August Journaling Day 8: Friendship

The life category of “friends” is without a doubt somewhere that I’ve been extraordinarily blessed. I am so beyond thankful and fortunate that I have so many people in my life who love me, care about me, spend time with me, talk with me, and share their lives with me, that it makes me emotional just thinking about it.

I never had any friends again like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?

Stand By Me

My first friends were those friends mentioned in the quote above. Four of us boys, all born in ’79 or ’80, all living within a few houses of each other on Index Avenue in Renton, Washington. Ross, Danny, Jamie, and me. We were best friends as little kids, best friends throughout elementary school. Riding bikes, making forts, sleepovers, baseball, all of it. I probably had 750 career home runs off of Ross and Jamie in the back yard. I think part of the reason Stand By Me is one of my favorite movies is because their little gang reminded me of my group of misfit friends. And just like the movie, junior high hit, and we all split up. Well, moreso I split up. Our family moved to the next town over. I saw them on occasion thru junior high, but by high school, I didn’t talk to any of them. I saw Jamie once or twice in our early 20’s but other than that, have never heard from any of them. My mom said Danny came into her pizza parlor a few months ago and looked good. It’s amazing how people so seemingly important in our lives at one time can just drift away from us.

My friends tend to come from a few different places. Many of my closest friends nowadays are people in and around horse racing. Some are people who I dated and we decided to just be friends instead. And a few are from baseball and high school. That said, I’ve never been a “best friend” person. Never felt like there was that one person who rose above all others to receive that moniker. And I’m kind of glad, cause that seems like a lot of pressure!

I will say though, in the last several years, I’ve certainly had a few friendships that have really evolved into more connected and deeper friendships. And it’s been something I’m incredibly grateful for. Growing up I always kept a lot of stuff to myself and most of my friends were people who I got together with, had fun with, played sports with, etc. We’d never talk about anything too serious and usually it was just all about good times. And I still love those friends and would do anything for them.

But I think following up on what I said about therapy in yesterday’s post, realizing that I can be there for my friends for much deeper and complicated talks as well as being able to really be open and honest with them and lean on them when I need support, is something that just has had such extreme value. I feel closer to these friends than almost anyone in my life. And to know that they trust me to talk about hard times in their lives, or to celebrate monumental successes in either of our lives. Well it’s certainly broadened my definition and idea of what friendship can be.

I know that anxiety has and will come up a lot in these entries, but unfortunately for me it was just such a defining struggle for so long, that it’s impossible for it not to have touched almost every area of my life. And friendship is no different. i spent a lot of my twenties and thirties telling friends “I wish I could have been there” or “Sorry I can’t make that.” Of the many dozen close friends that I have, I think I’ve been to three weddings. And one of those I came for the ceremony, said my congrats, and left early. But I didn’t attend at least fifteen or twenty of them due to either being too nervous or feeling too much shame about my anxiety, my weight, or just myself. Even my closest friends during that time, I would turn down invitations to hang out or see them and make up some lie or excuse, when the truth was i was just too anxious and sad.

The good news is, most now understand and really weren’t ever upset about it. They just care about me and are happy I’m doing better. It’s interesting because during those times when you isolate, you feel so alone and feel as though nobody loves you or cares about you. However if I’d have called any one of 100 people and asked to talk or come hang out, they’d have been right over. I know that now, and I wish I would have realized it more then. But maybe time was the only thing that was going to allow me to see that.

Let me just end with gratitude towards my friends. Thanks you so much for being in my life and allowing me to be a part of yours. It truly means everything.

Me and some of my closest high school buddies, all of whom I still stay in touch with. This photo is from 2013.