Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Relief of Abandonment

I am very, very accustomed to being left behind.

It took quite a while to realize that abandonment, often perfectly benign, was an integral part of my life. A general list:

  • My dad (Al) died of leukemia when I was 3
  • My best friend in kindergarten (Missy) moved away the following summer
  • My best friend in first grade (Betsy) moved away the following summer
At this point things stabilized... but I never had another best friend. I don't THINK it was a conscious decision; there just wasn't anyone I clicked with in the years that followed. I went through grade school and high school with many of the same classmates, but none really close.
  • My adoptive stepdad (Chuck) left when I was 17
This I didn't mind at the time; none of us were happy, and he was too strict and broken himself to really be able to show us any affection. But it did mess up the family dynamic; I felt that our stability had left with him.

College was where I actually started to make some good friends; none of them were "besties" but they were consistent and I saw them daily for several years... but as the only one of us actually from Nashville, when school was over, I stayed there... and they all left, to return home or continue their education elsewhere.

I made new friends at my first real job, then went back to school to get a 2nd degree and made some ALMOST best friends with 3 other women. We called ourselves the Honda Club, and they were the closest I've ever had to something approximating best friends. But within a few years, they all left as well, to different cities.

I got a long-term job working with computers at a talent agency, and started making friends there. There were 5 of us who got together frequently for dinner and movies, and we called ourselves Movie Club. But one by one, they left town (except for one of the women, thank God!)

I feel like I have formed and lost and reformed and lost so many friendships in my life that I'm honestly perturbed when someone actually STAYS. So many times I have been told by a friend that they are leaving town, and I go to the farewell party or give them a parting gift or help them pack... but on a certain mental level, after the sad, weary acceptance of another loss, I'm relieved. I don't know why; in some twisted, broken way... it is what has always happened, and so I don't know how to build a friendship beyond a certain level of development. And now, with their departure, I won't have to deal with the harder, more work-intensive aspects of the natural growth of a friendship.

Now that I'm much older and stable in my society, people from my peer group are proving more likely to stay. And I am beginning to realize that there are aspects to my friends that can annoy and disappoint me, (just as I can definitely annoy and disappoint them!) But never having had to work through this more advanced friendship stage before, I don't quite know how. I'm glad that I am older and wiser enough to be conscious that nobody's perfect, and that this is actually what is SUPPOSED to happen... but I'm afraid of messing up.

And don't even get me started on my incapacity for romantic relationships - at the developmental rate I'm going, I should be ready for dating and marriage around... 70. ;)