Great truths from Life is Good. This afternoon, read the following description of someone’s best friend, a dog to whom she’d said her final goodbyes – – “He was the best friend of everyone he came into contact with because he saw the potential in everyone to be his new buddy.” I know how he felt – that’s how I’ve felt ALL of my life.
This weekend is homecoming in my little hometown. There is a spot where you can spot the elementary school, high school AND college where I got my diploma, diploma & degree. Tomorrow is a day off for the elementary school, while it’s packed with events for the other schools & the flocks of alums returning to celebrate special reunions. Of special note for me is the Class of 1967, celebrating their Big 5-0.
There are people in the Class of ’67 were among the first on the planet to make me feel friendship-worthy. Let me qualify that ~ ~ residents of Glenn Hall, boarding students from around the world, both Class of ’67 & ’68. Those kind juniors & seniors made a freshman feel at home, like there was somewhere on the planet where I was welcome. All of them have a forever place in my heart.
See, it was my sorry fate to get out of elementary school, high school -and- college without making the sort of best friend I’d dreamed of since a childhood spent devouring the Anne of Green Gables books. I longed for a bosom buddy like Anne Shirley found in Diana Barry ~ “An intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my innermost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life.”
My problem was that I never saw friendship modeled. Oh, Mom had wonderful friends, the very sort I longed to have for my own, but she was my mother & I couldn’t relate. From the two older sibs who were my greatest influence, I saw very little in behaviors that would nurture connection beyond initial meetings, at which I excelled.
People who met me were impressed with my upbeat spirit & sunny smile. Then I opened my mouth & out came toads & vipers. Cynicism, sarcasm & cutting remarks. The way I thought everyone talked because it was all I heard from my older sibs. Small wonder people backed away.
By the time I’d remedied the gosh awful behaviors, my sense of self confidence in anyone liking me was totally shaken. Worst of all, I felt utterly unlikable. It doesn’t matter if people like you IF you don’t think they do. And I most definitely did not have any confidence in my likability.
Except with John. I was at ease with his acceptance immediately. From seeing his good opinion shine from his face, I came to slowly slowly slowly accept myself as maybe, just maybe being friendship worthy.
Terrible confession – it took until last year, 2016, for me to FINALLY stop seeing myself as inherently highly hopelessly unlikable. Can remember the very moment when I was talking to someone (Karen?) & saying how I was just not cut out for deep friendship, when it hit me that the person I was talking to was exactly what I’d desired since I could first put words to hope. And that quite a few others fit the same bill. And that I am INCREDIBLY blessed to have an astonishing number of casual friends & pleasant acquaintances. That was quite the moment, I can tell you!
Throughout my elementary school years, I was my own worst enemy in how I presented myself. By high school, my idea of what passed for normal conversation was haywire, compounded by my lack of how to nurture wholehearted connections. College was dismal, with me digging myself deeper & deeper into feelings of inadequacy & unlikability. But there were lights on the horizon!
For the first time, realized during my teaching practicum (age 23) that most people do NOT use incorporate cynicism & sarcasm into regular conversation & certainly not in the classroom. Quite the epiphany! Then, at 24, through a communication intervention by remarkably compassionate GUY friends, learned some other hard truths about my miserable messaging. Both of which set me up to be totally insecure about how I was coming across, which translated into a barely perceptible yet strong base note of apprehension, which never comes across well. In other words, I was aware of my failings but had not a clue how to remedy them.
Want a miracle? When John met me, he didn’t see any of that. He saw ME, as I was fresh from the hospital, the person I was before language meant anything to me, before I learned all my nasty, other- & self-negating communication patterns. And because HE saw that person, for the first time so could I. Am quite sure the angels threw a party!
So here I be, Elsa Beth Lockhart Murphy – known to many as DEEV – at 65, feeling immensely grateful for the best possible friend* & my wondrous circle of “marble jar” friends, good buddies, casual amigos & pleasant acquaintances.
My Now Self is grateful to my Past for never giving up, for always believing that there is potential in everyone to be my best buddy, for opening wide the door for my Future Selves to connect nurture grow relationships. And all my selves send a tender best wish to the Class of 1967 for a joyous weekend!!
* “He is so very sympathetic. He didn’t mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as soon as ever I saw him.” Lucy Maud Montgomery