Special People: My Best Friend

Hey all! Welcome to the first installment in my Special People series!

This person’s first appearance in my life was not worthy of much attention. We were crammed into the same math class, and I didn’t even know he really existed for the first couple months of school because he sat on the other side of the room. It wasn’t until a mutual friend dragged shy, freshman me to their group that I was introduced to him. Even then, I spent the first few weeks near him and my other new friends in my own little world, trying true to the reclusive, former-homeschooler stereotype.

Little did I know, his raunchy humor, unharnessed desire to do whatever the hell he wanted, and stupidly-lovely blue eyes would lead me to catch an awful disease that many of my peers knew as “feelings.” The result of this hideous disease was a typical first-boyfriend, high school-relationship story, the details of which I will not inflict on you.

After the inevitable end, we rarely hung out with one another. Sophomore year, we shared lunch periods and tables, friends, and words, but we merely existed in the same physical space rather than being friends in any true sense of the word.

Rather than wallowing in the details of that sad year, let’s skip ahead to the third year of our acquaintance. We slowly grew closer. I saw some warmth that he rarely showed, hiding within. This warmth compelled me to let go of past pain, and he realized that being friends with me could be a pretty great idea. We picked up some inside jokes, and actually shared the same space instead of merely allowing our existences to overlap. This friendship grew into our senior year as we spent many of the graduation activities together. We even got our caricature drawn together at our Project Grad.

These memories are what kept our friendship alive through the first couple years after we left high school. College, relationships, and life’s troubles kept us from seeing or speaking with one another often, but after those first years, we found ourselves growing close again. Texting more, hanging out with friends, sharing advice and sass during the rough times, and simply being friends brought us closer together. It was around this time I realized that I had been blessed to have him in my life.

Yes, his life was a mess. His car was an unreliable hunk of metal, his employment history was tumultuous, college hadn’t panned out, and he had yet to recover from a relationship that had drained something unidentifiable, yet unbelievably important from him; he was more broken than together. Despite the awful state he was in, I still recognized the same warmth that had compelled me to grow close to him after that first heartbreak in high school. As months passed, we grew closer. I dragged him outdoors, away from the miserable nest that health issues, work issues, and girlfriend issues had left him in. I made him hang out with my friends. I saw that warmth, and I decided that I was going to everything possible to keep it from drowning in whatever misery life threw at him.

In return, he was there for me. He repeatedly told me, despite the protests from my pitiful self-loathing, that I deserved more than the lies and excuses my then-boyfriend gave me. He was one of the people that drove over an hour to help me move after I broke up with that creepy, lying ex. He became a much-needed support as I stumbled through my last two years of college, another relationship, and all the stress in between. Even when significant others, the same factor that had kept us isolated before, were in the picture, we were close. It was when I realized that not even relationships could draw our attention away from providing support that the other needed that I also realized I had found one of the best friends I will ever have.

I may only have been around for a couple of decades, but I have learned to appreciate those people that come into your life and stick like gum in long hair. There is something comforting about knowing someone has stayed with you through tears, anger, and heartbreak. There is something nostalgic about having seen that same person gone from a 14-year-old, lost boy who couldn’t bring himself to behave responsibly (he knows it, too) to a semi-functional adult; a semi-functional adult who’s blue eyes glisten when he tells a joke, who’s beard scratching my neck during a comforting hug is familiar, and who has grown immensely much as a person. Seeing the growth this man has gone through makes me proud to be his best friend and to have grown alongside him all these years.

Over the years this special person has become my spine when I avoid standing up for myself, my closest confidant, my best “bad decision,” my chief comfort in times of anxiety or sadness, and my favorite partner in crime. Words cannot adequately capture how important this person is to me, all he has done for me, or how wonderful he truly is beneath the brash exterior. All I can say is that he is my best friend.

Happy birthday, my best friend.

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Why Parents Should Express Self-Love

Looks like this post will actually be on time! By “on time,” I mean that I will not be posting it super late tonight. What a concept! How am I managing this, you ask? I am actually typing this last night and used the feature that allows me to publish at a later time and date! I found this because I worked an opening guard shift and am (most likely) teaching a CPR course at the time this is published. What a cool feature!

Anyway, this post is going a bit deeper in the emotional spectrum, and is dedicated to my parents.

 

Dear parental units,

I know that I am not the most affectionate of daughters. I know that I spend more time laughing at your mistakes or jokes than I do telling you I love you or thanking you for all I have done. That is partially why I am writing this. The main reason for this post, dedicated to you, will be explained in the next paragraph.

I have been thinking about a series of memories from my childhood a lot this week. Remember when I was young and you expressed your needs to lose weight? Remember how I told you I would be sad if you weren’t as ‘cuddly’ as I was used to? I don’t think you understood it then, but that was my childish way to get you to see yourselves through my eyes.

I understood that being “skinny” and “fit” was a good thing that everyone wanted. I knew that being overweight was a bad thing. I could care less what your physical shape was. After all, you were my parents. I loved you without condition, and I still do. However, my immature mind interpreted your desire to shed a few pounds as one thing:

“We don’t love ourselves.”

Looking back, I know this was not necessarily the case. I only thought it was because you never expressed self-confidence when talking about your bodies. You never said that you liked how you looked in a certain shirt. You never said that losing weight would make you happy. As far as I knew, you only wanted to lose weight because it would make the rest of the world like you more for some reason.

I just wanted to express that I only asked you to stay ‘squishy’ because I thought it would help you see yourselves through the veil of unconditional love that covered my eyes as well as the eyes of every other child when they look at their parents.

That veil is still there. It may have changed a bit over the years as I have matured and developed a less-selfish and more mature worldview, but it is still there nonetheless. While you chastise me for having three piercings in each ear, wanting to dye my hair, get tattoos, more piercings, or whatever else I want to do, I will always love you.

I’m your little girl. I don’t care what you look like, but I wish you would cut me some slack in the same sense. I am still the same girl you raised and loved, no matter what extra holes or colors my body has on it. When I was little, I understood that you would still be my parents even if your body changed, and I did the best to make sure that you knew that. i only wish you could do the same for me now that I am all grown up and becoming my own person with my own tastes and beauty standards.

I am trying to love myself and be the person I want my future children, your future grandchildren, to look up to. I want to be a mom who loves herself so completely that I can show that to my children even when I am expressing insecurities and humanizing myself to them.

Love,

Your little girl

PS

I know you probably hate it, but the picture I included of you two is one of my favorites. It shows you both laughing back in 2011. I don’t remember if this was taken at a bonfire or some other kind of get together, but it makes me so happy to see you smiling and laughing even though you are in dirty work clothes. This is how I love seeing you guys, so please don’t hate me if you read this and see that.

 

To all the other parents and role models reading this:

I know this post probably does not make much sense, but to all you parents out there, mine included, remember how important it is to show your children (and any other young person that looks up to you) that you love yourself despite your flaws and insecurities so they can grow up knowing how to love themselves as well.