Of Friends and Asses

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
John Lydgate

For my amazing, fascinating, incredible, irreplaceable, marvelously wonderful friends.

I visited a fellow Word Presser’s blog and it got me thinking. You can read Dawn’s post, if you like, but basically in it she tells of the loss of a close friendship – as in, a close friend cut Dawn off for some unexplained reason. Dawn had been grieving the loss for a long time when she saw the woman in a grocery store and was unsure how to react, so she hid to avoid contact.

After reading the post, I tried to think of a time when this happened to me and could not. Granted, when you move as often as I have, it’s damn hard to run into a long-time friend in the grocery store, and few long-distance friendships can stand the test of separation – some just fall by the wayside take care of themselves. But, more often than not, my particular personality does not tend to attract the type of person who would do to me what Dawn’s friend did to her.

Know thyself.

That has become a theme with me lately. In June and July of this year, I spent several weeks listening to someone tell me that I am a horrible, toxic person, and their words got me to soul searching. Since I believe there is a grain of truth to just about every criticism anyone might give, I spent an evening as the lead character in It’s a Wonderful Life, considering whether the people I know and love would be better off if I were dead had never been born. That didn’t last as long as the movie once I remembered that the person speaking into my life has virtually no intimate friends of their own (always check the source, people).

Instead of doing myself harm (even believing the stuff I was hearing would have been harmful), I decided to poll my close friends to see if any of them agreed with my accuser. There was not a yes from the lot. Now, that could be because I’ve surrounded myself with a bunch of toadies, but I don’t believe the strong women I am blessed to call friends come anywhere near fitting that bill. Not a one of them would put up with me if they did not want to. Besides, what drew me to them and them to me is our mutual propensity for strong, open opinions. And truth.

Truth – authenticity and integrity put together into a person – is the key ingredient to any relationship with me.

I would hope all of my friends know that if they have a bone to pick with me, they should voice it tout suite – to me! Yeah, that is one of my pet peeves – don’t go blabbing your complaint about one person to someone else! That’s the harbinger of death to any relationship.

I have had my foot down my throat more times than I can count, and have (necessarily) learned to say, “I’m sorry” and mean it. I realize that those words cannot heal all wounds, but they sure do help. Thing is, any person I hurt has done their share of hurting others (or me) too – we all do this. The only way you will ever avoid messing up, stepping on someone’s toes, or hurting someone’s feelings is to hole yourself up and never go out in public! It’s ridiculous to assume we will not hurt each other – and most of the time without meaning to or even being aware we did it. An openness to acknowledging our own faults really does help (laughter and alcohol, too, but that’s for another post). Giving people the benefit of the doubt (just assume your friend did not mean to hurt you – because they actually didn’t) really, really helps.

The people who would do to me what Dawn’s friend did to her would likely never get close enough to me for it to make a dent. Thick skin helps. Maybe that’s why I’m so prickly – I have to make sure you have thick skin before I get too close. If I sense that you don’t, I back away – for both our sakes. I know what it’s like to live with me – sometimes not so great. But I also hope my friends know that my love and loyalty are fierce. I would lay down my life for every last one of the women in my life, no question. I would go to war (so to speak) with or for them, no question (and, at times, I have). I know without a doubt they would do the same for me. I hope I am wise enough now to avoid handing my heart to someone who’s likely to throw it under the bus. Too bad I didn’t know better than that before I got married. 😉

I learned to be content with who I am long ago – I actually like me – and I get that most of the people on this planet are not going to. It’s OK …

  1. I am loud (my teenage man-child hates this about me; when I told my cousin that, she said, “But you’re an Ameen, as if that explains everything … ),
  2. I am outspoken (I’ve been told since I was a child that I am too opinionated – but it hasn’t stopped me yet),
  3. I am abrasive at times (every emotion I have knows my sleeve better than I do), and anger is a well-worn tool in my arsenal.

I totally get that I make a whole boat load of folks run for the hills uncomfortable. But, then, I gave up long ago trying to please pretty much anyone but me. That does not mean that I go out of my way to offend (although, there is a time and a season for everything).

My heart is broken for Dawn. I offered to come shopping with her next time and kick that ex-friend’s ass – at the very least, beat an explanation out of her. I think Dawn is too sweet to let me do that, though. And while I could sit and wonder how many friends I might have missed out on having because of my ‘devil-may-care’ attitude, I will not waste the time I have been given with the amazing ones I do have on such a useless exercise.

There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.
Martha Graham

What about you? Do you know yourself? Are you happy with who you are, or are you blocking the unique expression that is you? Just remember, you’re all of you we’ve got, so shine on!

Day 28 NaBloPoMo 2015

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