Thursday, February 27, 2014

True friends

I guess there are all different kinds and levels of friendships, but with the exception of one or two people, I've always had a hard time opening up and letting myself be vulnerable.

My life-long friend, Tyler, knows me inside and out. We practically grew up together and our birthdays are just a week apart and we have a tradition of celebrating them together. He's actually the one who introduced Brad and I. They were both working together at this grocery store when they were 17, and Tyler invited him to his/our eighteenth birthday party, and the rest is history with Brad and I.

I was chatting with a friend of mine about Tyler the other night and she asked me what gives our friendship "staying power." This is how I answered her:

He gets me. And I get him. We've been through a lot together and had serious talks and shallow talks (lol). We share a lot of the same values and we're somewhat competitive with each other as far as sports are concerned. And he totally accepts me for who I am. And vice versa. He's very patient with me as far as my ADHD is concerned. We've shared secrets with each other and trust each other without reservation.

Tyler is the first boy I ever had a crush on. He's straight but when we hit puberty, my hormones sort of went haywire. And the cool thing about our friendship is that I felt totally comfortable telling him I liked him -- as a friend -- and maybe as a boyfriend.

It sorta freaked him out at first, but not like he thought it was disgusting. He actually thought I was just kidding around and trying to get a rise out of him. Little did he know at first that I was sorta hoping for a "rise" of a different kind! LOL

But it was just a "phase, " I guess. Not talking about being gay, but a phase in the sense that he was my closest friend and and I felt comfortable with him. We never did anything sexual because that's just not how our relationship worked, but he's extremely attractive and my hormones were running wild.

I respected him enough not to press things, and he respected me enough not to make me feel like I was disgusting. Neither one of us wanted to do anything that might jeopardize our friendship. We very quickly moved through this phase I was going through and life went on.

I remember the doctor I'm seeing for my ADHD meds asking me once if I had "enough" friends in my life. It was an easy question and I answered quickly, "Yeah, I'm friends with a lot of people."

Then he asked, "How many of these friends know 'the real you'? Not just facts about your life, but know what really goes on inside your head and your fears and your doubts?"

Well. . . . . . . . I don't open up easily about the serious stuff in my life. Tyler and Brad are probably the two people in my life who know most everything about me. Brad knows more, but Tyler would probably not be surprised if he knew everything Brad knows.

I'm very protective of my heart. I rarely go into a lot of detail about really serious things in my life. This is what goes through my head: I don't want to burden people. I don't want people to know I sometimes think I'm screwed up inside. I'm terrified of what people might think if I start crying. I have to know and trust you really, really well before I show you my tears. It's a very intimate thing with me.

And there's the whole thing about how difficult and complicated my brain gets when I'm confused about why a relationship is not working right. If there's a problem, I tend to royally screw things up because I start getting flooded with too much information that I have a hard time sorting out. Then when I can't sort things out, I start thinking the other person is totally responsible for the problem we're having. Things start snowballing and I tend to blow things way out of proportion. It's not a pretty picture.

I'm pretty lucky to have Brad and a few select people in my life who are patient with me and care enough to let me vent and then know when I need to stop venting and get back into my rational mind. Sometimes there are key words that calm me and help ground me. "Breathe" is one of them. Just hearing that word calms me down.

I'm not sure why I'm writing so much about all this. I think writing things out helps me organize my thinking. And maybe just to let you know that if you and I have a problem in our friendship, I promise to take it seriously and take responsibility for my part in it. I'm probably going to need some time while I try to get grounded so I can think clearly. But I promise to try my best to get there. And I promise to take it seriously so we can keep it.

I want to be a good friend to others. I need to learn how to be a friend to myself.

I'm trying. I really am.

19 comments:

  1. Wow Matt, how'd you get to be so smart? I love this line especially:

    I want to be a good friend to others. I need to learn how to be a friend to myself.

    Start every day with that line. If we can accept that we're imperfect and still lovable, we can accept it in others. ((Hugs))

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  2. I completely understand being protective of your heart and emotions Matt.
    I have a hard time letting people in too, there are a few select people that I completely trust and that works for me
    I have a feeling most people in your life would say you were a good friend :)
    Hugs to you!

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  3. I don't even know what to say, because this post hit me in the chest in ways I don't even understand. So I will just say that I am always in awe of the eloquence with which you express yourself, Matt. I, too, loved the last bit. Being a friend to yourself is important to being a friend to others. Big hugs to you.

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  4. What a thoughtful and thought provoking post, Matt. *hugs*

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  5. Matty,

    You are so good at being aware of and working through your issues. I'm glad writing it all down helps. You've always come across here as being someone who wants to be a good friend. I'm sure it's as true in RL as well. A beautifully-expressed, well-written post. Thank you for sharing with us. (((Hugs)))

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  6. If it helps, you're not alone. Few people know me well enough in my eyes, though there are certainly some who believe they do. I got tired of being disappointed. So if I'm really, really good friends with someone, it's because we have many years of getting to know each other under our belts.

    And that's the way it is.

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  7. Every time I read one of your posts, I am struck by just how courageous you are to put so much of yourself out there for us. This is very thought provoking. How many "real" friends do I have who get me and take me the way I am?

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  8. Wow, are you guys me? LOL I know tons of people, I have friends on-line, close friends, but I can probably count on one hand the number of people who REALLY know what I'm thinking and feeling. Okay, probably a cartoon person hand with four fingers, who had two amputated in his youth. :-) I come from a family where we don't talk about deep stuff much, so I suppose I'm following on in the footsteps. I guess I'm not sure I want to change it really. Do I? Should I? I don't know.

    So you are not alone and if you feel you want to expand that circle of friends, great. But to be honest, I guess I come from a place where I don't see the need for tons of people to know me that well. I cherish my privacy and I enjoy living in a large city where no one knows me and I never see anyone I know. (cue socially reclusive hermit music) However being a good friend to yourself is never a bad thing. :-)

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  9. I'm with you Matt, I only have a couple of really close friends who know "me" like no one else. My husband is one, we started out as friends first, and my best friend since 2nd grade. I don't talk to her as much as I'd like to but when we get together it's like picking up where we left off.
    I think a person is really lucky if they can say they have one or two friends that know everything about them.
    *on a side note: I sent you and Brad a message on goodreads but I'll post the info here in case you don't go on goodreads all the time. I saw this on twitter and wanted to pass it on in case it interests you.
    @NOH8Campaign: #NOH8 returns to #Boston this SUNDAY, MARCH 2ND at the @WestinWaltham! Join us from 2-5pm to pose for your photo: http://t.co/gkMlEgrnPx

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  11. Your eloquence and maturity is awesome, Matt. I can so relate to your main message here, and I <3 your last sentence/quote, and can see that it is a statement I need to integrate into my own internal dialogue. :)

    I don't have any really close friends, and certainly nobody how knows me completely. I moved around from the age of 18 until a few years ago (either for school or work) which made it difficult as such relationships takes time to develop, and my old school/childhood friends chose very different paths and we grew apart on so many levels. I do miss it sometimes, but it is what it is, and I live vicariously through my FB friends (not in a stalkerish way though!). :)

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  12. Oh Matt, I love your posts for their honesty and sweetness. I too have trouble making close friends. I am outgoing and I know a lot of people, but I hold myself back from real deep friendships because I am always afraid that no one will actually like me, if they ever got to know "the real" me. Ah, well, that's my problem I guess...

    I like the last line of this post: "I'm trying. I really am." I think that is the key to all friendships, and relationships. As long as you are willing to keep trying, there is hope that the relationship will continue. No matter how bad the fight, or the misunderstanding, no friendship is over until one or both people stop trying.

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  13. Mattie, you've got the 'being a friend' part down perfectly. No worries there. But yeah, you always are too hard on yourself. Be gentle! You're amazing. Sure, you might blow things 'out of proportion' sometimes, but that's just because you care so much. That's not a bad thing, and the people who love you will understand that, if you give them time. Hugs!

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  14. Hi Matt,

    I think you are very fortunate to have 2 very close friends (Brad and Tyler) that know you deeply and love you for who you are. That is 2 more than a lot of people can claim.

    Even if it is difficult to open up to people in the real world (something I can relate to), you have done a great job opening up to us and we most definitely appreciate that. Also very much like what we see!

    Andy

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  15. I had to stop and think to figure out if I had any friends like Tyler and Brad. I think the answer is "no". There's a few that know a lot, but none that know all of me, or that have been around for so long. You're a lucky guy.

    I don't think anyone can have too many friends, but at the same time, there are probably some kind of unconscious limits to how many you make that become a Tyler or a Brad.

    Look how much you've opened up to us. And who knows, you might actually meet some of us one day! And we'd know a lot about you!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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  16. You are a good friend to have, Matty.
    -Shell

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  17. Matt, anyone would would be lucky to have you as a friend. Rarely do you find those that want to see what's beyond the surface to get to know the real person. You and Tyler are incredibly lucky for being friends for so long. Hang on tight to that, okay? Tears are such a hard thing to share. They put us in a vulnerable position and I understand why trust is involved when sharing them. As far as your love...I truly believe you and Brad were destined for each other, meant to be.

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  18. Everyone above has made some great points, so I'll only say: You're lucky to have such close friends in Tyler and Brad, and they're lucky to have such a wonderful friend as you. I'm glad I have you as a FB friend, you frequently make me laugh, think and smile xx

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  19. I'm glad you have Tyler in your life.

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