Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Into the Realm of Kindreds and "Best" friends/ Friendship of Women

It has been almost twelve years of close friendship. It is not my longest friendship, a few of my friends from elementary/ high school are going on twenty plus years, however, we don't have continual contact like I do with her. Our friendship is different.

Growing up I had a large handful of friends I could count on. I was lucky enough to live in a small town with a group of peers I valued and connected with. I esteem and live with gratitude for each friendship that has graced my life since my childhood.

But I want to especially honour this kindred soul of mine. I have seen our relationship on screen between Elphaba and Galinda (Broadway's Wicked), Rachel and Monica (Friends), Anne and Dianna (Anne of Green Gables), Anne and Leslie (Parks and Rec), Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (Baby Mamma)...Basically, the substance that "Beaches" was made out of is what our friendship IS.

It's a different sort of love story. A validation of Being. For almost twelve years we have spoken on almost a daily/weekly basis for hours. I only had one other relationship with this level of communication and it was for five years way back in high school. I could never sustain that level of consistency with anyone else even if I wanted to (outside of my husband and children.) I don't know why that is - it just IS.

Perhaps some of the kindredness of our souls is from our efforts in the beginning years? Our first and only fight a couple years into our relationship about our children helped us form boundaries. Our children are the same age and also best friends. Since that disagreement we decided on what we would prioritize in our relationship...ten years later and we still have not shared harsh words. We have our annoyances but we don't talk about them. We agree to just give them time and pick up when we have settled or we verbalize our concerns in considerate ways. Respect is a crucial element of our friendship. We also know how the other ticks. She is an INTJ and I am an INFJ. We are an excellent match due to our future orientated, perspective taking, introverted nature. Our foray into psychology and personality cemented our understanding.

We have many differences. Her children are in school, mine our homeschooled. She knows my passionate standpoints on this subject but she also knows that I understand, respect and even admire her decisions regarding her own kids. I know why they are in school and I support her. She knows why my children are not and she supports me. Our stances our similar regarding the earth and people in it. We both grew up VERY differently regarding religion. I was immersed in it, she did not even know who Moses was. Needless to say this made for some very enlightening and fun conversations for both of us. Funny enough, if it does ever get to stances in faith, we both know we are very similar in our priorities on this subject and neither of us are too engrained in anything to challenge the other. We simply accept.

She knew me pre Aspie diagnosis and post. She has not defined me by either, yet also strangely validated my ways of being. As we talked more she had her own self discoveries in this area. We have interchanged a few traits and helped each other become a more balanced version of our own selves.

Personality aside, I have given great thought to what makes our relationship different. There have been many times when I have felt guilt because other friendships, while amazing, could never attain what I have with her, and I know that sometimes that hidden hope is there for others. We all long for friendships that are strong, true and feel like family. She is more of my family than most of my birth family. I put her next in line after my husband and children. Her children are more than cousins. I can't duplicate that relationship with anyone else simply because it takes a lot of investment of time, explanation and communication.

The first few years of our friendship were spent with both of us explaining ourselves, our beliefs, our mindsets, and our stances. We spent hours exchanging personal information and challenging each other to see an alternative side or researching different perspectives to share with each other while NOT expecting the other to conform to anything. We know (and keep private) what decisions we each choose in certain situations. It also helps that we go through similar stages of family changes. We don't always share the same interests but our interest in human development keeps us in tune with each other. I know I will never get her to enjoy watching certain Super Hero movies or Musicals for hours...but I have converted her to a few....and she knows I will never love watching reality shows although a few of her episodes I found immensely interesting. She will never be a writer by choice, and I will never be as social or attend as many events as she does.

The biggest factor in our friendship is our openness. It took vulnerability, and loads of it, to get to this point. She knows what I say to everyone and most details of my life. She is someone to face the days with when my husband is at work. We both know we would choose our husbands and kids over each other and we are ok with that. We respect each other's space and fall into the ebb and flow of life. There are weekends we don't speak or weeks we suddenly don't talk for awhile but one of us calls and it picks up again quickly.

Early in our relationship we agreed that since we spoke every day and shared almost every interaction we had with anyone, that when we were with other people, we would split up and visit separately. We felt it was not fair to be one of those 'best' couples that rub the joy of belonging into everyone's face. Of course we present a unified presence at times, but mostly, we both know we will go over every detail of the event with each other the following day, so there is no need for us to stick like glue to the other's side. We are stable and secure in our relationship, so unless we are both feeling ill or hugely intimidated, we will spend more time visiting with others around us than with each other.

We are not hilariously funny together though we have our moments. She went to Florida for over two weeks and I forgot to hug her. I thought of it, but it seemed awkward at the time because I am the LEAST huggy person in the world, she knows that, but I felt like I should have hugged her just in case. While she was gone it felt like a piece of my world was missing. She has been gone for longer before but when it's so far away it seems more profound for some reason. We do not text nor do we keep in contact when we are having family time. When she is gone- she is gone- and I get to miss her.

I have often joked that she is my "other therapist." Just hearing her voice instantly calms me in a panic attack. I know this by experience. I can talk through any fear or concern with her, without feeling judged, and am always better for it. Many studies show -  http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/gender/tendfend.html -woman friends have the potential to create a calming effect in each in a way men do not tend to experience. While I have found some women do the exact opposite, great friendships DO calm the soul.

Marilyn Monroe once said, "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control and at times a little hard to handle but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell do not deserve me at my best." The first award for this goes to my husband. He has seen my at my worst when no one has and sometimes even laughs about it. He knows more about me than anyone ever could and he still adores me which is baffling. I have a sting that comes with the power of observation. Yet he reveres who I am. Second place goes to my three children because they see it all. Being in a homeschooled environment means seeing mommy's craziness. Plus, they get to hear all my conversations with her so they know my stances as much as she does. My kids also weirdly adore me despite my little fits and outbursts. They love to tease. My daughter is the Rory to my Lorelei. My sons are my champions and cuddle cups, but my best friend takes third place and I am more than honoured a handful of people in the world love me at my best and my worst.

I may be a Hermit in many ways but I also have extremely enriching relationships inside my home and in some of the outer world. I can't explain the particular Kindred that comes with Alexandria*, but I can say that if she died, a piece of my soul would forever die too. With anyone I regard, I would feel deep grief with death, but with Alexandria it would reach a level that could almost follow up close to my husband and three children in a different non family way. I have been asked so many times what  the difference between my relationship with her and other close friends is. I tell my other friends not to count her in any comparison because she is outside of that realm and should not be the standard other friends try to achieve. It would be unfair to all involved to do so.

I do know that acceptance is one of the largest factors in our friendship. It's not just general acceptance...we know what each other is like in dire illness, we know the different changes in religion and their affects on people, we are both unafraid of hell (which is huge in respecting the other' stances without feeling fear)...we know key differences in how we both work in the world yet our fear is strangely absent with each other. Without fear, acceptance thrives and with acceptance comes understanding which creates a bond that is very tough to break.

If this type of friendship is going to happen it will be both in a natural way and with a ton of work, investment and time for both parties involved. Every person deserves one or two people in their lives, for different time periods, that will stand beside them in acceptance and understanding. I have been lucky enough (see Friendship label) to have many beautiful other Kindreds in my life. Just because it is not at the same level of belonging does not mean that their friendships are less. All wonderful friendships are simply different and awe inspiring in their own right. I hope my children one day have at least one Soulmate or Kindred who completely gets them but even if they do not, if they have even one of the relationships I had with the many amazing counterparts I have shared on my journey in life- I will be happy. Acceptance and Understanding with at least ONE- but more than that, for themselves FIRST- this is my wish for my children, friends, and for the world at large and it takes bravery. I wish self acceptance, vulnerability and bravery combined with compassion for our future generations.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.
Because this is her favourite show:


Anonymous said...

Wow!! This was extremely sweet and I agree, its different realm..thats how i would explain it..!! (Alexandria- ha ha:)

Kmarie Audrey said...

Lol..Could you tell I was getting extremely sappy and missing you...how about you stay around Canada from now on?:) Seriously, my husband realized how much of my conversational persona is directed at you - and when you are gone- how much I chatted his ear off:) Needless to say this post was born out of a bluesy moment with cheesy friendship songs playing in the background...but I DID mean every word...I also figured it was a good follow up to the Hermit post...so people know I am not advocating to be without support either...its a balance...

Yes a different realm...my dear Alexandria:) lol

Ashe Skyler said...

'Tis a very rare relationship to have. I hope you two have it for many more years still. =)

As a stubborn little Capricorn through and through, I find it a mercy not to let people see me at my worst. You think a Capricorn can be stubborn and bull-headed? Try an Aspie one! ^_~

Kmarie Audrey said...

Thanks:) Me too...

Lol...oh Capricorn! I hear you....It's rare for people to see my worst self too:) LOl. Too funny.