to me, coming from you, friend is a 4-letter word…
(clock that reference?)
I think maybe I don’t understand what it means to be a friend. You see, Reader, no one ever told me what friendship was about. I remember being a little bear and hearing my parents say to me, “never have close friends. Letting someone in is giving them the ammunition to shoot you down later.” So I learned early on that revealing your true self, especially any level of vulnerabilities, was simply put: wrong. I learned that to trust another person besides your family or spouse, was to ask to be betrayed; literally akin to sending betrayal a formal invitation. I was also raised to believe that emotional attachment to friends was for the weak. I was taught this at an early age but, more importantly, I believed it. I felt it to my core; and combined with some less that favorable experiences – it became a core element of my belief system as I reached the age of young adult.
...End is the only part the word that I heard…”
Now, as an adult, I find myself struggling to release that belief which has now been so ingrained in my heart and soul; so much so that I catch myself subconsciously setting up emotional and mental safeguards from my friends. If I think we have been friends for too long and an expiration date is impending, I begin pushing people away; before they leave me. I don’t know how to express emotional care for others; so I give them gifts or do things for them because verbal emotional expressions are a weakness that can be used against you. Sounds crazy, huh? Except it isn’t. Think about all the different ways you protect yourself from hurt. Think about all the ways you approach others for approval and emotional connection. It may be similar thoughts and actions, or vastly different; But we all have our thing. I’m just the asshole out here blogging about it.
As much as I am aware of my behavior, I am also often validated in my beliefs. Of course, you’re thinking, ‘you choose to consider certain experiences as validation!’ You are correct! But don’t we all? For example, I had a friend who I thought I connected with on a level deep enough to consider him my brother from another mother. And then one day, he ghosted me. I couldn’t even tell you the exact day because my dumb ass spent weeks texting and calling him thinking there was something wrong or there had been a misunderstanding. And the worst part? I didn’t think he would be the type of person to do such a thing. Which led me to believe if he was capable of ghosting me, then so are any of you.
Then there’s the gay part of it all…
Another terrifying aspect of friendship is the gayness of it all. If you are (like myself) LGBTQIA+ this means that you have at least once been accused of being in love with your friend simply because of your sexual orientation. I came out of the closet at a young age, long before you kids thought it was cool or acceptable, and besides the many black eyes and name-calling experiences, there was an even more painful element; people using your sexual orientation against you. I could never understand why my sexual orientation meant I wanted to sleep with everyone I knew – but many made that assumption.