This summer we became acquainted with the parents of one of M-Girl's friends. We had dinner at their house, they had dinner at our house and we became friends. The father has really taken to M-Girl and become kind of like an uncle to her. I realized today that, to me, they've become like the family I no longer have. I'm estranged from most of my family, for reasons that are too numerous and painful to go into now. But the way these friends have acted towards me during this time of stress have made me realize some things about my family, and about myself.
I come from a family of "takers", for lack of a better word. Unfortunately, I've realized that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's not that we aren't generous in our own way - we always give to charity, we do things for other people, we're friendly and nice (most of the time). It's on an emotional level that we have our real problems. It's every "man" for himself. We have trouble in groups because we can't really put the interests of the group - or other individuals in the group - ahead of our own interests. When we do give of ourselves emotionally, we expect something in return - complete and unquestioning adoration and obedience, mostly.
"Look at me! I gave you a hug and told you I love you. What more do you want from me? Time, attention, actual caring? Sorry, too much of my own shit to deal with." or "Time to buy a prom dress? Well, maybe I can go with you but I might have something better to do. Oh, your step mom is going with you instead? In that case I'll for sure be able to be there." or "By the way, we're having a party next week and you'll be there. Seven months pregnant, middle of the summer and no car? Take a train. We expect you to show up."
I was talking with a girlfriend the other day. This summer she's been re-evaluating a lot of things in her life, and taking a close look at her relationships. She's an incredibly giving and warm person. She said she's decided to get rid of the "energy suckers" in her life. Those people that just take and don't give anything, or enough, in return. That's my family. Sometimes, that's me. I don't want to be an energy sucker anymore.
So these friends of ours - they invite M-Girl for playdates and sleepovers and have me over for dinner. They call and ask how I'm doing and make sure I'm not alone too much. They're really there for me, it's not just words. They treat me like my fantasy family treats each other. I feel comfortable with them, like I can be myself and there's no judging, no expectations for anything other than friendship. I think it's time I learn to be a better friend and I think I've found a good example to follow.