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To be loved

It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.

Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

I’ve talked a lot about relationships, and I will probably continue to do so for a long time. I’ve said before that I feel like my relationships with people is what defines my time on Earth.

But I’m coming to realize just how important I am to people. And it’s a weird thought.

I mean… I don’t what I mean, exactly. Let’s see if we can work this out.

Obviously I’m important to my family. We have a close-ish relationship, even if they’re baffled by me half of the time, and me them. I’ve finally reached the point in my life that it’s no longer an adult-child relationship, but rather one between adults who share a special bond. I’m not treated as a child (finally, I’m almost 40 for fuck’s sake), but rather a member of the inner circle, so to speak. Even if we don’t agree, my opinions and beliefs are seen as valid and not that of a stupid punk kid. A few years ago my stepdad legally adopted it. It was something instigated by me, and it was a great experience. He and I have a great relationship. I remember during one of the pre-interviews, we were asked what religion we were. Mom: Catholic, Stepdad: Catholic, Me: Athiest. Everyone in the room just looked me at me. My mom said it was the first time that he heard me actually say it, even if she knew it. That was it. No commentary, no attempted coercion, she didn’t even ask what made me think that way. Nothing. That was it. Just a respect of my own beliefs. Now, granted I have some family that’s very enmeshed in the church, so we won’t be telling any of them any time soon, but the acceptance of my parents meant a lot.

Same with my political beliefs. They don’t match theirs. And despite the fact that they’re rabid Trump supporters, nothing is ever said, my stances aren’t derided. They just exist. And that’s fine. My mom has actually laid down the law that politics aren’t to be discussed in mine and Mike’s presence because she doesn’t want us to feel unwelcome or attacked. She also knows that my stepdad can get really fired up about politics and doesn’t want us on the receiving end of one of his rants.

But that acceptance – of my religious beliefs, my political stance, my tattoos, the fact that I want blue hair – are finally happening. They seemed to have dropped the ideal of what they wanted me to be and accepted who I actually am as a whole person. They don’t just acknowledge the pieces of me that fit into their world view, but rather take me as I am.

It’s nice.

Onto the next one. Mike.

He showed me a TikTok video of a guy going through his whole life with his now wife, and at the end he rolls over in bed and says something along the lines of, “this isn’t just a friend thing, is it? I mean, you’re not just being so nice that you feel bad leaving?”

Holy crap. That’s how I feel with Mike, especially, but also damn near all of my friends. I’m starting to learn that people actually like me and want to be around me. They like me for who I am, not what I can do for them. They like being around me. They actually like, *gasp*, me. That’s a weird thought to have. I’m not used to people liking me. I’m used to being the odd duck, the weird one, the one that’s kept around for the comic relief. But because they find value in me as a person.

And I’ve come to find that sometimes just talking to me makes people’s days better. I have one friend (the one whose girlfriend doesn’t know that we’re friends), who I chat with on and off over the course of a day, who flat out told me today that I make his life better. He and I relate to each in a way that he apparently doesn’t find with many people. We can talk about anything. Literally. He’s become a close friend, a trusted friend, that I know I can call on if I need anything. We’ve been very real with each other about our struggles with mental illness, depression, and anxiety, and we get each other on a level I have a hard time reaching with most people.

He understands that I’ve been broken many, many times and have put myself back together. That there are cracks in me yet. And he has the same kinds of cracks. Don’t get me wrong, Mike gets it to a certain extent, but he’s never experienced it first hand. He’s just seen me go through it. He sees what these kinds of things can do to a person, but he doesn’t know what it’s like to experience it. This guy does, though. He knows what it’s like to be on the brink and have to claw your way back one agonizing handful of gravel at a time.

Luckily, Mike isn’t one of these dudes that thinks that women and men can’t be friends, that they can’t share anything that isn’t sexual. He knows that this guy provides something in my life that he can’t, and he’s okay with that. But again, this attests to the strength of our relationship.

Mike’s never been worried or weird about me having guy friends. He trusts me enough to know that I’m not going to fall into bed with every guy that shows a passing interest in me, even if that interest is just friendship. We do a lot together, but we also do a lot separately. We’ve never been one of these couples that has to be attached at the hip at all times. And I think he figured out early on that I need my space, my independence, my own friends, and a life outside of him. Someone asked me today if Mike was off with me the next two days. I hated to admit it, but I had no idea. (Turns out he’s off both days, but has plans on Tuesday, which is fine with me.) I just hadn’t put his schedule in my phone or planner yet. Either way, more proof that over the last 16 years he’s managed to give me what I needed. That he gets me better than any man ever did.

A good friend of mine just texted me asking if I wanted to do virtual happy hour on Tuesday. She and I met through work, but discovered that in many ways we are the same person. We share a number of hobbies, interests, musical taste, etc. (She jokes that when I die she’s going to move in on Mike. I totally give that one my blessing.) But again, nothing prompted this. It’s just a let’s hang out together apart. We’ve done this most weeks since COVID-19 started. Just get together via FaceTime and chat and drink and hang out. It’s a good time. But again, she gives me a kind of companionship that I’ve been longing for my whole life. A friend that just wants to hang out, do things together, and there’s no ulterior motive. I had a friend like that in college, but life and geography pulled us apart.

In case you haven’t been able to tell, I have a really hard time trusting people. I tend to assume the worst – that they want something from me, that they’re going to drop me the second things get complicated, etc. I’ve experienced it far too many times in my life, and I think in a number of cases it directly contributed to my problems with mental illness. This is why, for a lot of years, I didn’t have close friends. I’ve been a very solitary person throughout most of my life, and it’s nice to realize that I have people in my life now that genuinely care about me and want me around.

That’s a really nice thought.

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