I’ve been a silent observer of life and its many fascinating facets since the moment I was given eyes to see. One of the most intriguing, and I must admit confusing, aspects of it all is friendship, at least for myself. I’ve come to the conclusion having a small, if not very small, close-knit group of like-minded, yet diverse friends is a satisfying and healthy alternative to the dramatic realm of all that comes with maintaining a rather large grouping of friends.
I’m not what you would call a social butterfly, I’m not even a social caterpillar. I’ll stay right here in my cozy little cocoon thank you. It’s not that I don’t desire friendship or that I shun it when it is offered, I simply don’t seem to fit into many of the molds people think friends should fit into. I don’t care to talk on the phone, I don’t care to go shopping and I don’t care to go out with anyone but my husband or an occasional date with one of my kids.
Many of the women I meet have younger children, my days of parks and play dates have passed. My children face challenges a lot of people either cannot or do not want to understand. Being an autism mother sets you apart from the crowd much of the time. I don’t mind, they say good friends are hard to find, and they are, especially when your life is filled with the trials and triumphs that come along with having special needs children.
Throughout my life I haven’t had many friends, just a select few, including my mother, the best friend I could have ever hoped for. The treasured few friends I have in this life are far in distance, but close in heart. I have mostly memories and mementos I treasure, remembrances of the friends I have been blessed with in this life. Truthfully, I’ve always kind liked it that way. I never thought I needed anything more.
I wasn’t looking when new friendship found its way to me, I was hesitant at first to open myself up to a group of new people, I will forever be thankful I did. Before I met them I used the internet for research, for fun and distraction, now, it is my lifeline to old friends and new.
Like I said, being a mother with special needs children makes for difficult connections sometimes. I found myself in an online group, an autism support group. I thought if anything, I could help others who were following the same path I had traveled since my children were born. I never expected to find support or encouragement for myself, I only wished to give it.
What I found was unexpected and amazing. They embraced me and drew me in, we became a family as we pointed and clicked our way forward. I will never have words enough to thank them for being there for me when I didn’t know I needed them to be. That was years ago, they are still there for me as I am for them. It’s a different kind of friendship, we don’t hang out or have weekend barbeques. We don’t power walk at the mall or go for coffee in the afternoons, but we are always a click away from each other. In recent months, I have found myself immersed with and surrounded by another bastion of new characters I think safe to call my friends.
For me, this beautiful, distant connection is perfect. I am not like most women. I do believe friendship is a wonderful thing, in moderation.
I am not one of those women who have a phone directory filled with names and numbers of people I like, don’t like, tolerate, get the good gossip from, always asking for favors or any of the other unknown reasons women flock together for. I’d blame it on my years of being a military wife, seeing people come and go in and out of our lives, but I know it has nothing to do with that. I was like this even as a small child. I wasn’t anti-social, I just preferred my books. I would rather sit down and write a story than go out and ride bikes on most days.
I’ve always held tight to my beliefs and stood strong on my convictions and that hasn’t changed, but it has changed the people who choose to stay in my life. I have high standards when it comes to the people I allow in. I’m not referring to social status, financial brackets, looks, background, race or religion. I am talking about character and I have found a lot of people just don’t have any.
I want friends who are not afraid to disagree with me and still stand beside me regardless of our differences. I want friends who will give as much as they receive and I want friends who will accept me for who I am just as I would accept them. I want real friendships, friends who do not pretend to be one person in front of me and then another in front of someone else.
It seems to me, through observation, people tend to change ever so slightly (some not so slightly) when in the company of varying friends. I find it odd to watch the dynamics which take place within large groups of friends. Too often I see underlying jealousy or subtle sabotage taking place. I see heartache and desperation when one is wronged and the others are left not knowing which side to cling to. It’s all a bit too much for me.
I do not easily open up and trust, when I do, it is wholeheartedly. I have been hurt because of this, but I have also been blessed with the purest of friendships because of it. I don’t know when or where my next friend will cross my path, I do not know if it will be a forever friendship or a wonderful passing gift. I am not in a hurry to welcome new people into my heart, but if someone comes along who can measure up to those who have come before her, I will with open arms. She will have big shoes to fill for they have been well-worn by angels.
Crystal R. Cook