Into every life, some good friends will fall

28 12 2013

Spent today in the company of two friends of mine from over 15 years ago. We see each other rarely but there’s a bond there that I hope never undoes.
In my life, I’ve had three life-changing experiences.
Parenting is the obvious one. No one ever leaves being a mother unchanged. Having a child grow within you for nine months rearranges your thinking just as it rearranges your organs. It might be similar for men, but there’s something about having your rib cage permanently expanded to make room for the growing child that sticks them in your consciousness forever.
The other two experiences are rather more unusual. First was my year at the London School of Economics. It was my first time living overseas, my first time so far from my family, my first time immersed in Marxist thinking, creative learning, thoughts about privilege and health and the third world and the evils of capitalism. My mind grew six sizes that year, and like the grinch, I think I smiled inside the entire time as it grew. That year taught me more than the rest of my education, combined. I was so lucky to have that option, and to get married at the point that would force me to take the opportunity.
So two good experiences from my marriage.
The other stemmed from the bad part of my marriage. When I met Maxine and Judy, the two friends I saw today, I was well on the way to being destroyed by abandonment. My self-esteem was bottoming out after many moves, challenging child rearing, and a workaholic partner. In many ways, I might have been healthier if he’d been an alcoholic – there’s sympathy for wives of those, but none for the wives of the hard-working fellah who never wants to think about home. Ten years or so of being told I was less important than dust had worn on me. I doubted my ability to do anything; any slight success was frowned upon if it conflicted with his; I felt certain I had no reason to exist.
And then I met them. They truly lived the Margaret Mead statement of “never doubt that a small number of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” (Or a close approximation of that). They were politically active on large stages and small. They HELPED. They wrote letters, they called people, they made things happen. And they taught me that I could do the same.
And they believed in me.
It’s a smallish thing, but we all need that belief. We need someone to tell us we matter, we are important, we have a role to play, one that we are uniquely capable of playing.
I can never adequately repay these friends of mine for the support they gave me at that time in my life. It truly saved me.
All I can hope is that I’ve been able somehow, sometime, to pass some of that on. I think I have more work to do.

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4 responses

29 12 2013
Diane Tibert

Is it me, but isn’t the route many women take is education, marriage, children, divorce, live again?

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29 12 2013
dorothyanneb

Yup! Seems like we go on. Not sure what the men do, but they seem less content without us.

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1 01 2014
Dave Martin

I think there was a study a number of years ago that showed that married men and unattached women were the happiest and married women and unattached men were the least happy.

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1 01 2014
dorothyanneb

You’re right, Dave. I don’t think marriage is such a good deal for women, somehow. Not sure why that should be. Anyway, I am currently joyfully single (with cat) 😉

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