Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, October 29, 2004

A Private Note to My Friend Ambre, Writ Publicly

Dear Ambre,

Every now and then, despite the fact that we are so fundamentally alike, you and I will disagree with one another--and we'll say so. Sometimes, we say so over and over again, caught up in a desire to change the other's mind. And every time it happens, at some point during our back-and-forth I'll smile to myself and think, 'I bet she doesn't know how happy this makes me. I really need to tell her.' But then I get sucked back into the debate, and I forget.

I'm remembering now. And I'm thanking you.

You may be wondering why arguing with you makes me happy. Let me go back a bit.

My parents officially announced their intention to divorce when I was 11, though they secretly separated when I was 8. (Don't ask. Let's just say I was a gullible 8.) But in all the years of their marriage, I can remember only two fights. Ever. Two. One of them is particularly vivid; we were at the new house of one of my mother's best friends and her husband, and I began to feel sick. Turned out I had a high fever. So my folks borrowed some blankets and put me in the car and drove me home. It was snowing, hard, and very cold. And on the way, they got into an argument about which direction to go, and they raised their voices a bit. I began to sob, scared and sick in the back seat, and they fell into silence. When we got home, I was so distraught and feverish that they came into the room and hugged each other to prove that everything was OK. (It wasn't. As it turned out, my father was sleeping with my mother's friend, and if I'm remembering correctly, that was the night my mom found out. As an aside, every time I think about that hug, I wonder just how much self esteem and self respect that cost my mother, and am awed by how much she was willing to sacrifice for me.) Then they went back into the living room of our tiny apartment, and watched TV. If they argued any further, I didn't hear it, and I would have, given my proximity to where they were.

This really isn't a huge aside; I think of it as somehow explaining an awful lot about who I am today. All I know is that I've never, ever felt comfortable confronting people or standing up for myself. I've gone through my life as a people-pleaser, somehow figuring that I'd be better off having people like me than saying what I feel or think. That has included friends and even lovers. I've always had the fear, in the back of my mind, that if I dare disagree with a friend, said friend would banish me from their life forever. Better to be agreeable than sorry, I always said.

I knew that Baroy and I would end up being just fine together when I got to the point where I could get angry enough at him to scream at him, and not assume that meant our relationship was over. (To be honest, that point didn't come until AFTER we were already married; it takes me a while.) Now, while we very rarely have that kind of explosive exchange, I don't fear the repercussions of it; there may be a number of reasons why I don't always say what I have to say to him, but it's not because I don't trust him to stick with me even if he sees my 'ugly' side.

That's the way I feel about you, too. (And Susanna, and Debra...but it's you I find myself most often 'arguing' with, for whatever reason.) I can launch myself into a "I think you're full of it, and here's why," rant without a second thought to whether or not you'll still be my friend after we've both said our piece. That tells me just how important you all are to me, that I'm willing to be me, all of me, in front of you. It tells me that I trust you with my most vulnerable parts. And that's huge for me. Huge.

And so, I just wanted to say thank you. For being my friend, and for being so accepting of me. The real, sometimes ugly, sometimes contentious, sometimes right and sometimes downright wrong me.

With love,

free hit counter