Celebrating their success is a great thing. You get to hear about how people you like and people you love got to do what they were meant to do and excel at it. You can laugh over their stories you can feel the pride of accomplishment. And if you are a person without children that pride and accomplishment has to go somewhere else so… If you have other relatives or friends who you are proud of who do amazing things if you take time to celebrate that you get positive vibes out of it yourself. I have two family members I’ve been watching with pride since they were children and I continue to get great joy out of watching them succeed.
But. In this world where we only put our best foot forward on social media , if you see someone successful you’re only getting that successful side to them, and you get a misleading picture that that’s the only part of them. And if you have disabilities and medical challenges and body issues, I’m not going to lie it’s very difficult to celebrate someone who appears at first glance to be perfect. Able-bodied good looking with the perfect career. You work to maintain that supportive stance with them and it gets harder. Until you’re open with each other usually on a one to one basis and you realize that that perfect person on Facebook isn’t. They’re struggles might not be your struggles but they do have them. they have cracks in the armor. There are bad days for them. Its not that you’re happy to see the bad days , it’s that being human has to show through. When you see some common ground it is easier to love the uncommon things they do.
Sometimes, your friends write you something really amazing….
and sometimes it takes you twenty years to respond appropriately. I’ve thanked my good friend Bridgett for this before, but never attempted a really specific response…It’s rather odd, because it’ll be a fifty year old woman “answering” the twenty/early thirty somethings we were back then…
But you know, time ticks. And you want to make sure wonderful things get acknowledged.
I’m going to quote a lot of it but not the entire thing. I hope she’ll forgive me for making it ‘public.’
And some friends, don’t step into the breach just during one decade, but several.
So, it’s 1991. During my fight with cancer, and my late husband’s fight with HIV.
She’s getting her Phd, and I’m getting over cancer, getting my marbles back into my head after a really scary interlude caused by too much of a particular chemotherapy med.
I needed some time away. Just a week or so. Time away from my regular life.
[my husband was ok with that. He recognized I needed some time…]
I figured I might even get some moments to play at being an academic again…so I asked to come. She said yes, and I had a time just to decompress.
In a little place in the midwest, an apartment that was nearly as quirky in it’s own way as our dorm room in college had been.
We had good times, I met her current crop of friends and associates and liked ’em. [particularly one earnest overcaffienated little fellow that eventually became rather important in her life 🙂 ]
And when I get back home, she writes me this card during a difficult transitional time for her…
“Some days, don’t you feel like you’ve stepped out of a Cubist painting? I mean, jangled, harsh, angular and the pieces all stuffed hastily in a space which doesn’t forgive edges? Yeah, me too.
And you were an honest and compassionate friend, given the intensity of what I was going through, and my emotional rollercoasters about it. [Don’t you *wish* somebody had clued me in about some of the underlying causes? I do.]
That was a tough tornado to stand under, and you managed it better than most did, kid. As you may remember, there were folks who decided they had to step miles out of the way of that. You did not. That in itself was invaluable, and something not many could have done.
Your support and humor these small oases of sane honesty where neither of us has to be ‘the stong one’ mean an immense amount to me. As ever you’re the person to know when all is against me and the person to run to when the call for “Halp!” issues [sic]
Since the big quest of my life has often incorporated a real need to be useful, it made me feel really good that I could back you up like that sometimes. Maybe I’ve got more of that to do yet. Who knows.
On speculating on how the fateful cards are dealt (or misdealt, according to human perception), I often think that sometimes you draw these amazing gifted and resourceful people for no reason at all other than to remind you that there are things in life you should have brains enough to enjoy and appreciate. And, every once in a while one should have the grace to tell them how much they are enjoyed and appreciated.
You’re welcome. Whatever I did, I’m glad it felt supportive. I’m glad it helped.
And fifteen or twenty years later, when I was (again) feeling so stressed and isolated, you first reestablished a strong online presence in my life.
That has been and continues to be, a link back to, and validation of those times when my intellect actually had value in the offline world, and that I still have some pretty good days, even though I never took up the career I was meant to. Any writing I’ve done since 2005 that anyone thought was any good wouldn’t be out there if you hadn’t planted the seed, that hey, this blogging thing might be a cool idea.
Then in ’09 when so many pieces of my offline life simply blew up in order, I called for help and got it. Just the support, tangible and intangible…one of the things that was ‘just enough,’ to get me back home…
You and I will keep surviving, not because of any moral imperative or external dictum, or even out of spite —
Wellllll, I don’t know about *that.* I think, for good or ill, in my case, I do survive just to spite the universe.
I also have to love any friend that is trying (and succeeding) at writing a supportive note, uses the words “external dictum,” and knows they’ll be understood… 🙂
–- but because we simply *have to* When presented that…burden of life, which is strapped on with determination you just have to stumble along and get picked up or sometimes carried along by your dearest friends.
Now, that was a pretty adult and prophetic piece of thinking…
Yeah, we both did that for each other back then and before then But the scales are so uneven now, I doubt I’ll be able to balance them appropriately, and that bugs me.
Perhaps the only way I can do it, is to tell any strangers reading this, that if you have that one friend…that one that has your back no matter what, and you examine your connection and believe you haven’t told them you appreciate them in a good while…then do it now. Right now. So that as time ticks, you absolutely know you’ve told them how cool they are.
My motto: “ If she can make it, I can make it.” Your motto; “If she can make it, I can make it.”
Seems we did. But *what* I’ve made of mine I really don’t know.
Thank you, my friend.