Sunday, October 28, 2007

Open Letter To A Friend

Dear Friend,

There's been some things that I've been thinking over, that I've been feeling, that I've been holding on to, and have to tell you. It's hard, because we don't really get to talk as much as we have in the past, for various reasons. Although we talked a little while ago and that was nice cuz we haven't talked like that in a while.

I decided to write here, because I know you're busy and you may not get to read something I wrote you directly. You may not even feel the need to hear everything I have to say, but I have the need to get it out so I can let it go. Sometimes, a person just needs to be heard, you know? Sometimes just being heard makes you feel better--it's kind of why I enjoyed therapy so much. Forty-five minutes of someone listening to me without passing judgment. It's also why I started this blog, because I could write my problems away.

But anyway.

I also thought that if I wrote what I'm feeling here, and someone else stumbles on it, maybe they'll find some useful words to tell someone else. I know that how I feel isn't unique... maybe someone else feels this way but didn't have the words to say it.

Also, by writing here instead of writing you directly, it forces me to keep my thoughts ordered and my stories relatively short, because I certainly have the tendency to wander off on tangents. And it's public... anything I say here, I have to stand by what I say.

So here goes.

This has been very confusing for me, falling for you like I have. I knew I liked you from the very first time I spoke with you. It's like that sometimes, with people I meet; I like them instantly and I remember the first time I ever spoke to them or saw them. With you, you felt "familiar" right away, and long before there were any other feelings involved, I liked being around you simply because it already felt like I'd known you for a long time. And as we got to know each other better, I liked that you had a sense of yourself far beyond your years. Your honesty and integrity have impressed me, and I admire that you have a purpose in life and that you don't deviate from your goals, despite what life has thrown at you. But I didn't expect to feel anything more than friendship.

I know from talking to you, that life has thrown you some fastballs. Already, you've dealt with some major shit and it's a testament to your spirit that you're not more bitter and jaded than you are. Wounded, yes--and I know that at this moment your faith in love and friendship is deeply shaken. But that is something else I that I like about you... that you're not more bitter than you are. You're certainly not as bitter as I am.... maybe it's because you're still young enough to heal. And I know you hurt, and you're finding your way in a new life you didn't expect, and you think you're pretty bitter but you're not as bitter as me. And I wish for you that you never will be as bitter as I am, because it's a heavy load to carry.

So here's where I tell you that you gave me back my heart. Before you, I had shut my heart up completely. There's the part that belongs to my Sun, of course. And I know you understand that, understand that there is a different part of us that belongs to our children. But the part of you that you give away; that part I had locked up, and locked up before I even met the Sun's dad. If you were to poke around this blog and sift through the tons of crap I've posted here, you'd see that I've been trying to piece myself back together, thinking, separating, sorting through all of my various life experiences in an attempt to figure myself out. And I've realized that I was able to deal with the crap I took from the Sun's dad because I had already locked my self up. And also, I think I'm realizing that I took a lot of crap from him because it was a pain I could handle... it was outside of me. I could fight him because it kept me from fighting my inner self; fighting him kept me occupied. Whatever pain I allowed him to inflict on me was manageable compared to the pain I had locked up inside.

Finally this summer, after nine years of fighting, I stopped fighting him. I didn't need to fight him anymore. I stopped fighting him because I had something else to care about, and that something else was you. But you know how it is when you have that closet you shove everything into? You open the door a crack, shove something in it and shut the door real quick. Eventually, the closet gets filled and you dread going in there. One day you realize there's something you need, something essential like maybe toilet paper or something, and you have to go into that closet to get it. You open the door, and *everything* tumbles out, like an avalanche.

Well, opening my heart again has kind of been like that for me. I had to open up my heart in order to let you in, and that was great, but in the process of doing so, an avalanche of crap came tumbling out. Fear, pain, anger--none of which was directed at you--but also love and joy and hope. And it threw me for a loop, because Lord knows I didn't expect all of that. I'd forgotten exactly how much crap I'd shoved in that closet.

I'm sorry that some of that crap fell out on you. I really am; because I know it reminds you of your own closet and I'm so sorry to do that to you. You asked me a little while ago if I could promise not to flip out anymore. I didn't think I could. But the truth is I'm scared. You and I both quoted "Fool me once, shame on you, Fool me twice, shame on me"... I'm scared of trusting anybody because, well, because I hate that feeling of being fooled.

But, we were friends before anything else, and friends have to trust each other, right? And even though it's hard to go back to "friends" after there have been other things, I take pride in being a good friend. So, in honor of friendship I promise not to flip out on you anymore. I can't promise I won't get mad about things, because the Bear Maiden isn't a Bear Maiden for no good reason... she's known for her temper. But she also owns up to her flaws, and admits when she's wrong, and she values her good friends because good friends are few and far between. And she knows that to have good friends, you have to be a good friend.

And there's something else you should know; something I said to you today but I want to write it to make sure you know it. And that thing is this: I learned that you should never give anything if you need it back, or if it will cost you something to give it. For example... if a friend asks to borrow money, you shouldn't lend it if you couldn't stand to lose it. A true friend will make it their business to pay you back, to honor the friendship by returning whatever was borrowed. And, it will certainly count against them if they DON'T pay you back, or return what was borrowed. But you, as the friend, shouldn't loan out anything you can't stand to lose.

When I was in school, at one point I owed my landlord the equivalent of 5 months rent. And my rent is pretty high, so we're talking in the neighborhood of five grand. I couldn't work full time because there was NO way I could do that and school. The Sun's dad wasn't helping much, if at all, and I couldn't get my own student loans because my credit was bad. I finally got put in touch with a church in the city that had a homeless prevention program. So I went down there, and asked them to help me. I went there with the Sun. The outreach worker was a man who was a recovering alcoholic and former drug abuser, and you could look at his face and see he had been through hell and back. But he liked the Sun, and he liked me, and he told me what to do in order to qualify for the church donation. A few weeks later, I got a call from him saying that the church was going to give me a donation towards my rent. It wasn't enough to pay what I owed, but it was enough to make a small dent, and I was deeply touched.

But the outreach worker also told me that in addition to the church's check, he was going to give me some money out of his own pocket. He told me that he had been in bad places in his life, but that God had blessed him and he was in a good place now, and that he wanted to help me. Let me tell you; as a single woman I had BIG issues taking money from a man I barely knew; my New York heart told me he probably wanted something in return. But I needed the money; the Sun needed the money.

The man met me in front of my school on West 14th street. It was Valentine's Day, and in addition to the church's check, and his own private donation, he had a card for me because he said that everyone needed a card on Valentine's Day. And that he needed to give someone a card, and he didn't have anyone to give that card to except me. You KNOW I was suspicious. But that was all... he gave me the money. He gave me the card, and that was that. He also gave me a white box that had three glass angels inside.

The poem inside the box said:

"Your Worry Box
This box is for your worries
The aches within your heart.
A place to tuck away your fears,
Where love and hope can start,
So keep this box beside you,
And know how much they care.
For when you need peace and joy,
The angels will be there."


I keep that box on my desk to this day, not just because it's a worry box, but because it reminds me to give freely.

I went to see him once, later on, at the church he worked at, but after that I've never seen him again. He never asked for anything in return, and he hasn't kept in touch. I think of him often; of his kindness and his willingness to give something of himself to someone he didn't know and only liked on faith, and that he never asked for anything in return. In his honor, I try to do the same... to give something to someone who needs it, without expecting something in return. I'm not perfect and I don't have it all "together," and when I've flipped out on you, it's also in part because I've forgotten about giving freely.

I think of love the same way now. Everyone wants to be loved... but it is equally important to be able to give love freely. I have realized recently, that despite whatever I had told myself, I want to be loved again. Really, that's because of you... you can't miss what you can't measure but once you have something, you remember and you can compare. Once you came into my life you reminded me what it was like to feel loved, and I miss that feeling. But I realized I also miss giving love.

Because I do have the Sun, and I do have my family and I do have good friends and I know that I am loved. Yes, it would be nice to have someone "special" who loves me in return, and yes, I'm awful tired of facing life without a partner, and I want that again at some point. But humans need to be able to give love as well as receive it, because it's just as important. And like money, love is something a friend should be able to give away without expecting it in return. It shouldn't cost you anything to love... when it does, you should definitely rethink it. Like money, the gift of love should be respected by the person receiving, but the giver should give freely, or not at all... Love shouldn't come with "strings attached".

So when I tell you that I care, or that I'm thinking of you I don't expect anything back, if you don't have it to give back. I care about you because you have a good heart, and caring about you makes me feel good. I know that there are huge differences between us; a lifetime of experiences--but we have a lot of similarities, too. But if the differences are too great to overcome--if we're never able to get past all that makes us different, it's OK. It's not why I care.

There's a song I know... a really corny one, but I love the words because they say a lot;

"...I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable
I'm not trying to make you anything at all.
But this feeling doesn't come around everyday,
And you shouldn't blow the chance,
If you have the chance to say,
'I love you'. I honestly love you."


Life is so short, and love can be so fleeting. You should enjoy both wherever you can.


Be blessed...

3 comments:

Fat Lady said...

Without sounding too much like I stepped out of 1972 - You sure are deep, sister!

First of all, I admire, everyday, your ability to put all your stuff out there the way you do on this blog. Even under the semi-anonymity of a blog, I have a hard time opening up beyond a certain point.

But this post goes beyond even your usual stark honesty and unrestricted emotion. And as you say yourself in the beginning - yes, you are dealing with some stuff that others can relate to. Some very universal stuff, that just about anyone can learn from.

I think there are some truths out there that some people have a hard time grasping, and the rest may grasp, but have an even harder time living by.

Learning that forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the forgiven is one of those things. And what you talk about here, that giving is something that should be done without the expectation of getting back is another biggie. And that love is something to be given well that's just HUGE.

I've always thought of love as something to be felt, but I never thought of it as a gift. But of course it is. And of course it should be given freely and without expectation, just as anything else should be.

You've made me think about my own relationship. No conclusions...but I'm thinking, and from a different perspective and that's always a good thing.

Thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

S.K. said...

I really felt the truth in your words, and I am touched. You made a beautiful point about loving freely. "Free Love" is hard to accept and sometimes harder to recieve. My blog sistah, I pray that we can enjoy both without hesitation.

The Bear Maiden said...

Thank you both for your "amens" :)

Writing it helps me live it.