We’re halfway through the week, ya’ll, and it’s time for some stories from back in the day. The theme of the week is friendship, and I like to think I have a lot of experience in the field. For us to get to where I want to take you, we’re going to take a pretty comprehensive look at friendships from early in my life.
The first friend I have memory of making was Gina Foran. We met at daycare. We were also neighbors who lived on the same lake. As we shared a lot of bus, bike, and boat ride time together, she was my good friend until about halfway through high school. Naturally, we grew in different ways and our closeness faded, but I do think I’m correct in saying that we mutually hold our relationship dear. My first memories of conflict resolution, teamwork, creativity, and exploration are with her as we played with barbies or pretended we were mermaids in the lake. Olivia, Karlee, and Kylie are also notable in the group of growing up friends. What was unique about my friendship with them is that I kind of had an individual relationship with all of them, and they didn’t really share the connection with each other (this excludes Olivia who was also a neighbor of mine and Gina’s).
My parents often remind me that they watched the biggest shift in my morale around fifth grade. This was the first time that friendships became tumultuous and I became concerned with how others perceived me. The instability continued for the next four years– as I’m sure is pretty typical of pre-teens. Did any of you actually have a good middle school experience? That’s foreign to me.
As school became an uncomfortable place, I fell more in love with dance. While I experimented with sports during this time, (trying to find a group to fit into) nothing brought me the joy that dance did. I found that I was most comfortable there doing something that I loved with people I felt safe and respected around. As middle school transitioned to high school, I became increasingly unhappy and ill. I had this cough for a year or so that doctors failed to diagnose as the asthma that it was. It was annoying, anyway, the point is that I was unhappy. My parents were more aware of what was happening than I was. They began asking me if I’d be happy to switch high schools. I was incredibly hesitant as change did and continues to make me uneasy.
At my dance studio, I started watching this group of girls begin their journey with their high school dance team. The envy that I felt was jarring. I became very close with one of the girls, Rachel (if you’ve been reading my posts since the beginning, this is the same Rachel who brought Coldplay into my life). As my relationship with Rachel grew, things started falling into place. Eventually my want to have the dance team experience trumped my fear of starting over in a new school. I tried out for the team before I had been accepted into the school and started attending practices right away.
Going to that school remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Between time at our dance studio and dance team practices after school, we spent more time together than with our families. Also, I feel like I can’t mention this without acknowledging our coach, Pam, who passed away last year. She was an irreplaceably predominant mentor in my life and I am forever grateful for everything she did for me. Ugh. Anyway.
My dance friends became my life friends. They introduced me to new people and new best friends. I had my first experiences with dating, and found my first boyfriend at that school. All of these people filled me with so much purpose and belonging, I never imagined losing their relationships being a possibility.
Despite each of us going to different colleges, we maintained our connections. I didn’t lose the first of them until the summer after my Sophomore year of college. That was the end of my time with the high school boyfriend. This was followed by a lot of death around me and the beginning of my journey with depression. Those were dark times, but my friends were there, and actively tried to pump me with encouragement and happiness.
Fast forward to Christmas of 2014. We’re at the end of college. I still consider my high school friends to be my best and life long friends. I’m finally over grieving all of the losses, I’m invested in my college, I’ve traveled to Europe, I’ve just turned 21– life was going well. Then, I meet a guy. We go from 0 to 60 in approximately half of a second, and everything changes. After I introduced him to my best friends, and all of this stuff happened, my friends began to drift away. I was cognizant that this was happening, and it panicked me. However, in the haze of my high on infatuation, I couldn’t understand how this was happening. When I stopped student teaching and moved to Chicago, I was more or less dumped by these girls who I had grown up with. It killed me for the next two years. Honestly, it hurt me more than the literal abuse I was suffering in my home with my ex. I couldn’t understand how my life had become what it was, and the loneliness and fear that became a part of my every day added 30 literal pounds to my life.
For as deep as my pain and confusion were, I couldn’t allow myself to dismiss my love for those girls. I was so hurt and angry with their abandonment, but I could not let go of them. Last year when my life had nowhere to go but up, I found myself spending time with one of them again. This would be my Lindsey who lives here in Chicago. She and I began healing together. The more comfortable I grew with her, the more comfortable I felt expressing the pain I held onto. She (along with my mother) became instrumental in helping me understand and accept the perspective of my friends.
These people were watching me make a series of horrible choices, and they felt helpless. I was lost and we were young, and none of us knew how to help me. They didn’t know how dangerous my home life with my ex was– honestly I don’t think anyone but my coworker, Ali, knew until I wrote about it in December. I’ve come to forgive them. I’ve come to accept my role in the unfortunate timeline of our friendship. While I’ll probably never hold the place with them that I once did, we’ve all reconnected and I cannot over-emphasize how much peace that has brought me. I’m optimistic about our future, but what I’d really like to say with all of these words is that through my experience with the complexity of friendship, my relationship with Lindsey has blossomed into something I am now certain will never end. I am incredibly grateful for her role in my life and the circumstances it took for us to find ourselves here.
And this, my readers, has been story time with Morgan. Tune in on Friday for the final installment of Thoughts on Friends where I tell the story of college Morgan and what I learned from my experiences with friends there. See ya then.