(warning: overly dramatic and possibly pity-party-esque post ahead.)
Tonight I think I’m beginning to understand why we build walls around our hearts, why sometimes we make the choice to not feel anything at all, rather than risk being vulnerable.
While I was still in primary school, I met a really interesting girl. She was charismatic and full of life and passionate and daring and fun. And beyond all that, she was a fantastic listener. I had never met anyone like her before. She made me feel like everything I shared was important to her, and I felt like she really got me. I had never desired anyone’s friendship so strongly before.
There was a problem, though: she was a popular girl, understandably, and many others were vying for her particular favour. Although we were friends, I soon came to understand that I would never be as special to her as she was to me. I saw her as someone who was almost a soulmate, the only friend I would ever need. She saw me as just one of many friends in her circle. Even more painful was the realisation that I wasn’t the only one who felt like she “just got me”. Turns out that she had a particular gift for people. I don’t know what to call it – friendship and the intricacies of social behaviour have always been rather a mystery to me. Maybe it was just some combination of charm, charisma, vivacity, good listening skills and genuine presence.
For a long time, I became resentful of people who had this gift – this gift of getting others to like them, to open up to them, of making others feel wanted and understood.
(As I write this, it’s beginning to dawn on me how ironic it is that all those things exactly describe the person who for the past 15 years has held the title of “bestie” in my life.)
I held on to the bitterness of that rejection of my friendship, or rather, a perceived rejection on my part, for more years than I care to admit. I felt strongly that people who had this gift ought to be more responsible with it – great power, great responsibility – without fully understanding how hard it must be for those people to even figure out what power they held, or how few of them even wanted such a gift in the first place. In fact, my own best friend and I often used to refer to it as the “gift-curse”, because we saw how the vulnerability that came with depth of friendship put one at risk of being deeply hurt.
Perhaps, in its own way, my friendship with my best friend has been healing me of this particular hurt all this time – because as special as he is to me, I know I’m special to him too. It’s perhaps this security that is at the root of why I do not resent the fact that he is the “particular friend” of so many others, why I do not feel jealous or neglected. Importantly, it’s also because he does not take our friendship for granted. As vulnerable as I’ve been to him, so has he been to me. I’d like to think that we’ve both treasured each other’s openness, appreciated the risk that the other is taking in being vulnerable, and allowed space for the friendship to continue growing in depth over the years – which means leaving space for the other person to hold things back too. This way, every step taken forward is precious – significant, because I realise that part of that original hurt was a feeling that the intimacy of friendship was taken from me carelessly, without regard for, or indeed, even realisation of, the fact.
So perhaps I have to eat my words here. Perhaps it’s not irony at all, but God’s way of giving me healing, slowly but surely. And I think this short walk through my own mind has also helped me understand that, as much as I’m hurting now, God has been healing this wound from before I came to be aware of it.
I’m not sure where this leaves me. Well, ok then, let me focus on what I am sure of. I have a very small collection of important friends in my life, and I’m very, very sure that I’m pretty important to them too. I’m grateful that they are all very generous in their affirmation of this, and have not given me cause to doubt their regard for me. Their friendship has allowed me, subconsciously, to be that much more confident and comfortable in my own skin. I am secure in my identity as their friend.
I’m also sure that one hurt that has been coming up in the past half year or so has been the feeling of being rejected by the people who are most important to me. Being forgotten by people I put in extra effort to remember. Being neglected by people I put in extra effort to do things for. Being unseen by people I’m always looking out for. Generally just situations where my love is unreciprocated or, worse, goes unnoticed. I realize now that one reason why my current situation is triggering me so much is because one of the nerves it is pinching is this exact one. And that also reveals to me that this is one hurt that still needs to be worked on, that still needs to be offered up for healing.
Well, we always say in school – what God reveals, He heals. I’m not sure if I’m ready to invite God into my current situation, but at least this hurt of feeling like my love is constantly being rejected or unnoticed is something that I feel I can offer up to Him.
Wow. I can safely say that this is not at all what I expected when I started writing tonight. I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am that God has taken what started out as an angry, wounded rant, and turned it into a journey of self-discovery and healing. What wonders the Lord worked for us; indeed we were glad!