On friendship, old and new

Baby Girl has made a new friend, and thus, I guess I have also made a friend in her mom. It's funny that we base our adult friendships on who our children have befriended and hope that we also like the parents. It's not always the case.

Why this is on my mind is that I was thinking about how I have changed through the years. She and I were talking about being pregnant, and I have a really terrible story about being pregnant with Miss A. I told that story yesterday, and I realized that I don't have a nice and neat way to tell it- to tell about us. It came out sloppy and with all the details jumbled up, and I'm not sure it came across, at least not very well.

There is so much to the story, it's impossible to put it out there in a tidy version that you can present to a new person. And yet, it's impossible for a new person to know me right now without knowing at least part of that story. The pregnancy was only the beginning, a hint at what was to come. And it has completely taken over my life- good or bad, it's just who I am now.

For years, I feel like I have shielded myself. I didn't do it on purpose, but my life HAD a purpose, one that was sitting there staring me in the face. I did what I had to do and I set aside so much of everything else to help her. I didn't think about it or mourn that I didn't have time or energy for much else (very often). Things needed to be done and, for years, I just did those things. That was my 24-hour-a-day job for a very long time. I did not think to ask for help. I really didn't think that anyone could help us. I have always preferred to do things on my own and I fell back into that default.

I finally feel like that season is coming to an end. I can't point to any real reason other than that my girl doesn't require 100% of my attention any longer, which is a very good thing. She is doing so very well. I can go whole days without thinking about what else I could be doing and I no longer worry that the other shoe is hovering, waiting to drop. If it drops, I'll deal with it.

Don't get me wrong, I have a to-do list a mile long, always. That's the kind of person I am, and probably always will be. But now, just right now, I'm beginning to catch my breath. I'm beginning to sit and talk with a new friend and yes, look back at the conversation and notice how incredibly awkward I am with new people, but also to enjoy myself.

I have been the center of my universe for a long time. Of course, we all are, but I see that so many other people have giant support systems in place for themselves. I have not done that. It's interesting to wonder if this is just in my nature, or if my life experiences have guided me toward being that way. When you have a child who is atypical, it can be extremely isolating, even if you are imposing the isolation upon yourself, just to keep yourself safe. When she wasn't talking, I couldn't stand to be around other children who were. When her behavior meant that we couldn't participate in regular activities without eliciting wondering stares, I took us out of those situations. I told myself that I was protecting her, but I was really protecting myself. I didn't know how to exist in that typical world with my atypical child.

I'm learning better now. She's perfectly typical in many ways. And in the ways that she's not, well, that's just who she is, take it or leave it.

But me? I'm still me, really. I just have layers and layers of armor on now, and I'm just now noticing that. I'm noticing how far apart from the world I've set myself, how far I've buried myself in myself.

In the last year or two, I've made an effort to reach out to my old, security blanket friends who have known me forever. Like a balm to the soul, I have reached to them, when I can steal moments away. It is so refreshing to be able to shed that skin. They don't even know me with the skin, they know the old me, the real me. I'm different now, but my core is the same. I don't need to explain that to them, they get it.

I can see that new friendships are going to be difficult for me. We are a mess, one that not everyone will be able to accept. Or maybe it's just that I see us that way? Maybe we are just fine. We probably are.

I may never have my "neat and tidy" introduction prepared. I know it's not necessary. I may never revel in the surface level conversations that seems to be required in so much of "adult" life. I so wish we could just skip past all that nonsense and get straight to the good stuff.

But I know that, even though I call myself an introvert, I am a social person. Best one on one or in small groups, but I miss having my people. I need to figure out how to get my people. I like feeling free enough to recover that part of my life. I'm trying, I'm just really rusty.

Two of my best high school girlfriends, around Christmastime.

Two of my best high school girlfriends, around Christmastime.

And two of my best college girlfriends, last year, on a girls' weekend.

And two of my best college girlfriends, last year, on a girls' weekend.