I have some very good girlfriends, I realized today.
When the Husband was sick I felt abandoned by everyone, everyone but my internet family. And today I realized that the problem wasn’t that I don’t have good friends, the problem was that I can’t let people in when I’m down. I have to put up a strong front, I have to keep it together, I also have a bit of “money guilt” (interesting subject in which I’d like to delve in the near future), I’m lucky, I can hire help when I need it, so I feel like I can’t and shouldn’t ask friends for help. This is pretty stupid of me. On my old blog I could talk (almost) freely about how his illness affected me, about the hard parts, and I felt a strong sense of understanding and support from my internet friends but when my real life friends asked how I was, or if I needed anything, my answer was always a chirpy “fine”, or “life is what it is”, and “not a thing, thanks”, when it probably should have been come on over and bring some wine I need someone to get shitfaced with and cry.
Of course through most of the Husband’s hospital stay I was breastfeeding, but I could have asked for ice cream, right?
I was lonely because I put up walls.
I’m better now, I’ve ventured back into the world so to speak, I actually have the energy to see what’s going on around me. I had a bunch of my “anglo” girls over for coffee today, it’s a great group of women who are all originally from English speaking countries (some American, some Canadian, some Brits, some Australian and South African) who all ended up in this tiny corner of rural Italy. We get together and speak our mother tongue, gripe about Italy, complain about the proximity of our in-laws and the distance from our own families, we drink coffee or wine or cocktails (depending on the time of day or our respective moods) and we stay sane, away from home.
One of my friends is going through an ugly divorce (which is clearly all her asshole husband’s fault), another is struggling with a newborn and a slightly older baby that barely counts as a toddler (yeah, contraception doesn’t always work), one wants kids while her husband doesn’t and has to listen to her biological clock clanking away like an amplified bell in her head all the time. Everyone of us has her own personal tragedies or difficulties, large or small, and today I realized I cannot, I will not, allow any of them to put up and hide behind walls when having a friend stand by you could make the difference between depression and despair or strength and understanding.
Because when life throws you lemons all you can do is make lemonade, whereas a friend will call reinforcements, make gin lemon fizzes and strong arm you into a party.