Monday, October 09, 2006

With Friends Like These

Today wasn't as good of a day, but then it was. Never underestimate the healing powers of a good, long, vigorous walk.

One of the things you always hear about when a couple divorces is the allocation of the mutual friendships. When the divorce is acrimonious and public, these lines are neatly and boldly drawn. With us, it was much quieter. We have been separated for over two years and we still maintained a somewhat public front, although it became one of the worst kept secrets. Known, but not discussed. I pledged that I would not air our dirty laundry or otherwise gab to our mutual friends. I never, EVER wanted to be that kind of a woman -- who politicized the friendships and made them choose sides.

I am still proud of that decision and will steadfastly adhere to it, but it came at a cost. I isolated myself from any and all of our mutual friends during the past two years, save for one, who ended up betraying me in the worst way imaginable. Perhaps partly owing to his profession and position, but largely owing to who he is, B did not isolate himself and was still quite visible to our friends and did not surrender anything socially. I don't know when he began telling them we were separated, but because we were once a very visible pair, I think it was inevitable. B is a hard guy to dislike, so I would hazard that some of our mutual friends drew their own conclusions. I have no interest in reshaping any of those conclusions.

What it did make me really think about was the age-old cliche about discovering who your true friends are in a crisis. We've had friends who have split before us and I almost always took the position of neutrality or, more often, avoiding them both. I know now that that was a mistake, at least in some of the cases. I wish I had reached out to some of my then-divorcing friends, as I imagine a few of them feel the way I do -- not wanting to rehash the divorce or the reasons therefor, but just wanting to know that not EVERYTHING has failed. That notwithstanding their loss of a relationship, our friendship was still intact. When all is said and done with all of this, I am going to make a few overtures. And it also needs to be said that many of our mutual friends have reached out to me but I rejected them because of the shared affections. Dumb.

But all that said, I keep coming back to a recurring theme. People really show their committment to a friendship when the going gets tough. And I am not now speaking about mutual friends -- I'm talking about my own friends that have no connection to B. I have been both disappointed and pleasantly surprised by my friends. For the most part, I have great judgment in friends and for that, I am both proud and thankful. I can't tell you how many times I've received something at work from Andrea, just to let me know she was thinking about me and wanted me to know that. That kind of thoughtfulness and friendship is something I will continually strive for.

And today, I finally told the boys from ND. I have three really good male friends from ND and these guys -- these men -- they humbled me today with their friendship and love. I hadn't cried in a while (yes, at this point, you measure your days by tears or the lack thereof), and Sean moved me in a great way. These three guys, and Sean in particular, are what most would describe as "frat boys" -- love to party, love to dance, love the ladies, everything is fun, light and breezy. While I have been the shoulder to their issues in the past, I never leaned on them for anything. I was the cool chick who drove them home when they were drunk, stopped them from stupid drunk hookups, was a silent companion when they just didn't want to be alone, and pumped them up when they were having an off day.

Sean sent me an email today that showed our friendship was a lot deeper. Sean is (fuck, I am terrible with ages) maybe 30 (he was a baby in law school) but he has a maturity and kindness of men twice his age. I just want to thank him for showing me that. The woman who marries him (and I think he's with her now -- but he won't even consider that until I meet her -- long story) will have a great man for the rest of her life. School B (one of the other two) is already married and ToD (the other one) just got engaged. There were a lot of shitheads in law school, but I am proud to know these three. And thankful that all three of them have demonstrated that it was more than just an older sister thing -- that when I needed a net of sorts, they were more than willing to step up and catch me.

I have done just fine in the division of friends department.

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