Greta held my hand, quietly let me pour out my story, and never offered a clichéd response. She knew I needed to let it all out, to rail against the injustice of it all. To finally tell someone of the gut-wrenching pain that I was burying inside. Once I was done, I was spent. I had nothing left in me. I was mortified that I had blurted out my problems. It’s not something I was supposed to do. I was supposed to suck it up and soldier on, take one for the team. What would people think of me? Of Alex and I? We worked so hard at appearing perfectly happy. We couldn’t let anyone know that our precocious selves had royally botched things up.
And then I ran. Okay, not literally, but figuratively. How could someone see so easily past the walls that I had painstakingly built? I was suspicious, wondering if someone had said something to Greta, prodding her to speak to me. Did someone recommend she talk to me since she has a background as a professional counselor? Why talk to me now after all this time of me being “invisible?” Yes, I was a bit paranoid, skeptical, and unsure. Anxiety was a roiling river in my stomach. I couldn’t believe that I had told someone of our problems. What would she think of me? Of us?
That weekend, I e-mailed Greta, the beginning of a year of “book length” e-mails back and forth (okay, mostly “book length” from my end). I dumped my anxieties and suspicions on her, begging her to tell me the “truth.” Here’s what the first one looked like where ellipses where my best friend, punctuation was a luxury, and riddled with insecurity:
Hey, Greta…I know this isn’t probably what you want to see first thing back to the office, but I’ve been thinking and I figured I’d write it all so I don’t forget (which probably won’t happen). In any case…just so you know, we don’t need to discuss this at work since it can take away from work time and you getting things done. (me too…) So whatever works for you or not at all…I’m easy to please. This is just a list of questions for you…answer what you choose. You’ll discover (if you probably haven’t already noticed) I write easier than I talk. I think clearer…I don’t know why (okay…I do…but we won’t go there). Anyways…just some things to think about…maybe it’s all nonsense, maybe it’s not, I don’t know. All I ask is that you always be honest with me (don’t hide anything from me…including criticism, etc.). Here it goes:
1. How did you see what I was feeling?
2. What gave it away?
3. Did Al and Ashley talk to you about me?
4. Did they recommend you talk to me?
5. What made you offer now? (since we don’t know each other extremely well, yet…although maybe it’s because we’re similar in a lot of ways…scary thought, huh?)
6. What did you see? What do you see?
7. Just some FYI’s…I don’t want this to be a friendship based on helping me (selfish thought, huh?) or always about me…I want it to be a real friendship. All I’m looking for is a friend…someone who cares, can confront, can challenge, can love and go beyond the fluff surface stage of friendship. And not be intimidated by my “tough” talk or “independentness” (is that a word?). Don’t be serious with me all the time…have fun, be dumb, be silly, whatever. I love humor and laughter. Don’t treat me like a client…treat me like you would a friend. I hate to be so serious about this and it probably shows how too emotional and intense I am, but I hate playing games (yes I know…hypocritical of me…since I did that in answering your questions at dinner…I’ll try not to). I’m more of a person where either you are or you aren’t. Believe it or not…this is how I reacted to Alex’s question of if I wanted to date…he was a bit scared of me…but he persevered (no…this friendship won’t lead to marriage). Do you understand my thoughts on this? Am I being way too out there or unreasonable? Sometimes I can be…sometimes I think to much.
8. It’s hard for me to accept that you want to be a real friend to me and that you care that much. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that I’ve acted the way I have so far…I’m a skeptic, what can I say?
9. Why do I hold on to hurts so much? Why can’t I get over them and move on? Why do I carry it and not let go? (you may not be able to answer this).
10. Do you believe in soul mates? Do you believe God has only one person for you or more than one?
That’s all for now. You’re probably grateful. As I said, you don’t (and I don’t know that you should) need to talk about this during work hours…maybe at lunch or whatever…I don’t want to distract you from other work you have to do. I’ve managed this long…longer won’t kill me.
Take care…hope you’re having a good weekend. See you on Tuesday.