Yesterday morning, E told me that she was going shopping for some new clothes. Being that I'm trying to get myself out there more, I did that thing where I just invited myself to tag along and gave her the whole "if you want some company, that is" way of asking. You know the one, where people are more or less forced to accept, because they don't want to hurt your feelings.
Under normal circumstances, I would NEVER just invite myself along. I throw hints out that I'd be up for doing whatever people around me are planning, but then I wait to see if I get invited. If I do, great. If I don't, no biggie.
But yesterday, I was itching to get out of the house for some alone time, and I honestly couldn't think of a better way to do it than to get in some retail therapy with the person that has become my emotional sponge. Seriously. I've pretty much told her EVERYTHING, and she's one of the few people I truly trust with my problems and issues. Plus, I also knew that had she not wanted me to go, she probably wouldn't have thrown it out there that she was going in the first place. HA!
Trust is something I hold on to at arm's length. Being that I am a pretty trusting person, I can open up to just about anybody about minor situations and issues that plague me. I can open up and tell people what's bothering me. But, I never truly go "all out". I never give my all. I may skim the surface of certain issues and problems, but I keep the parts that are REALLY bothering me or I consider to be REALLY personal to myself. And the reason I do that, is because I don't want to be judged. I don't want people to be shocked when they learn something about me that isn't of the norm. I don't want people taking information about me and it altering the way they perceive me. And, even though I am pretty sure that most of the people in my life that I trust aren't like that, sometimes it just can't be helped.
I, for one, know that I am an extremely NON-JUDGMENTAL person. I don't judge a person based on their past, or present issues. I like to think of myself as a person someone could talk to in times of crisis and it have no bearing on my friendship with that person. But, say for example, someone who has spent time with my kids opens up and tells me they have a drinking problem or a drug problem... am I going to be OK with my kids going off and spending time alone with that person? No. I will still be a friend, I will still support and try and help.. but my mind has already made the decision that my kids could be in danger if they spent time with that person. Or, say for another example, I find out that one of my students has a problem with stealing. They may swear to me that they would never steal from me, but in the back of my mind I will always wonder when something goes missing, and I'm far less likely to leave that student alone with my personal items.
Those are only examples... but points I'm trying to make about how sometimes judgement is cast and relationships become changed without the initial intention.
And, really, I am pretty open about mistakes that I have made, but being a mother, daughter, fiancé, a sister, an aunt, and a friend... I carry around information and mistakes of those close to me, that even affect me, that I'm not at liberty to divulge to the people I would normally talk to.
For everyone, except E. There's just something about that woman that makes me feel like no matter WHAT I tell her, her perceptions of me won't change, it won't alter our friendship, and she will be front and center in offering up her opinion and helping me make sense of what's happening and why it's happening.
And I truly believe that if I hadn't had her this past week, I'd have been a heaping pile of emotional crazy by now. I'd be curled up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, tears streaming uncontrollably from my eyes, and just not ever wanting to leave that position.
So, going back to inviting myself to tag along... I did that completely knowing that she wouldn't mind.
We set up a time to meet, and out the door I went.
We met up and left my car so that we could drive around and do some shopping together. From the minute I got in the car, my mouth was running 500mph filling her in with the latest developments in my crisis. She listened, and then gave me her thoughts and opinions. And then, that was the last I spoke of it... every conversation we had after that was filled with the one thing that I truly needed to get over the last of my funk.... LAUGHTER.
I haven't laughed that hard or that much in FOREVER. I could actually feel my muscles relaxing and the stress lifting off of my shoulders.
We laughed at ourselves. We laughed at our problems. We laughed at our pasts. We laughed about the similarities in our family dynamics.
And the funniest part of the whole thing? The whole "retail therapy" was pretty much non-existent. After the first store we visited, we both agreed that neither of us was a big fan of shopping... so we stopped shopping. We drove around for a while. We found a cute little restaurant, and then we sat, ate, talked, and LAUGHED for hours.
In the six hours we were together, we shopped for about an hour. The rest of the time we were driving or sitting in that restaurant. And, I will honestly say, I'd take six hours of doing that ANYTIME over six hours of shopping.
What I learned from the whole experience is that there really are people in this world that can sit and listen to just about ANYTHING and form absolutely NO judgement. Not just that, but can hear a problem and then somehow offer up their own version of a similar situation. It seemed like no matter what we talked about, yesterday, the other had been through or somehow experienced a similar problem. We have so much more in common than I ever imagined. She learned a lot about me, I learned a lot about her. And both of us walked away still laughing, not a inkling of doubt or worry attached to what we now knew.
Friendships like that do NOT happen very often. At least not for me.
I am the person that puts myself out there, waiting for someone to take me in, and then walking away alone. I am someone that can feel "friendly" with lots of people, but when the going gets tough just can't think of many friends to reach out to in order to seek guidance.
But, this week, dealing with one of the hardest situations I've ever been through, not one minute did I feel like I was alone. I always knew, no matter what time of day or night, that there was someone I could call, reach out to. And that was E.
We both believe that there was a purpose for us being brought together. I needed a person to help me pass the emotional tests that are being bestowed on me. Her tests are in the shape of helping me through my problems.
It's also nice to know that while dealing with (and passing) the tests that we are facing... a friendship can blossom from it all.
The truly funniest part about it all, though, is that in her mind she's not doing anything special. She's just being an ear and a shoulder for me to vent to, and a voice to help me see reason. When I try to shower her with thanks (and after she reads this post), she'll brush it off like it's no big deal. It's what she does, and what she's good at. It's her being her.
But, it IS a big deal. To me. One of the biggest.
She has helped me understand that NO situation is always as bad as we think it is. She has helped me understand that pretty much ALL problems can be resolved by talking them out and thinking through them. And most of all, she has helped me understand that laughter really is the best medicine and therapy there is.