Last year, Boy #3 (who we affectionately refer to as “Grandpa” even though he’s only 11) was the only kid in this neighborhood at his school. The bus had to come all the way to our neighborhood, which is at the edge of the district for just him. I was excited for this year because his sister could go to the same school he attends. On the first day, another boy appeared at the bus stop and we discovered that he only lives around the corner from us. And a few blocks away, another boy rides their bus too. So now there’s FOUR kids in this neighborhood going to the same school. The boy around the corner is the same age as Grandpa, which is great!
This boy’s mom and stepdad take turns bringing him to the bus stop and his little sister has come a couple of times. She’s two and pretty fun. The parents have never come to the bus stop together but the mom has said a few things that made me think things are not ok at home. The boy is withdrawn and upset when the stepdad brings him but joyful when his mom brings him. It’s been puzzling.
This morning, she and I ended up talking for awhile. We were both in the Air Force, although she was only in for 4 years. We had some similar negative experiences and suffered through some terrible things in the Air Force. She has a lot of anxiety and trouble with being home alone at night while her husband works nights. She also told me that he was recently diagnosed with bipolar. He had a suicide attempt and ended up at a facility for a few days. I know they are trying him on new medications to find the best fit. She has talked about him being on a new medication that works better for him.
Part of me thinks I am just nosy and I feel happy that I know what’s going on now. But I think that’s the part of me that leans negative and thinks that I’m always bad. What I really think happened is that I could sense she needed a friend and I let her know over the past month and a half that she could talk to me safely. I also told her a few things about me and my life. I will let her take the lead in how much more she wants to share, but I feel better now, like she has someone who can help her and will listen to her. I know what it feels like to live in a tumultuous marriage and how alone it makes you feel. I am glad that I can be there to listen plus our kids get alone really well and both her son and my two have talked about having the other over at their house. We exchanged phone numbers too. They only have one car, so I also told her if she ever needs a ride to the store while her husband is at work, I can give her a ride. Sure it’s walkable, but it’s a bit of a long walk with a two year old in tow.
Something I really love about myself is my ability to make friends who are willing to share deep stuff pretty quickly in our friendship. I have a way about me (that I don’t fully understand) that makes people want to share with me. I don’t ever mind to listen to people, especially kind people who find themselves in a tough situation. She’s a nice person who would help me out if I needed it too.
This feels very significant to me in a way that I am working to understand. I feel fulfilled in my life in general. I don’t feel like I need a lot of help in life in general and so I am not making friends because I feel needy. And then I step back from that and think about how hard it is for me to trust. Do I pull myself back from developing friendships because I don’t want to APPEAR needy or because I am scared to get close? Both of those upset me because I am working so hard on not hiding anymore, but this new friendship makes me realize how much damage still exists inside me and how much more work there is to do. When I think about this developing friendship in terms of how I can help her but not about what she can offer me, I am selling her short and making myself the type of friend who just gives. It’s a one-sided friendship and it grows with me giving and them wondering why I don’t trust them the way they trust me. I share enough to build the friendship and then shut down what is inside me.
This woman though, she is different. She specifically mentioned how she’s from Seattle and very accepting of everything and talked about how she knows people who are gender fluid. I feel that she would be safe for me. She would accept and understand my truth. She could be a friend that I won’t have to hide from. That’s what all of my hiding is about; making sure no one could ever see Little Zander. But something tells me she is safe. She will be ok when I am ready to tell her.
I need to stop looking at myself at only good when I am serving other people. I am just as worthy of support and friendship as anyone else.
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