I have, against all logic, realised that I have become a grown up.
This doesn’t mean that my house is suddenly tidy, I am responsible with money, and I never swear in front of my children. No. Don’t worry; I haven’t had some kind of fundamental personality transplant. But a great big wrecking ball of realisation has hit me. I am a grown up.
What the mascara arse has caused this to happen? Very simple. I have realised what friendship is. I had a friend. Correction: I thought I had a friend. I was there for him, and he was there for me, at a time when we both needed someone to talk to. And then things changed, and we were still friends, but not so close. It was fine, no big deal. And then Dad got ill. And it was a very dark time for me. What got me through it were my friends, and an awful lot of people whom I barely know, reaching out, offering me sympathy, kindness, letting me know that they were thinking of me, my sister, Dad, asking if they could help. But my friend? Nothing. I know he knew that Dad was ill. But he offered me nothing.
It hurt, of course it did. And as things have transpired, I realise now why it was that he ignored my distress. It didn’t fit with his life. Anything boring, dull, mundane doesn’t fit with his life. A white knuckle drunk is always going to be seeking the next thrill. If I can’t provide that, someone else will. That’s not friendship.
I have some very close friends. Mostly blokes. Alistair, obviously, it goes without saying, is one of them, so we’ll kind of leave him out of this. The others? All older than me, people whom I would never have come across, had it not been for twitter. Complete opposites in personality, although they agree on plenty. And I value those friendships more than I can say, although I’ll have a decent stab at trying to convey what it is they mean to me.
They are there for me. I am here for them. We argue, we piss each other off, we ignore each other, we get into moods, we see the worst sides of each other in every possible way. But. We are also honest with each other. I can let my guard down with them in a way that I do with very few people in real life (yes, I know, for all that I overshare massively online, in real life I have an exclusion zone a mile wide). We can have drunken late night conversations about all sorts of bollocks, they make me roar laughing, they make me sob like a bloody child at times too. They have been there for me at times when I have felt hurt, alone, scared, and in every possible way confused. I hope, maybe, that I’ve been there for them when they’ve needed someone too. And just through the everyday stuff. When it’s been a shit day. When there’s not really anything massively wrong, but you just want to moan. Or you need someone to be your dancing monkey and make you laugh. Or just to chat, about nothing much really.
And it has surprised me, because I never thought of myself as being One Of Those Women. You know what I mean. The type of woman who doesn’t have any close female friends (I do, by the way, but for the purposes of this post, I’m leaving them out of this, for which, I am sure, they will be massively relieved). A ‘man’s woman’. You know the bloody type. The simpering, laying a hand on a male forearm to make a point, hair flicking type of woman who makes my teeth itch. Who values herself based on the amount of male attention she can generate. The type of woman who self-deprecates so much that if she fished for compliments any harder would be on the cover of Total Carp magazine every month.
Bloody hell, that’s not me, is it? Not one of those women, who make you feel dull, grey, ugly, thick and useless, because they are permanently groomed and forever posting photos of themselves looking glamorous? Not one of those women who openly flirt with your other half so openly that you yearn to insert a kebab skewer up their nostril? Not one of those women who say ‘I just get on better with men. Women don’t seem to like me for some reason.’ (Yes, I do have an inner monologue RANT to myself when I come across this). Women who will do anything to get male attention, and approval?
No. That’s not me. But it has surprised me that of the closest friends I have, the majority are male. Maybe it’s because I’m sweary. Maybe it’s because I’m a history obsessed moo. Maybe it’s because I refuse to be a Mummy Blogger. Or maybe, it’s because social media isn’t about reinforcing your beliefs about yourself, but about expanding your horizons. Because, online, it’s not so important who you are, but about whom you connect with, and about what you say to one another. You don’t necessarily have to have much in common to build a friendship, unlike real life where we tend to become friends with those we encounter through shared experiences, whether it’s work, in the school playground, or at the gym.
So there’s a lesson there, for me at least. In real life, I’d naturally gravitate towards other women, other mums, thinking that because we superficially have something in common, we’d get on. In fact, the people I’m closest to are nothing like me, and not very much like each other either. But there are things we all have in common. We are grownups. We understand that friendship is reciprocal. We know that adult life is mostly dealing with the rubbish bits, and not about chasing excitement. But the joy that can be found in having a good friend is the greatest comfort I know. And to you guys… you know who you are. Thank you, for being my friend.