It's incredibly difficult to broach the topic of friendship without coming across dreadfully Emo and somewhat pathetic.
I'm one of those terrible clichés, you know, one of those that even when surrounded by people, I feel alone.
The first friendships I can remember were in the 80's in Essex. The Father moved us there from Wetherby when I was four years old. Before Wetherby we lived in Whitefield. Before I was born they'd lived in Plymouth and various areas in and around Hull. Still to this day, Essex was my favourite place that I've lived. I loved the area, the house, school.
I had school friends, who I rarely saw outside of school, friends I only saw at dance class and competitions (yes, me a dancer..... how terrifically absurd) and some friends who were neighbours, however the problem with moving somewhere is that you're the outsider. Even at that tender age you're not one of them. No matter how desperately you try to be accepted you're still the extra wheel. You don't belong there. Others have grown up in the same place, hell, even the same house. They have roots and their roots entwine around each other. They will always be each others first choice, if you're lucky you're allowed to accompany them so long as you remain on the sidelines, the reserve bench. You're only needed or chosen if another has fouled and been sent off the friendship field temporarily. Other times you're absolutely excluded and by golly how utterly furiously sad that made me. I didn't understand it. I didn't understand why they couldn't like me more or why they didn't like me enough. So you try and be funny, and loud and bossy in some futile attempt to exist, to be noticed, to be counted.
Then came the day when after six years, which by the age of ten felt like a lifetime, The Father announces you're moving. To the other end of the country quite literally from the SE to the NW. It took so long for the house to sell that I don't quite think I believed it would ever really happen. It seemed exciting and a talking point. I still remember the day we left, driving away as I stared out of the back window for the last time at 'Home' having no true concept of how far we'd be going and how long forever would be. November 1990 would be the last time I'd feel 'home' until 2007.
The Father chose an area we all hated and the house we all despised. He was nice like that. He'd previously brought us up north for a week or two house hunting (he'd been lodging with a friend for a year or two up north whilst we remained down south) and purposefully picked the one place none of us liked. It's a souless estate, of cardboard cut out detached houses that all look the same. They then had the genius idea of enrolling us in school several miles away with a none driver Mother necessitating a walk and a bus each way to school. I was older this time, it was more obvious that you're not from here, you're a stranger, an outsider. The Children would say hello because the teachers told them so. They already had their friendships that had fermented throughout nursery and infants and the majority of primary school. They neither wanted nor needed new friends. Naturally you gravitate towards same gender same age people, yet you're somewhat crudely grafted on to their friendship circles, granted limited access. It's hard to cement the friendships much when the majority of them had grown up together and lived near each other and see each other after school. It was at this time that the Bonjela incident happened. I'd stay awake at night planning to run away, to get back home. It's only through reflection that the truth becomes apparent, nobody would miss me as much as I'd been missing them, there was no hole that I'd left, it was merely a minor lesion that would have healed within days of my departure. The life and the people I wanted to run back to, wouldn't have wanted me.
A year later it was high school. Some vile rite of passage that mutates girls into rabid bitches, where friendships changed more often then underwear, Looking back now, I do begin to wonder if it was some early part of my disordered personality that made it so difficult for people to genuinely like me and whether
I was simply incapable of functioning socially within any normal parameters. I became the spare best friend, the one people would pick up when they'd temporarily fallen out with their true one, only to be dropped again when they made up. I think through the entirety of high school, upon reflection I only had one true friend the others were merely on loan.
I'd bounce between times of excessive over confidence and bolshiness before withdrawing completely into a bleakness that nobody could detect. The acute feeling of utter isolation was excruciating. I've always had a tendency to crave intensity in social relationships, I don't do casual friendship. I have this insatiable need to connect, to affect and be affected. Whilst my peers messed around with each other after school, I'd be at home in my room, alone but for my books and music. By this time my eating had already become somewhat disordered at time and the adventures into self harm had began. Oh, did I mention this was when I started to write really crap poetry too? I shit you not. I'm such a cliché.
I guess matters weren't help when due to my rubbish ankles I missed six weeks of school in the first year and virtually half of my entire fourth and fifth year. Some of the lads took it upon themselves to nickname me 'New Girl' due to the lack of time in school. I didn't mind, it wasn't cruel like girls could be, it was light hearted and dare I say amusing.
I specifically chose a college that only five people from my school were going to, two of which were friends yet one of those moved to a different college pretty early on in the first term.
I loved college. It was the place were I first started to come alive. To truly be me. At first we were a large group of friends, yet for some reason half of them amputated us from them for reasons still to this day I don't truly know. The only explanation we could think of was that they decided the 'normal' and 'the weird' were no longer allowed to be associated. Well fuck you very much.
I loved the small group I was in. I was one of only three girls within it, the other two were close friends and in all fairness we were more friends by association as opposed to being actually friends. We were merely connected by the others in the group. The others were all males and finally, I found a remnant of home. Apart from my boyfriend, the others were like my brothers. I adored them. We had each others backs. We were all equal. They didn't give a fuck where you were from or how you came to be there. Even now, just thinking about those days makes my heart squeeze immensely. I miss them. Their friends became my friends. Finally I had an exit from hell, aka 'home'. My depression was more flamboyant back then, I'd be hyper bouncy fun one minute then reclusive, withdrawn and insular the next interspersed with random explosive periods of vitriol, but it didn't matter. They were always there. Never judging. They never questioned the erratic and irrational me. Unfortunately lives took different paths and choices led us apart. I inadvertently distanced myself when I met the now husband as they were also friends of my ex who I'd left, I felt he deserved them more than I did.
I had two lives by this point. My real life and my on-line life. Through various channels I met some of the most amazing people on-line, some of which I'm still friends with to this day. I found it infinitely easy to connect there, to seek fellow souls that craved the depth of connection that I craved.
Work was much the same as school, the proverbial outsider. The disposable friend. The occasional spark in the dark that never fed to flame.
It's all so boringly tragic.
Yet now here I am, alone.
I didn't have a hen do for I have no hens. My bridesmaids were The Mother and The Mother In Law. I had no offline friendships to cherish my pregnancies with nor to lean on when things hit the shitter. My 30th birthday was spent just with my self created family unit. I have conversations in my head, for there is no other person to talk to. I stare at my phone knowing I won't call anyone. In my darker moments when fantasies of death copulate with my thoughts It is with the knowledge that I could count my funeral attendees on my fingers.
I'm afraid to get close, to let people in. To need people. To be vulnerable and at their mercy. To be open to judgement. To be left, again.
Those that I adore, I remain at a distance convincing myself I do not deserve their friendship that I have nothing to offer them and that I'd somehow hurt them, annoy them or even taint them. I am nothing. I am nobody.
Others I will pick apart to prevent myself making friendships. To make myself unapproachable. Impenetrable.
I'm awkward and mercurial. I'm intense and vacant. I'm withdrawn and over involved. I'm noisy and silent. I'm hot and cold. I'm loyal and distanced. I'm obvious and obscure. I'm dependable and flaky. I'm too much and too little.
If you have no friends then you can't lose any friends.
There's two significant friends I've lost, that I miss.
I don't understand why they went away. Why they stayed away
It must be me, it's the only explanation.
Yet this loneliness is excruciating.