No. This is not going to be a “Not Just Friends” rant. Of course, it is a good book. Especially if you somehow missed the memo in life about boundaries, but I digress!
I had a lovely life, good income, great kids, enjoyed my lifestyle, worked hard, connected with my environment, worked with animals and the land, possessed a finely tuned social conscience (a chequebook liberal, I guess 😉 .) But, the icing on the cake way back then was, I had LOVELY friends. I am not close with my family. My darling Mum died thirteen years ago. My Dad is a depressed life-sucking leech really, I mean, I spent time with him, he is my father, and I care about him, but his outlook is none too sunny, so best avoided unless you need some balancing out after partying on ecstasy for a week. My sister has lived in another country since I was ten years old. One of my younger brothers, who I don’t have a lot in common with – and who frankly is a pompous, entitled arsehole – lives in London. My youngest brother lives at the other end of the country, we get on really well, but don’t see each other, so our contact is through social media. But I had GREAT friends. So, when bad things happen, you have them, right? I had supported one in particular. My best friend in the world, whom I’ve known since I was ten and she was eleven years old, had been through some tough stuff. She suffered some mental health turmoil years ago, I was there for her, when she couldn’t leave the house with anxiety. She came to the same uni as me in our second year, and we flatted together. We told each other our deepest, darkest secrets, we drank a lot of wine together. I was excited when her five babies came into the world. She was the sister I never really had (mine is lovely, but we were never close, a large age gap, she was adopted into our family as young teen when we were babies and toddlers, and lives in Perth, Western Australia.) My friend, is the fourth of eight Irish Catholic children. Her Mum was my second one, and mine was hers. I love her siblings like they are my own, so much fun! Her Mum died about two years before mine did, and she also lost her dad a few years later, we were already close, but bonded in grief, and forged by shared experience. She was the best. But there were others, we had a neat little network of people that we were very social with.
When D-day hit, and the next morning dawned, I drove to her house. It was a Sunday morning, and I asked her if we could go for a walk together. I told her. I didn’t think I would tell anyone, we were going to stay together, how embarrassing if anyone KNEW! But, it poured out of me, like it would have to my mother if she had still been alive. She held me and shook her head in disbelief. “Not Norm (his nickname around town.) NO! NO! Not Norm. Oh, SHIT! Are you okay? What can I do, do you need somewhere to stay?” In short, she was supportive and pissed off at Rog, but understanding of my reasons for staying – for now – and giving it another shot. She repeated that we were the LAST couple she thought this would happen to, we were so “in love” so real, so connected. She liked Rog. We were the longest together of anyone we socialised with, by at least a decade.
That was nice. I needed that.
It didn’t last. All of my “lovely friends” are no longer. I do not have anything to do with any of them. I am a leper, and it might be contagious. I think I lost some kind of “social standing” by “allowing” my man to cheat!!! Yes, you heard right, they judge ME for what HE did. It hurt. It still hurts a little, but not so much anymore. I am disappointed that this part of my life was also a lie, but I know they were not friends. True friends do not behave in such a callous manner.
Last night, we had a RARE invite to someone who was close to that circle’s 50th birthday party. This couple both cheated on their spouses to “be together” – and that in itself is hard to take. It was many years ago now, but I remember. So, I very reluctantly got myself dressed to the nines, in spike heels I could barely walk in – and I wear high, high heels all the time – looking a million bucks, and went along. I lasted half an hour. I hated it. I hated the superficiality of the party (hey, I used to LOVE to party, who is this person who lives in my body now?) So, I tiptoed out the door, quietly, without telling anyone, and went and lay down, trying to sleep, in the back of the car for nearly four hours. It was bloody freezing! Roger eventually appeared and asked where I had been, was I okay (it was a large party, he just thought I was in another room, until he went looking for me.) I don’t want anything to do with any of them anymore. It’s hard, I have tried, this past five years, to hold my head up, and to move forward. But, I don’t really like these people. It has dawned on me that they are getting more and more privileged, more and more self-centred (says the woman who has her own blog – about ME – LOL.) They are vacuous, and it’s not even their fault. Most of them haven’t had to deal with a big life event yet. Yes, there were two cancer survivors there, that I did enjoy talking to, and my cousin, who has a different take on things, and it was good to see him. But mostly, I don’t want to have to try to make small talk, look interested and pretend my life is okay anymore. I resigned my membership to that club a while back, and re-entering the doors made me realise that I had made the right decision, I don’t miss any of it. I got a few up and down looks that night, I saw those women give me the once over, like I was something smelly that they hadn’t managed to wipe off the bottom of their shoes.
And, that is finally okay.