Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sharing that red crayon

Did you have a special friend when you were little?  The "one" special person you would share your red crayon with?

Not just any crayon.  That magical red one. 


Every little kid deserves that one special friend they trust that much.

Sadly, my special friend ran off with my red crayon and then tried to steal my boyfriend to boot. 

And then - years later after I had forgiven her (well, kinda), damned if she didn't try it again.  For real!  She did!  

Try, that is.

This time though, I was ready.  I was no longer the scared little girl who would just stand back and allow herself to be treated badly.  


No one steals this gal's red crayon any more. 

You all know I've been pondering how Meanderings and Muses might be a little different next year.  Different but still maintaining all the things we love - the guests, of course!   Most of them have been lined up.

As I've gone back to read over some of the pieces I've written, I realize that I've danced around a few things.  Things that have hurt me in the past badly enough that they're able to sneak up on me and throw me for a loop all over again.  I start out writing about those things, but back off and do a mini rant never quite getting to the heart of it all. 

I'm making a resolution to keep my dancing and my writing separate from now on, and try to write more honestly.   

None of you who know me would ever accuse me of "holding back."  (did that make you laugh out loud?)  And I don't when it comes to saying what's on my mind.

Saying what's in my heart is a bit different though.

There are a lot of things I carry, just like the rest of you, that just aren't for sharing.  Or if they do get shared, usually it's with Donald.  He's the best friend I wish everyone had.  Well, not "him," but you know  -  someone you know in your heart of hearts that is never ever going to hurt you.  Make me mad as hell?  Oh, yeah.  But disappoint me or hurt me, no.  Well, okay - being honest, I guess perhaps he has.  BUT, I know it's never been intentional, and that's the important thing.

He's one of the very very few who knows just how badly the hurt from all those years ago by the supposed best friend shifted how I felt about things for a number of years.  

The red crayon culprit (let's just call her La Beetch) is still around; but only peripherally.  I see her at reunions and I always speak and spend a little time with small talk.  I no longer hate her because she broke my heart by betraying my trust, we just don't have much in common any longer.  We lived across the street from one another and were in and out of one another's homes on a daily basis.  And then roommates in college.

It's a heartbreak I'll never forget.  Not the guy - but her.  A girl I loved and trusted enough to share my red crayon with for my entire young life.

But you know what - I am one very lucky woman.  I have a life full to brimming with girlfriends I do trust.  Who have earned the trust, and who I hope trust me in the same measure.  Some I've known since elementary school, and some who have been in my life not quite as long, but who have become just as close and just as important.   We may disagree about things from time to time, and we may scrap.  AND, we may have hurt one another from time to time too.  But - not intentionally.  Never intentionally.  And we've gone out of our way to make up for those hurts later.  Because of those things, the friendships have only gotten stronger.

And now I feel free to leave a bunch of those red crayons just scattered about in my life to share with them.  I love that.  'Cause big girls deserve to have someone to share their red crayons with too.

Ladies - You know who you are!  Help yourself to my red crayons, honeys!   

Here's to a life of red crayons and best friends to share them with.

oh.  I almost forgot my point.  Ha!  Imagine that!  My "other" point, that is.  The "new" Meanderings and Muses next year.  I want to tackle some serious topics stemming from a few things that have shaped me into who I am.  And I'd also like to have some of you write a similar piece, IF anyone is willing.  Let me know, okay?

In the meantime - how 'bout you?  Have any of you been hurt badly by a best friend?  Did it change you in ways that lasted for a very long time?  Were you finally able to forgive, forget and move on?


Julia Buckley said...

Well, I did a post once on THIS VERY BLOG about how I never really thought of anyone as my best friend. But I had plenty of hurts in regard to friendships (and boyfriends) and I really do still think of them sometimes.

More interesting, perhaps, is that I sometimes still DREAM about those old hurts, and I'm always young again in those dreams. :)

Elaine Viets said...

Charming blog, Kaye.
Sure, it happened and it hurt. But I was lucky enough to make more new friends and I don't miss the bad ones.

Julie D said...

Kaye, I have had this exact experience. She never got to my husband because I dumped her before she stood a chance, but she did other things. Yes, like you, she is in my life peripherally--friends on Facebook--and she contributes as much there as she did to our relationship all those years ago: next to nothing. As I read your piece I felt like I wrote it myself. Like Julie B., I still have dreams that she and I found each other again, and that the old hurts were erased (or maybe never happened), but it's all just a dream. What I have gained by not having her in my life cannot be measured.

And yes, I'd be honored any time to write a piece on any subject you have in mind. Just let me know.

I selected a red crayon and I will hold it next to my heart. You have been an unexpected blessing in my life and I will always cherish you.


Molly Weston said...

I can't say anyone has hurt me since first grade. One of the girls told me I'd have to bring her a 25-cent Hershey bar if I wanted to play with her at recess. When I asked Mother to get it for me, the story came out--within Daddy's hearing.

He sat me down and explained that if she didn't want to play with me, that was HER problem, not mine and that she'd be very lucky to have me play with her.

Maybe that was my first lesson in self esteem.

BTW no Hershey bars at recess!

Patty said...

Sure, I have been hurt by supposed best friends, but most of them have been little hurts. The one that still hurts happened in college and I don't know that I have ever forgiven her. In fact, I saw her name on Facebook the other day and considered for a minute or two about friending her, and thought, you know, it just isn't worth it!

Kaye, I love the imagery of the red crayon but don't recall being that protective of my crayons. Now, loaning out my precious books? That was a best friend (BFF?)

LJ Roberts said...

It's funny, I'm just sitting here trying to figure out who to respond. Boy, did this bring up some things.

I've never suffered a major hurt from a female friend--a few disappointments in those who were close acquaintances, and a few friends whose lives took them on a different path away from me (and me from them), but no major hurts.

Men: now that's a different story--but not. Pain, certainly, but not from betrayal--unless you can say a relationship just not being right can be a betrayal--but never from a single offense being committed. Hell, one of them is dead and I still haven't quite forgiven the universe for making me go through the experience of him. I must get past that.

I am fortunate to have some wonderful friends. Some friends, I've known for years, some are recent, and some I've never personally met but know are friends in the truest sense of that word. You know who you are. My friends may not only borrow my magic red crayon but, if they need it, have the entire box with my love and blessing.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Aw, Kaye, I would NEVER steal your red crayon--or your boyfriend. I have been blessed with women friends my whole life, and while few of them are available for day to day contact, many scattered all over the world, and some, sadly, gone, I can't imagine life without them.

Judy Hogan said...

Kaye, I love the post, and I will try to write something along this line. Socrates said it's better to suffer harm than to do harm. It is hard to let go of old hurts. I try. Think of Louise's book about forgiveness. A hard thing, but worth working toward. Love from Judy

Anonymous said...

>Were you finally able to forgive, forget and move on?


Hi from Deni Dietz, who is unable to comment as anyone other than Anonymous.

I once submitted to an agent who is, in truth, "responsible" for my success. It's a long story and I'll be glad to write a post on it.

Move on? Sure. But I never forgave her.

Even though I killed her off in one of my books.

Auntie Knickers said...

Thanks for the red crayon! I am so fortunate in my friends -- have not (so far anyway!) suffered any betrayals. I too am grateful to have you in my life and hope we can meet face-to-face someday.

caryn said...

Thank you Kaye for sharing your red crayons!
I was betrayed by one of my closest friends in HS who was also my college roommate freshman year. She stole from me and I have never understood why.
On the other hand, a very dear friend from college-we were in each other's weddings-just disappeared from my life. It seems like she was there and then she wasn't and I never understood why. Letters, cards etc went unanswered for years. We're FB friends now, but only in the loosest sense. I've always assumed I did something to her HER, but I don't know what. I'd do anything to fix that friendship.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks for the red crayon! I love the direction your blog is moving in. :)

I think I move through life in a sort of oblivious fog, but I do remember a former best friend hurting my feelings badly in 5th or 6th grade. I still remember it at 40...

Kaye George said...

Good topic, Kaye. I'll ponder it and, meanwhile, treasure my red crayon. I'm honored to be included here--mind-boggled, really. There have been women and men, and I may have done some damage myself. I think that last haunts me the most sometimes.

Deborah Sharp said...

I love this post, Kaye. Very thoughtful. And thanks for the red crayon. I'll treasure it. I do remember a slight when I was 8 or 9 (funny how I can't find my car keys, but those kinds of memories never fade!) I was a member of a trio of best girlfriends in my neighborhood. My father died, suddenly and unexpectedly. I can still hear the words of one of those girls, discussing me when they thought they were alone: "I don't want to be her friend anymore. Her daddy's dead.''
Kids, right? But it hurts to this day.

Kay said...

Kaye, thank you for the red crayon! I still love to color, especially with my grandchildren.

I can still remember the hurt from childhood 'friends' who really only wanted to be my friend because school was easy for me & they wanted to take advantage of my homework usually being correct.

Then, when older,there were those who wanted to be my 'friends' because of who I knew.

There's also the emotional & physical hurt from the evil ex-husband. I no longer hate, but wouldn't go out of my way to help him from a burning building either! ;-)

There are some other wounds that go pretty deeply, but I spent some time speaking with someone about those and realize now that I'd not be who I am without them, so I can make peace with them because of knowing that.

What a great idea, Kaye! I'm looking forward to the upcoming blog posts.

Barb Goffman said...

I had a friend from elementary school turn on me in junior high, and when I stood up to her, she turned nearly all my friends against me. She eventually called one day out of the blue and apologized, but I didn't buy it. I think she did apologized either because her mother found out what she had done to me, or because she knew we were going to the same camp and might suddenly have thought she would need me. Doesn't matter now after all these years, but I did name several characters in my novel after her and my other "friends" (names changed enough so I know who they are but others wouldn't) and then I killed them all. Hmm. Maybe I still have some issues to work through... Nah. I think I just did.

Thank you, Kaye, for including me here. I am proud to share your red crayon.

Peg Brantley said...

You make me want to cry. And share. And love.

I'm with you, Kaye Barley. And I would love to honor your red crayon by adding my own.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Oh my goodness.

Most of us have had an experience with a mean girl. And - seems I'm not the only one who has carried it with me for a long, long time. WHY did I think I was?? I guess because by not sharing the things in my heart with too many people, it means I haven't learned what's in theirs, which is my loss.

So. Here's a lesson I've learned late - but at least have now learned it.

Donald and Harley and I have just returned from my mom's. Chocolate cake, ice cream, canasta and a lot of belly laughs.

Then when I came home to read about girlfriends and red crayons, I've found myself shedding a few tears. Both here at Meanderings and Muses, and by the notes in my mailbox. Some of you have shared some very personal stories and I love that you trust me enough to do so.

Girlfriends Rock.

Screw the mean girls - who needs 'em anyhow. Not us, for sure.

Hugs my friends - we'll talk more about setting some dates for some more guest blogging a little later.

One thing though - think about this. Some of the writers are going to do "Two Women Chatting" conversations next year. Do any of you want to do that? If you do, contact the person you'd like to have your "chat" with and let me know. We'll set up a date.


Toni L.P. Kelner said...

This made me laugh.

You see my daughter Val and I have a game we play where I stick an unexpected item in her coat pocket, her lunch box, under her pillow, her shoe...

The item?

A red crayon.

So I'd be happy to hide a red crayon for you to find unexpectedly, whenever you like.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this thoughtful blog. I like the thoughtfulness behind it, and the pictures.

And Deni, thanks for the tip. My laptop won't let me comment!! so I'm trying as "anonymous"

Wendy Bartlett

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Kaye, I trying to figure out how to proceed with my blogs, too, how to take on some serious topics while continuing to celebrate the writers, mostly poets and most of those from the mountains, whose work matters to me. And I'm still trying to decide if the time this takes from my own work is worth it right now. We'll see.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Wonderful post, Kaye. And I promise never to steal (or break) this red crayon I picked up. I'll treasure it until you need it back.

I've posted on my own blog about the mean bully girl from my grade school years...but she was never my friend so I can't call it a betrayal. Still, mean hurts, no matter who's dishing it out.

Your thought of writing posts on serious topics that have shaped our lives is intriguing. I'm game to give it a try (as long as I don't have to revisit mean bully girl).

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kaye. A gift of one of your red crayons is definitely to be treasured. Your friendship means a great deal to me.

I never had one of those really close friends until college. Now, thirty-six years later, my college roommate and I are closer than ever. Some of it is proximity. We're only six hours away by car, one hour by plane, and seconds away by phone call.

But, it's one of my sisters who I cherish as my best friend. And, I truly thought I'd hurt her once when I was in about fifth grade, and it was an accident. It bothered me for years. When I mentioned it to her as an adult, she had no memory of it! Linda and I have always shared red crayons. I love the woman she has become.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Kaye, You darling. You never cease to amaze me.

Of course, whatever you say.

Best friends, huh? I've not ure I ever...but that's another story.

love to all..xoxo

Bobbi Mumm said...

Oh, what a lovely post, Kaye. Boy, around sixth grade there were some hurts - but I'm pretty sure it went both ways. I'm now rearing a girl of that age and will impart her with some of this collective women wisdom. Thanks, Kay, and all of you.

Anonymous said...

I firmly believe that you meet people by chance but you become friends with people by choice. So Kaye, I definitely relate to that red crayon and thank you so much for sharing yours with me!

That first big betrayal is devastating and heart-breaking. Yes, I’ve been hurt, but I’ve also learned many lessons along the way. I’m not so good at forgiving deception and to this day I have an amazingly accurate inbuilt lie detector! As I’ve said, we learn things along the way. I don’t give my magical red crayons away too easily, even now that I’m old and wise (and more bomb-proof and too old to dance around things).But I firmly believe that one can never have too many good friends.

I still remember my delight, as a married mother of two young children, to miraculously find a best friend in my adult years. Not my long-suffering husband, because although he’s been around a long time there are some things that he will never understand about me. (I’m complicated and I’m female!) Nearly thirty years later my friend and I are still a two-woman team, a comedy duo, an invincible force, a mutual support base. We’ve laughed together, cried together, chased dreams together and she seems as comfortable to me as an old pair of pyjamas. (That’s a compliment!) Our personalities are chalk and cheese but we try not to stomp on each other’s crayons too often! If you know someone well once, you will always know them.

Magical red crayons are cool! Kaye, you and I are definitely soul sisters and I’m going to send the link to this blog to a few of my red crayon recipients!

Tassie Fran

Bebe said...

Kaye, this is great reading! I have enjoyed reading your meanderings and muses so much and can't wait for the book!

Bebe said...

Great reading! Have enjoyed your Meanderings and Muses so much! Can't wait for the book!

Suzanne said...

Kaye, thank you for such a heartfelt post. You're a unique woman with an endless supply of crayons. I'm grateful for your generosity.

From the number of shared experiences in the comments, it appears that these early hurts are a Rite of Passage, a way for us to learn discernment about character. Ancient Chinese wisdom says that everyone we meet in life is our teacher. If we don't learn a lesson the first time through, we'll see the lesson again, from increasingly harsh teachers, until we finally learn. Sure, it's best to learn the lesson the first time through -- but not all of us do so.

This is about trusting our own instincts and establishing boundaries, yes? At the same time, our society exhorts women to "be nice." Men aren't expected to process such a conflicting social demand. You won't see a "red crayon" post on a guy's blog. :-)

Suzanne Adair

Bobbie said...

Kay, thank you so very much for the magical special red crayon! My favourite color, and I'm holding it near my heart, too. Another unexpected blessing, you and this red crayon, thank you!

I grew up in such a small town there were no girls my age-my sister had a best friend in town, I read books. Had some friends in school but no best friend till college and those drifted from me after college--except the 'best' friend I'd made there, we kept in touch though far in miles, but eventually drifted apart. I guess I never had a best friend, till I got older and more mature, and now I have some very dear friends-we'd definitely share red crayons--but we're independent spirits sharing our hearts and minds with caring. The mystery world has given me some wonderful friends, who have lasted for decades now and share more than books, are kindred spirits, have actually visited me here from far away, and me their places too. Some boyfriends really betrayed me, but that's another story.

I don't miss the people who treated me badly-I think of them sometimes and use the words my husband taught me: "their loss"...and go read a book or pet my dog or talk with husband while sitting on front porch or by the wood stove. And I have to say, thinking about this red crayon will help me through some dreary days, thanks Kay! And thanks to all the posters, I feel quite special now.

Eve Barbeau said...

There is something about being honest on the page that draws us together. Yet, I too often find myself dancing around what I really meant to say. Sometimes, that's a darn good thing and other times it would benefit us all if I spoke my truth. I think sometimes I'm the friend who lets people down. Not because I intentionally plan to hurt, but because I can get so caught up in my own little world that I don't give friends the attention they need and deserve. Bravo for you honesty and I hope your vision for your blog is a wonderful success. Somehow I just know it will be.

Diane Chamberlain said...

Kaye, I love your idea for more serious, heartfelt posts next year and look forward to writing one of them.

I remember small betrayals by semi-girlfriends when I was a kid, but what really hurts is something more recent. Not a betrayal, exactly, but a disappearance. A dear friend of twenty years emailed to say she was severing our friendship. No explanation. No response to my emails, in which I apologized for whatever unknown thing I'd done. No chance for understanding. From time to time, I think of contacting her to see if our friendship can be saved, but I'm afraid of feeling her rejection once more.

I'm blessed to have many friends and every one of them is special, which is why losing one without knowing why is like having a broken red crayon in my box. I take it out every once in a while and stare at it sadly, but I can't seem to throw it away.

Gillian Roberts said...

Thank you for the red crayon and the memories (even if they were painful) that crayon 'drew' for me! Oddly enough, I don't remember a friend, best or otherwise, betraying the friendship--but I had two friends whose parents manipulated things, one in a particularly unbelievable dramatic and heartrending that I'd never try to use it in my fiction!
In any case, this is a great idea, Kaye, charmingly presented, and I'd be glad to share those stories (or whatever else you wanted) and would, with great interest, read what others write.
It's lovely to be grown-up and well past allowing a lot of these things--these people--from being part of our lives, isn't it?
Thanks, Kaye! Signing off with my red crayon, Judy, aka Gillian

Jinx Schwartz said...

I never lived anywhere long enough to have a best friend. I do keep in touch with the friend I had my senior high school year in Texas, and when we get together it's like the past umpteen years never happened. As we reminisce, the years fall away and we are, once again, the "wild" ones, separated from the rest (all 20) of the graduating class by the fact that we'd actually been OUT of Texas. (She to California and me to, well, everywhere.)
Anyhow, it is nice to now have a crayon-sharing friend. Thanks, Kaye, for your introspective blog, and please, please, don't stop the rants. They are wonderful!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I deleted my post 'cause I messed it up - grrr! But (hopefully) have corrected it.

I have lots I want to add to all your responses which are moving and heartbreaking and wonderful and heartwarming, but it's going to take me awhile, I think, to think through.

Diane, you, my dear, have hit on something else I want to talk about and am working on writing, as we speak. Those "friends" who find it easy to be our friends when things aren't really going so well. But have a VERY hard time loving us and being supportive when we're on top of the world.
The have a very hard time saying "Well done, I'm proud of you." So, say nothing and pretend the accomplishment just doesn't exist.

There's a "breed" of those people. I have some fairly recent experience in this and it's one of the issues I'm trying very hard to write about.

I'm sorry for the hurt you're experiencing and the puzzlement you're feeling about this. And I think it was especially selfish of her to make her exit without the explanation deserved. It was, besides selfish, cowardly and tacky, I think. And you deserve better.

sending a heartfelt hug,

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Jinx. Honey, you crack me up!! and i love that.

The rants (as you well know) aren't gonna stop. Much to some folks' chagrin. LOL! Ranting is one of the things I love best! Mine AND other peoples' !

jenny milchman said...

Oh Kaye, I began reading this, and what was on my mind was my *daughter's* red crayon friend who just betrayed her--at the ripe old age of 8. I was thinking are red crayon stealers rife in every generation? Is it inevitable?

I've had a couple of my own, and I'm sorry for the one you still have to trade small talk with, forgiven or not.

And I would love to write--and more importantly, read--a post on any such topic.

Here's to dancing and the friends who want to trade crayons back and forth forever.

I know you have those, and they (we) are lucky to have you.

N. J. Lindquist said...

Oddly enough, this is right in my wheelhouse since the book I'm attempting to find time to write these days is a memoir, mostly about my childhood and adolescence.

Your story here definitely resonates. However, I was the quiet, intelligent child who was always a little different, and never really had a best friend or someone who would have considered me her best friend. Always felt if I didn't keep up the contact no one else would. Not sure I've ever gone shopping with a friend.

For whatever reason, I grew up expecting people to dislike me, and always told people books were my best friends.... safer that way.

Kelli Stanley said...

Kaye, you are an angel and I'd never, ever steal your red crayon. In fact, I'd share my midnight blue with you! :)

Thanks for a lovely, special post!!!


Carolyn J. Rose said...

Some of those old hurts are still raw for me, but apparently not for the one who inflicted the pain. Said person recently wanted to be friends on Facebook. Anyone want to take a wild guess about my reply?

Sandra Parshall said...

Like Julia, I've never thought of anyone as a best friend, but I've had plenty of disappointments in relationships I had believed were friendships. These things have happened not just in childhood or my teens but also long into adulthood. Like the aspiring writer friend/critique partner who blew up at me and cut me off cold when I landed an agent before she did. And the person who is my friend when it suits her and my enemy when it suits her, without any provocation on my part. I no longer regard her as either friend or enemy; I consider her a nuisance to be treated with extreme wariness.

Close, dependable friendship is rare. Casual friendship, without a lot of demands, is much more common, and often that's enough.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

This was great. I think we've all had similar experiences, even more than one. Now that I'm ancient, I've forgotten most of that kind of hurt, thankfully.


Kaye George said...

I read this in an advice column recently (Carolyn Hax): Friends with a low decency content need to be treated as junk food, not as the stuff that sustains you.

Mary Welk said...

Fantastic post, Kaye. And thank you for sharing your red crayons. I will treasure mine.

I had a best friend when I was in grade school. Kathy and I were tomboys, the two of us riding our bikes around the neighborhood every free minute we had and generally just having a ball together. We were in 6th grade when Kathy, who lived in an apartment on the next block, told me her parents had bought a house and they were moving out of the neighborhood. Kathy was so excited, and I was excited for her. About a week later my parents announced we were moving, too. I couldn't wait to tell Kathy, but when I did, she didn't seem as happy for me as I had been for her. Truth is, she said very little in response, and that puzzled and hurt me. We moved within weeks of each other and I never saw Kathy again. It was only after I'd grown up a bit more that it hit me why Kathy hadn't responded as I'd hoped: I'd stolen her thunder. This was her big moment. All the neighborhood kids were talking about her and her family and their new home. But then I came along with my news and the interest switched to me and to where I was moving. Kathy's family had always lived in apartments, so moving into their first house was a really big deal. My family, on the other hand, already lived in a house, and we were only moving because my dad's company had moved to the suburbs. It wasn't intended, but my news coming right on the heels of Kathy's more or less detracted from all the attention she was getting from our friends. I can't blame her for being ticked off, although she never came right out and told me that. But I missed her friendship for many years after that and always wished we could have gotten back together again.

I'm glad to know you're considering discussing some deeper subjects next year, Kaye. We all have stories of how and why we came to be the people we are today, and sometimes it's good to share those stories.