friendships, trust, and what it means to be reliant.

Posted on March 19, 2014 | 3 comments

friendships, trust, and what it means to be reliant.

my friend Kate recently wrote a post about her friendships and how she does, or doesn’t, rely on people and what that says about trust and vulnerability. i started to comment, and realized i have my own story to tell.

when i was in my early 20s my life was an unholy mess, most of the time. i relied in my small friend circle for absolutely everything – without them, i would have crumpled right into the ground and never gotten up. i called them, i chatted them, i visited them, i said “help me.” i said it a lot, and they never faltered. they’re almost all gone, now. and those wounds gouged me in huge ways – i’ve written about them before, about a boy in minnesota and a girl who lied and there are other stories that i don’t even know how to tell.

i’ve crawled into a shell since then, since even after then, and it would be easy to say it is because they hurt me. but it’s not just the loss of them that’s formed my habits today. you get more private as you get older, you hold your truths, your secrets, closer to the chest, you narrow down what love and friendship mean. i was once the most raw creature, you could see all of my facts written across everything i said or did. i would lay them bare for you with the slightest provocation. i’m not this, anymore, and it’s not just because i was hurt. the answers are rarely so simple.

i’ve turned over in my mind, a thousand times, the balance between what is normal, what i should be, how i should act, and what is the overprotection of my heart. i don’t know where the bar balances – i don’t know where the middle point is. (i rarely do.)

there was a moment a while back where everything was terrible and the bouncer and i were in a horrific fight and i sat at the computer and stared at my gchat, all of the green and red and orange dots and went through every name and said “there is no one i can talk to. not because they would not listen, but because i will not let myself need them.” it hit me like the proverbial brick wall, and it made everything about the moment worse. i cried harder – the holes are so much more desperate when you’re alone in them.

there’s no neat and tidy answer here. i’m working on it slowly, just like i have been for the past few years. there are crests and valleys, times when friends tell me they miss me and ask me where i’ve gone, times when someone will ask why i’ve been mean and i have to admit it is self defense, times when i feel the glowlight of real connection buzzing right in the middle of my chest. it’s a journey, right?

3 Comments

  1. It’s a journey, yeah. But if you think it only goes in one direction like you’re driving to cottage country, well. Then you’re going to wind up genuinely stumped with WTF.

    (derail: WHY OH WHY does that pretty picture not show up in Feedly? IT’S SO PRETTY.)

    I remember once you called Old Dominique a wrist-slitty little thing and I loved the music of that phrase so it’s stayed in my head. But everyone is a little wrist-slitty sometimes. Even when they have outgrown their hot mess stage in life, they still visit it from time to time because living is not easy and it backs up on us and then you have times when you can’t talk to people because God, once you know your friends so well you generally know what they’re going to say and you know whether you can take hearing it or not. Sometimes you can’t. (At least I know I can’t sometimes. And if I feel a thing I automatically assume that everyone feels it at least on occasion. It’s my narcissism.)

    To hell with neat and tidy answers. This is not a homework assignment where you get evaluated on how well you proved your thesis. I am all about the mess these days because it feels the most human.

  2. “The holes are so much more desperate when you’re alone in them.” YES, THIS. I love this post, Dominique, & I agree that it’s really hard to find that balance between independence & acceptable levels of friendship dependence, especially for people who used to be particularly messy or raw or unrefined or needy. It’s a long lesson to be learned, & I’m not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable with reaching out to people when I need them most.

  3. i’ve turned over in my mind, a thousand times, the balance between what is normal, what i should be, how i should act, and what is the overprotection of my heart. i don’t know where the bar balances – i don’t know where the middle point is. (i rarely do.)

    I feel like this a lot, but you put it better than I ever could.

    I wonder how much of this is different for our generation because of the internet, and how much of it was felt when so much as communicated by letter – did people manage their secrets in the same way? Was trust different then?

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