I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately (probably too much). Last October, I lost a friend due to my faith, which offends her. I was – and am – crushed. I feel like she died. Over the past year, the pain is much less constant. I’ll go for weeks without thinking about her, but then a day will come when I drown in grief of our friendship.
I moved two weeks ago. While packing up, I found a yearbook from 8th grade. I had gone to a Christian school kindergarten-8th grade. Most of my classmates weren’t really aware of my existence. I had a few classmates whom were great friends, but we really only hung out after school, never during lunch or recess. I was kind of a loner, and teachers were always so concerned that I “wasn’t trying” to make friends. Unfortunately, a handful of students bullied me, but usually nothing serious. What made school scary were three classmates: one threatened to shoot me, one threatened to rape me (along with a graphic explanation of how), and one sexually assaulted me. School was a nightmare.
Anyways, so I found that yearbook from 8th grade, and in it were signatures and messages from my classmates. Almost all of them said exactly the same thing, “We never really hung out, but you’re a really nice person. Good luck in high school.” Reading 15 notes that said “we never hung out” reminded me how alone I felt in school those nine years.
Somehow, one person broke through. She was one of the classmates who hug out with me outside of school. Towards the end of junior high, I even began eating lunch with her at school. Although we went to separate high schools, we talked on AOL all the time and had sleep overs often. After high school, I went to college, and she joined the Marines. We continued to stay in touch on FB. Today, we live several hours away from each other and in different time zones; we’ve missed each other’s weddings; she had 2 kids with the third on the way while I have none, but we remain close friends and manage to see each other every year or two.
College was an amazing experience for me. For the first time in my life, I had a group of friends – a whole group! Towards the end of college, I met one more person, and we ended up being suitemates my junior year and roommates my senior year. Like my junior high friend, we live hours away in separate states and time zones, but we keep in touch on FB and also call each other and talk for hours and hours occasionally. We’ve been to each other’s weddings, and I’ve met her one-year-old son three times.
I also am finding that the older I get, the closer I feel to my relatives. I was always close with my oldest cousin, but often times (especially when the world seems to weigh on my shoulders) she is the only one who understands, and she’s told me the same. Her faith and emotions are so similar to mine. We both love Jesus as much as a person can possibly love, and we both ache when we see others suffer in this life. Once again, she is a friend who lives in a different state (soon to be a different country), and we only see each other about once a year, but we keep in touch almost daily on FB.
I had something I wanted to share with my three close friends, and I decided to send it in one private message on FB, even though my three friends don’t know each other. This morphed into a conversation that has lasted for weeks between the four of us. We’re joking and laughing and confiding. I’ve had so much fun reading these messages. And I realized, I have amazing friends. In fact, they’re so amazing that they all get along with each other like they’ve been friends and known each other for years. I feel so safe with this group, and I feel happy and loved.
This realization made me remember the notes in my 8th grade yearbook, “We weren’t friends, but you were a really nice person.” I had been so focused on the fact that all these people wrote, “We weren’t friends,” but I hadn’t realized that they didn’t have to know me well to know that I could have been a good friend. Perhaps the lack of friendship wasn’t because something was so wrong with me. Perhaps it wasn’t because they ignored me. Perhaps I was just in such a fog of depression, I didn’t know how to be friends with them. Maybe if I had known then what I know now about my clinical depression, things would have been different. I’m not upset with myself; I’m just seeing that these classmates could have been my friends, and maybe they felt as lost as I did. Maybe it’s no one’s fault. Maybe it’s part of childhood.
My life has been a journey, and I’ve learned a lot about myself. One thing I have finally realized: God has blessed me with amazing friends – the friends I have mentioned here, my family, the friends I have made post-college, my amazing husband and his family – and because of God, in more ways than one, I have never been alone.