This is a topic I've danced around about here for a couple of years. Maybe since the very beginning of Meanderings and Muses, actually.
You all know by now how I feel about friendship and connections and loyalty. It means a lot to me to have the friends I have. Friends I cherish and who I know, deep in my heart of hearts, cherish me back. This does not mean everything is rosy all the time. Just like in a marriage, there are going to be differences of opinion - and there should be. Those people who tell me they've never had a cross word with their spouse are, frankly, people I tend to shy away from. I think they're either not being truthful (maybe only with themselves), or they're so insecure they don't feel comfortable stating or sticking up for their own opinions. Or - God forbid - they really don't have their own opinion, and allow their thoughts to be formed and molded by others.
All this is the truth as I see it. Loyalty is just part of the equation of friendship. As is generosity. Or so I thought.
I've always recognized that there are people in my life who I think of as friends who I also have a competitive relationship with. And it has always made me uncomfortable. But when the competitiveness turns into something I feel is unhealthy, then I'm outta here.
I fought some feelings of disappointment when I first started telling some friends about starting Meanderings and Muses. Some seemed a little dismissive. I tried to be a big girl about it by telling myself, "Well, you know, it is just a blog. Not a biggie."
Then I went through it again when I had my very first piece published in a regional anthology.
And again, I told myself, "Well, it's not as though it's a book or anything."
Now I'm writing that book. And, to me, it is a biggie. And it has helped me come to grips with these past slights. A real friend would not have put me in a position of doubting the importance of those things.
Accomplishments which may not have been a big deal to others, they meant something to me.
They're part of who I am, and should be handled gently by those who call themselves "friend."
I've always spoken my mind. Although truthfully, only up to a point. Easy to do with acquaintances, co-workers, or strangers. And yes - I mean face to face. I am not one of those people who hides behind the anonymity of the internet. That's a coward's way - and a topic for another day. But, in all honesty, telling a close girlfriend that she has hurt my feelings is hard for me. It's hard for a couple of reasons. Who wants to admit that they've been hurt, first of all? I'm a strong person, never doubt it, but I do have feelings and I am basically a bit of a marshmallow when it comes to those feelings. A marshmallow who also happens to have a bit of a temper and, sadly, a very sharp tongue. I react badly when I'm hurt. I lash out. For these reasons, I've held back (or tried to) when it comes to saying how I really feel sometimes to my friends because I'm afraid I'll say way too much and cause permanent damage to a relationship that I do find important. I don't want my mouth to ruin something I treasure. Really, I don't think I'm any different than a lot of people in this. Don't most of us try hard to bite our tongues so as NOT to hurt those we care about with careless words said in anger?
At the same time, I think I'm generous with my friends. And it's an honest generosity. If good things happen to people I care about, it makes me happy and I love sharing the joy with them. I feel honored when they call to tell me good news. And I want to share it with everyone I know.
And I'm loyal to my friends and family. I will jump, with both feet, on anyone who messes with my loved ones.
Which is why I've been surprised when I've shared news that has made me happy, only to feel rebuffed or dismissed in return. Surprised and hurt.
Where's the generosity I was hoping for? The loyalty?
Am I somehow not worthy of receiving that which I think I've freely given?
I have to say - it's hard admitting these things even here. But. This is the year I've promised myself to be more honest in my writing. What that means is, I guess, that I'm also going to be more honest with myself.
And that means I've been hurt by people who will not get an opportunity to hurt me again.