little, as far as what I will accept in a friend. Because I think my life would be easier, and not negatively compromised, if I could just ease up, just relax, just a little.

    I'm not thinking I should go to the nearest prison or NAMBLA meeting and start collecting friends from the very dredges of society; rather, that once a friendship has started, perhaps I should take a cue from Wendy and have high standards BUT be quicker to forgive and overlook things I find upsetting or offensive, in the larger service of holding onto a friendship for the sake of friendship. (Or maybe she's just slumming it, whatever.) This is best clarified through example:

  • There was one mother, with some number of children, who lived near enough to me that we were able to get together once in a while, despite an initial relationship formed on an online message board. She was nice enough, and her child(ren) were adorable. But the youngest, from an early age, showed clear signs of developmental delay.

    I have made a very strict rule with myself, that I will never offer my professional opinion to friends unless it is explicitly sought... and even then, I keep it fairly light, because there are boundaries I just don't want blurred. So, she never asked whether I thought there was anything wrong, and I never volunteered it. But I listened, as she recounted tales of doctors and specialists telling her there was something wrong, and she denied it. Agreed to go to the minimum number of assessments and appointments to satisfy her pediatrician, but held a consistent stance of, "I know there's nothing really wrong. I know (s)he will grow out of it. I know they're all wrong."

    And after a while, I had to stop smiling politely and changing the subject. I had to stop making playdates, and even started standing her up. I let myself become the bad guy, the bad friend, the one whose fault it all was, because she was so closed off to any realism on this particular topic. And while I never felt that she was nearing a level of neglect that would make the headlines, I did feel that she was refusing to see her child for who (s)he was, and refusing to accept and love the quirks and challenges of her particular child.

    Sure, I feel guilty about this, even now. Maybe a better friend would have stood up and challenged the woman's views, risked hurting feelings in defense of the child's best interests, something; but I felt like she was already getting clear feedback and was ignoring it, and it was not my place to do more along those lines. Maybe a better friend would have continued to smile politely and ignore the big white elephant. I couldn't do it.

  • I was a member of a different message board for a long time, and a fairly frequent, active participant. There are women there that I care deeply about, to this day, and women I am closer to than many in-real-life friends. But there were two - maybe three, though I was never able to read the third that clearly - who overtly disliked me.

    If they'd hated me from the start, well, sure, I can understand that. After all, I'm not very good with words, and I routinely make random, sweeping generalizations meant to insult whole segments of the population.

    Whatever. Seriously - if they'd disliked me from the start, fair enough. But in these cases, both were close friends to me for quite a while. Sending emails and IM's off the board, confiding in me, letting me confide in them, generally doing those things that one might expect friends to do. Except that the condition of my friendship, with both of them, was that I was not allowed to like or be friends with another board member.

    Yes, it feels like high school. But there's a reason that cliques have such a draw. It feels good to be included, and I totally fell for that for a while. And then I realized, hey, wait, I'm not 16! I can be friends with both. And, for a brief time, I was - until both of those women were clear with me that I was being insensitive and unacceptable and ended the off-board friendship. They were still cute and perky to me in public, but that extra stuff stopped dead. And it hurt.

    (Although, I will admit, the friendship with the "uncool" one has been totally worth the consequences.)

    I've never been able to heal or resolve those friendships; and not for lack of trying. I've sent notes and asked if we could talk about it, and been told, twice, separately, "No." And after time, continuing to share public space with those two women, acting friendly in public while simultaneously shunning me off-board, became toxic for me.

    And so I left. I left 15 dear friends because two were ruining the experience for me. How unfair is that?

  • You get the idea. I don't want to have a bazillion friends, and I don't think I would have a moment's hesitation at ending a friendship with someone who deliberately hurt their children or some other major offense. But I'd like to be more blithe about some things, to be able to just let it go. I have similar stories about family members, but this post is long enough already.

I think that's just about enough blog randomness for me today. Remember that tomorrow, there's this:
One Day Blog Silence I'll see you on Tuesday.