Monday, August 8, 2011

Personal Lessons (and Their Rewards) in Love and Hate

(Disclaimer: Pictures of this weekend will arrive shortly. For now, I just want to write.)

Well, I sure learned some lessons last week; numero uno: never hope/pray for a normal week. It started out on a positive note, but then rapidly turned into a roller coaster with a broken switch. There has never been a time in my life where I was surrounded by so much hate and hurt, yet so much love and kindness at the same time. By the end of it all, my brain either needed a break, or my head was going to spin around and fly off.

In retrospect, and in my current reality, my previous girls' trip to Denver/Santa Fe was a bust. I had just started taking my antidepressants, and it was difficult being away from my family, especially Zoey, something that my travel companions ended up hating me for and using against me. To hear them talk about it, I was a nightmare to be with, dealing with a variety of issues and, apparently, not adequately placing them on the back-burner. As a result, they decided it wasn't worth being my friend anymore. I had come to that conclusion myself that our days of being close friends were over, for no other reason than time, too much space in between contact, and a very obvious gap in things we currently have in common. During our trip, I felt like I was stepping back into my younger days and it just didn't fit; I didn't want to be there anymore.

I know it is the ultimate faux-pas in our current social culture, but I deleted these friends from my Facebook list in the hopes of disappearing into obscurity. Instead, they took the opportunity to kick me while I was down. Rather than being the friends they always claimed to be and sticking by me through life's' issues (post-postpartum depression, weight issues, anxiety issues, etc) they used them as reasons to no longer be my friend, even though they were nothing but understanding and sympathetic to my face. I wasn't altogether upset with our friendship ending, more so about the way it happened. But I was a fool to expect that I'd be treated differentt; I've been friends with them for years and watched others fall prey to their moral superiority.

Given that I had already made the internal decision to phase out our friendship, I shouldn't have really cared what they thought about me. But, really, it's hard not to. I hit a dip in my life and being verbally beaten (well, e-mail since they were courageous enough to send me vile e-mails but not courageous enough to answer my phone calls) made me question any sort of progress I might have made in getting over my depression. But then God smiled on me and I was rewarded with this last weekend, and the ability to realize that they don't much matter in my life.

A little over a month ago, my former coworker, book-club amigo, and friend thought it would be a splendid idea for a group of girls to spend a weekend at her father-in-law's cabin in the ghost town of Elkhorn, Montana. But end-of-summer plans got in the way so the group dwindled down to 4 - Mer (whose husband owns the cabin), fellow book-club amigo, Breyon, Mer's friend from college, Tara, and myself.

As it turned out, none of us really had good weeks before we hit the road and dropped off of the grid for a while, and it seemed everyone had at least one run-in with an unpleasant individual. My week leading up to our getaway was, like I said before, a roller coaster that just didn't want to stop.

On Monday, I felt great, like a new chapter in my life was about to begin; the calm before the storm, I think they call it. We had a great weekend with my parents and I always feel more calm when Zoey gets to stay home while being babysat. Going to court on Tuesday wasn't the highlight of my life, but it wasn't any more terrible than I expected (I was a little surprised at how many people were there for multiple DUI's, though). The judge was very nice and I'm just thankful I didn't get jail-time and Louis gets to live for me to tell the tale.

Wednesday was the usual trying-to-get-over-the-hump-of-the-week, and Thursday is when I wanted to run off into the woods screaming.

From what I recall, it was your average day. Since Jacob gets off at 4pm and doesn't have to pick up Zoey, he asked if he could stop by and hang out with me until I finished work. Poor guy, he had never hung out at work with me before, and might not ever again: one of my favorite coworkers was fired late Thursday afternoon for reasons that aren't altogether clear to me. But, it's none of my business, and there are two sides to every story. Is still sort-of surprised me and it brought down office morale, as any firing does. When I got home that evening is when I got pummeled with the aforementioned friend's e-mail berating. I spent the night in tears and frank disappointment with the human race, but God made sure to show me that for all of the hate I might encounter, there are equal parts love.

First, my mom, who was there to read my friend's e-mail but had my back whether she did or not. Jacob was called back to work but he is always my rock and was the perfect mix of comfort and anger when he got home to my tear-stained self. My coworker who was asked not to be so anymore used my shoulder to cry on, and my friend, Sunny, told me I was good at talking to people and saying the right things when they're upset. Although I was upset in my own life, I took this as a compliment. Making someone feel lousy is easy; making them feel good is what is hard. In the wake of work-stuff, I also spoke with the new receptionist who told me how much she valued my presence at the office. It made my heart warm to know that people who aren't too busy judging me actually think I'm a decent person.

Friday, I was still feeling residuals since coming to work was weird, and I was tired and dry-eyed from the night before. As the day progressed, however, I felt more like my positive self and, despite the lack of planning I had done for the upcoming weekend, began counting down to our girls' weekend in the woods.

I instantly felt the difference between this trip and my trip to Denver/Santa Fe in June. No question I would miss Zoey, Jacob, my mom, and just being home, but there was a large part of me that actually wanted to go. I wasn't nervous or anxious and my hands didn't sweat the entire time I was gone. I pictured myself sitting in the woods, reading and smoking and not having a care in the world. I was able to do 75-percent of that, though, since we didn't stop talking or laughing the entire weekend.

We arrived Friday night and unpacked our three coolers filled with food and booze, and spent the next 48 hours surrounded by such either on the back deck, front porch, or kitchen table. We did some exploring of the ghost town, but not without a drinky-poo in hand, even learning of the town's history from a man whose grandfather settled the town. You can understand I'd be a little apprehensive about another girls' weekend when the last one so recently went down in a giant ball of flames. I hadn't met Mer's college friend yet and she was worried Breyon and I might not like her because she had so much energy, was high-strung (her own words :-)), and had a tendency to be really random and loud. But Mer told her, "Tara, no one cares." With that, I settled into the weekend and told everyone my third trimester sex story.

I came home yesterday to a happy, smiling husband who - thanks to my wonderful mother watching Zoey - is finally thisclose to having his Honda Civic up and running. Zoey was her usual happy, smiling self and gave me a grin when I walked through the door. We spent the rest of the evening playing and I made her laugh until she screamed.

It's not fair to completely compare my Santa Fe trip to this last weekend in the woods, but I can't ignore that this weekend's trip meant something to me on a personal level. Despite what anyone may think and why, I'm a darn good person. I love those I love with all that I have. I'm polite and have manners. I appreciate everyone for what they bring to the table, take comfort in the fact that we're all different, and stand up for myself. I donate to charity every time I am presented with an opportunity (ok, sometimes I just can't afford it when they ask at the grocery store checkout counter. I'm sorry, but that is not the best place to ask people for money), do my best at keeping my husband happy, love and care for my child, work hard at the office, and spend an ample amount of time with family. The difficult part, I guess, is weeding out the people you have to list all of this for from the people who see it already. Life is too short not to see the good in people and to associate with people who don't see the good in you. Or, as Rachel (of Ross and Rachel) put it, how would you feel if the people you trusted most in the world saw the worst things you saw in yourself and used them as a reason not to have a relationship with you?

"I don't need to live on the edge, I take 4 laxatives at once."