True Friends

True friends are going to be there no matter where life takes us.

As I think about the summer and how the hot days are still here but the fall is just around the corner, I think about the excitement that I see in little kids. There are so many programs and camps available to kids and the wonder and intrigue that kids are able to explore are vast. To say that a child using their imagination in the summer is a gift is an understatement. The truth is that a child never really stops imagining things. If they did, they wouldn’t be able to experience as many emotions as they do. It’s because of this that my mind is thinking about several things. It’s thinking about life in general and really, really good friends.

Many of the adults get lost in the day to day operations of life. Having children keeps many of them grounded but what about those like myself who are single, middle age, no kids and don’t feel like we’re getting old? I know for myself and for my friends who are in similar situations, our bodies are telling us we’re aging but not our minds or our zest for new adventures. In fact, it’s the opposite. One of my best friends has decided to go to law school. Kudos to her! She has had to deal with a lot of personal tragedies and has come out on the other side able to say to those who wronged her and her family that they will never beat her spirit.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the last few weeks about various topics and one of the things I found was an article about how childless people should not be allowed to attend Disney. Seriously? If adults without children are forbidden to attend places like Disney where Disney himself wanted a place where EVERYONE should have a chance to use their imagination then there is a huge discrimination issue. It’s bad enough that people without children get discriminated against in the workplace but this is really getting ridiculous. And before you start the argument about the pedophiles and others who abuse children, that also happens with people with families. People without children do not get consideration on holidays. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. We are constantly told, “well you don’t have children so you can work it so that others can be with their families.” No offense but what a crock! It shouldn’t matter if a person has children or not. That doesn’t mean that someone without children doesn’t have a life or a family. It doesn’t mean that a person without a child is any less significant than someone with children. The bottom line comes down to the fact that you don’t know what someone has had to go through. You don’t see their infertility struggles or what’s on the inside of a person. All anyone can see is what is presented for the world to see. It’s not always a simple thing.

Then I go to work and I watch how a company that is like a lot of other small companies is trying to find its footing. They claim to be corporate but they don’t really function like most corporate offices. There are no performance reviews, no acknowledgements when managers change facilities or birthdays and very little to no incentive to keep the staff they have. Those of us who stay are not staying for the money or the opportunities, or rather lack thereof, we stay because it’s a decent job, the people who work in the company are good people, and we truly love our customers and the facilities that we are located at. There’s something to be said for feeling like a good job is done. I know I for one love to know I’ve done good work.

As I watch most of my friends, I see how strong each of them are and what they bring to the table. My friend Darla, she is a bulldozer. This woman has endured the gates of hell and then some. I first met her in what seems to be a hundred years ago, although that’s not feasibly possible, she was sixteen and I was in my early twenties. Little did I know that she had been dating my then boyfriend/future husband around the same time I was. We both found out a lot later on but the pieces started falling into place and when the truth finally came out, well, let’s just say that I was no longer angry. I just hugged her and moved on. Darla is a forcefield all rolled up into one package. She has been through basic training in the navy, flipped houses, worked as a paralegal, worked in travel agencies, retail, caregiving, etc. You name it, she’s pretty much done it all. She is one of my friends who understands about not being able to have children. Her body can’t take having a child either. We have both been through all kinds of problems with relationships (which she is happily involved with her love and has been for well over a decade), personal drama involving family, professional drama, and all kinds of irritants along the way. Instead of letting it destroy her, it’s propelling her to a new life. I’m very proud of what she’s accomplished and what she will continue to bring to the table.

Then there’s Debbie. What can I say about Debbie? A lot. She will tell you she’s a “fat chick” but I don’t see that as the best way to describe her. Debbie is dynamic. She has a personality that will call a “spade a spade” in a heartbeat. The woman can cook, can, has one of the greenest thumbs around, is a man magnet, and will not allow someone to make her feel inferior for anything. She’s a caretaker and she’s damn good at her job. She stays informed, she researches, and asks a lot of questions. She doesn’t take a lot of crap from anyone, male or female, and has a heart bigger than not only her body but bigger than at least Texas and California put together. These two women continuously inspire me. There is no question about that.

Then Renee’. God love her. This woman is my rock. We’ve been best friends since we were twelve. She’s the first one to call me out on my bullshit and let me know when I’m out of line. She’s also the first one to tell me “I told you so”. She’s really the only one allowed to do that. She just likes to hear she’s right all the time for validation. Renee’ has been through everything. Four children and a step son have given her a strength that few people have. Almost a year ago, Renee lost her youngest son Nathan in a tragic accident. No one should ever have to lose a child. She understands better than most what I went through when I lost my child. While she was able to raise hers, mine never lived to be born. My heart ached for her when she lost Nathan. She’s lived in all kinds of environments, including living in a tent for two years in a quest to become debt free. She’s also one of the most able minded researchers I’ve ever met who is consistently taken for granted. Renee’ could probably get a fencepost to talk back to her by arguing with it long enough. Out of all my friends, she’s known me the longest. She also knows when I need space. I don’t tell her enough how much she means to me. She truly is the sister I never had.

It is through these kinds of friendships that support is imperative. Welcome to my ecclectic group of friends and support.

Then up next we have Shari. I don’t get the opportunity to talk to her like I used to. I used to say that Shari has more drama in her life than a Jerry Springer show had time to let viewers see. Shari is another one of my friends who is a male magnet. I don’t know that I would want to have that as a skill. I have enough problems in my life without adding a man in the mix. Besides, there’s only one man that I really want. Whether it works out with him or not remains to be seen. What I do know is that when you really love someone, going out with other people never works. You end up transferring emotions and someone will always get hurt no matter what. In Shari’s case, she usually has two men that are always causing her headaches. They seem to love making her life miserable. Shari loves to control the situation and when I first met her, she had become a ball buster, she’s mellowed a lot and I really hope she finds the hammer and starts ball busting again because I really get tired of seeing her get hurt. Shari is down to earth, smart, beautiful, and intelligent. Her biggest problem is that she tries to take the power in relationships and not want to relinquish that control. She and the man she talks most about do the same thing. At some point, the train will wreck. Sometimes the best thing in the world we can do is walk away from the toxicity before it destroys us. Someday she will learn she’s okay to stand on her own two feet. In the meantime, all I can do is continue to be her friend and support her. I know what it’s like to not want to walk away from someone I really care for.

Then there’s Cathy. Cathy is full of energy. She has customer service skills down to an art. There are some things that you just can’t teach in this world. As Cathy says, ” you either have it or you don’t”. Cathy is one of the very few people in this world that I will do everything in my power to come through for. She makes working fun. The woman is a walking encyclopedia with different areas of storage. She is the epitome of a strong leader. She’s been there when a lot of others haven’t and I’m truly grateful for everything she does. She’s not only my friend, she has become a very close mentor and family all rolled into one. She and I both love Marvel movies and shows and we are both die hard NCIS Los Angeles fans. We’re both excited for the upcoming season. She goes fishing a lot and I’m always excited to see what she caught.

Then there’s Ken. The lone male in the group. Ken is unique. His story is a very powerful one. One of these days, I’m going to have him write his entire story for all of you to see. The main thing that you all need to understand about Ken is that he literally functions with half a brain. Almost 28 years ago, he had half his brain removed. Ken had severe epilepsy and was given the opportunity to change his life with a surgery that would hopefully stop his seizures. To this day, Ken swears that God told him that he would never have another seizure after the surgery and so far that has held true. Ken is now able to drive himself around. He’s been married and divorced. He holds down a job, lives on his own and functions better than many who have never had physical impairments. Ken’s biggest obstacle is that learning for him is different than most other people. It takes him longer to read, he doesn’t always know how to give you specifics in conversations, and he loves to talk about the Washington Redskins and LA Lakers. He’s a diehard fan to both. Ken is the type of a person who is a homebody. Being social is not one of his strong suits alone. Ken really wants to settle down and the women that he’s been dealing with all want either money (which he doesn’t have) or a green card. He’s very wary of online dating now. He’s more of a loner though and he only goes out with me and his sister most of the time which causes a problem because people think we’re dating and we aren’t. Men and women can be friends without dating folks. Besides, my heart is taken. It has been for years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Ken deserves someone who will love him for who he is and not try to change him. I truly hope and pray that he’s able to find that person. He deserves happiness.

There are others that I have been close with and still care about but have learned that I don’t have much in common with anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t care. It doesn’t mean I don’t consider them friends. It just means that time has made a difference and just like the summer comes and goes, friendships and relationships change over time. If those that I talk with don’t see their names on this blog, I hope they don’t get offended. These are the people who stay in touch and keep me grounded.

So why am I talking about my group of friends? Maybe it’s to let others in on the fact you can have a very diverse group of friends and be well rounded. People change just like the seasons do. What doesn’t change is that no matter how much time passes, true friends will be there no matter what. They won’t judge you, they may give you a hard time and kid you around but true friends have your back. In my case, with the exception of Renee’ and Shari, my closest friends don’t have children. In many ways, we’ve become each other’s adoptive family. We don’t consider ourselves outsiders. We try to lift one another up when society rubs it in our face that being childless is not normal. Sometimes we need each other more than we realize and other times we just need a breather. Either way, there is no judgment with each other.

I hope you all have people in your lives who are true friends. They are the cornerstone of being grounded and feeling appreciated. I know that they always make me feel like there is nothing in this world I can’t accomplish because they are my support. I truly am grateful for the friendships in my life that are true and for those friendships I’ve yet to make that are just as incredible.

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