The Other "F" Word


May 8, 2015

Can you be an extroverted introvert? Or an introverted extrovert? I’m one of those. My moods tend to dictate which “vert” is dominant on any given day or at any given moment actually. As a fifth grade teacher, I have to be extroverted. My job depends on my ability to capture and sustain the attention of a classroom full of eleven-year-olds for 84 minutes at a time. Have you ever seen that dog treat commercial where the pup says, “Bacon!” over and over again? That’s what I imagine is happening in many of my students’ minds most of the time. So, to battle the bacon beckoning, I do my best to put on a good show every day during class. Like I said before, as a teacher, I am extroverted. That’s the “Teacher Me.” But that’s not really who I am. Not really. In truth, I’m actually kind of shy. My bipolar 2 diagnosis came as no surprise when I received it a few years ago. My mood swings were apparent early on. In fact, all my life I’ve had trouble creating and sustaining good, healthy relationships. What I’m about to tell you is very difficult to admit. First: I’ve been married before. Twice before, actually. And second: I could chart my life on a timeline marked not by years, not by jobs, not even by husbands. No, I could chart it by friends. There were the “Laila* Years” and then the “Sharon* Years” followed closely by the “Krysta* Years” and the list goes on. So the fact that I’m on my third (and LAST, thankyouverymuch) marriage is NOT what is most humiliating. No, what I’m most humiliated by is the fact that I don’t have many friends. Not really. If you’re looking at my Facebook page you’re saying, “Of course you have friends! Look at all those friends! Oodles of them!” Sure, “friends” on Facebook. But real Friends? The capital “F” kind? The kind of Friend who turns to you when they need a shoulder to cry on, a funny story to share, or someone to hold back their hair when they’ve had too much to drink. I mean that kind of Friend. Besides my husband, who is by far and away my very best Friend on the planet, my Friend pool is quite shallow. But please, don’t stop reading. This isn’t a “Feel Sorry for Me” post. I promise. Because, honestly, it’s my fault. The pre-diagnosis/medication/therapy “Me” was pretty difficult to be around. There were times I couldn’t stand to be around myself, so I have no idea how anyone else could. I totally get that. I do. And since I’m naturally an introvert, making Friends hasn’t been too easy. But now as my life is settling down, and I have a loving husband, a calming home life, and a solid career, I feel like it’s time to focus on building some Friendships. The capital “F” kind. Which brings me to the purpose of this post. C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” And I think I may have met that kind of friend today. I mean, it’s a little early to say for sure. But there was that “What? You too?” thing going on. We talked and talked and laughed and cried. Yes, full disclosure: there was a little crying. But I don’t want to jinx it, so for now I’ll just say this: Hey, Friend, if you’re reading this, “I thought I was the only one.” *Names have been changed for privacy.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for a lovely, uplifting post on Friendship…you told my story, too! Happy Mothers Day! Love, Nana xo

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    1. Thanks for reading! xoxo Happy "Nana's" Day!

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  2. Good news! It gets better! After medication, I felt strong enough to broaden my friendship horizon. I accept that not every single woman I feel a connection to is going to necessarily be my BFF. I love having different circles with different friendships at various levels. Before diagnosis, I could only manage one strong friendship at a time, much less open myself to other potential relationships.

    I love your honesty! Great post!

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  3. Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear it does get better. It sounds like you're well on your way! Congrats to you!

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