Monday, April 03, 2006

If You Don't Know Me By Now...

... you will never, never, never know me.
Oooh ooooooh.

Or so that's how the song goes. Although, how true it is in real life that we don't really know our friends as well as we think we do. You can spend every day with someone and still not know everything about them, because you will only get to see what they're willing to reveal to you. Its no big surprise that we're not totally honest with everyone, or that we share pieces of ourselves with some but save different parts for others. That's the nature of the beast. Humans are changelings, adapting to our environment as necessary. What you share of yourself with those people who have known you since you were a scrawny 8 year old will probably not be what you share with those who met you when you were a 23 year old, full of bravado, in your first real job out of college.

As I found out this weekend, when a friend is ready to share any hidden tidbits that they have carefully tucked away in a safe, dark place it comes at you with such a force that it leaves you questioning your status in their life. After many telephone calls ending with "We really should get together soon" the Hubby and I had some good friends, and their adorable almost-2 year old daughter, over for dinner yesterday. My homemade lasagna was enjoyed by all (including the 2 year old who deemed it "de-wisus"), Chicky Baby was passed around, we all marveled at how quickly our children were growing and how fast the time flies when life gets in the way. And then... Wham! J., the father/husband, drops this little bomb on us:

"We're thinking of moving to North Carolina."

Wha... ? Huh?

"I think a change of scenery will do us all good."

Where... When... ?

"Plus, the weather is starting to get us all down."

Oo-kay... But...

"I think it will really help K.'s seasonal affective disorder."


I've always known that my girlfriend K. gets a little "blue" in the winter. I don't know too many people who live in New England that don't, myself included. But if my politically liberal friend J. is willing to pack up his family and move to a Red State, where they'll have to make new friends and look for new jobs, then things must be worse than what I've been led to believe. The empathetic side of me immediately worried for my friend K. and wanted to do everything I could to help her. But I couldn't help but feel a bit wounded that she never felt it was important to tell me just how horrible she was feeling. We were roommates while going through our respective divorces! We went to Cancun soon after said divorces and got stupid-drunk together to celebrate. She couldn't tell me that her seasonal depression had gotten so out of control that she was willing to change her life so drastically? I'm a little hurt.

I'm not typically so narcissistic. Often, when K. and I get on the phone to have one of our hour-long gab sessions, I spend about 50 minutes of that hour listening with the occasional "Aha. Yep. Wow. Then what?" thrown in. What have we been talking about in that length of time that, somehow, I didn't find out until yesterday that she's been really depressed?

Knowing K. the way that I do I appreciate that she didn't want to burden me with her problems. But I have been privy to most of her dirty laundry, the woman is usually an open book. I wonder why she felt the need to cover this one up with idle chatter. What I am certain of, however, is that I don't want my friends to move away.

Maybe I should buy her a mood light?


Anonymous said...

Maybe she was embarrassed? Who knows. My hubz has that and it is horrible. I feel for her.

I hope she doesn't move away too :)

Chaotic Mom said...

Maybe she didn't have a name for it until recently? Like maybe this season she's had a much worse time dealing with it than in the past.

I actually like NC's weather MUCH better than the NE, wouldn't mind moving there for that alone.

Hmmm... Friends not sharing all with us? How about spouses. You can live with someone for YEARS and still miss bits and pieces, eh?

Sandra said...

That is hard. I went through something similar myself with a friend who didn't share with me when I would have expected it. I was hurt. I knew I should have been more concerned about her but it really hit me.

Divorse and other dirty laundry are often easier to talk about than depression. Admitting you are depressed is so ridden with shame and fear and all sorts of things that are tough to rationalize. And maybe it was really recently that she found out that she had this condition and this was their way of sharing. Finding out may have caused them to make really fast and intense decisions so it might not have been brewing in the background the whole time.

But most importantly you know now and you sound like an amazing friend so she can know you are in her court to help her know that she's let you in.

IzzyMom said...

As someone whose closest friends don't even know I have a blog (yes, I know I'm terrible but I have my reasons) I don't have much to offer except to say I'd be a bit hurt by such a glaring omission and sad that my friend might move, also.

Her Bad Mother said...

I'm gonna go with embarrassment. I didn't tell good friends that I'd been 'diagnosed' - in advance of giving birth - with post-partum depression. Tack the word 'depression' onto anything and even the most together people shrink a little bit, and fear for what even their best friends will say or think. And seasonal-affective disorder is probably all the worse for this - she's probably heard/read in all corners that it's all in her head...

Anyhoo. You shouldn't take it personally. She's lucky that she has you as a friend. I hope for your sake and for hers that she stays nearby!

MrsFortune said...

If it were me I would be afraid you'd be mad at me. I struggled with telling people when we moved here, because I was afraid everyone would be mad at me. So maybe she feels the same way?

Bridgermama said...

There are some things that I tell my closest friends, then there are those things that I share only with K. It's not because I don't trust my friends or think that they will understand, it is just that I am afraid that I may be labled or worse yet, pitied. I couldn't handle them feeling sorry for me, I am way too proud for that. This is completely my hang-up and no reflection on what types of friends they are.

Regardless of her reasons, I am sure she realizes what a wonderful friend she has in you.

ms blue said...

Telling other people your secrets can make it all too real. It is easier to chat about everything else so that you don't have to face your problem.

Anonymous said...

I do think there is something about talking in person, versus on the phone. I always find it easier to be more honest and open when talking to someone face to face. Maybe she was just waiting for this opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Oh that sucks. As someone who suffers from depression I don't hide it but even during the most open conversations it just rarely seems like the right time. And I deal w/it so when you tell people about it you get a lot of pitty. Maybe she was afraid of that.

I'm sorry your friends are moving. Good friends are hard to come by, hate when they leave.

I so need a mood light.

Stacy said...

That's a bummer. If she depressed though, won't moving make it a little harder to get a handle on it?

Heather Bea said...

Ya know when you are living with depression after a while I think you just start to assume that people know. I dealt with it for a year before I realized I had never spoken with my best friend about it. I realized it was really hard for her to deal with, she felt bad that she should have known and I felt bad that I didn't confide in her. Another thing about depression is that you tend to keep it bottled up, not wanting to talk about it. I hope she feels better, I know that one of the reasons I wanted to Portland move was because of my own depression, but I was the opposite, I missed the rain.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Thank you for all your comments. Each one of you had a point that made a lot of sense to me. I should know better (as someone who has suffered from depression in the past) that we don't always want to talk about it, even with those closest to us.
You guys rock!

Carolyn S. said...

Everyone gave such thoughtful comments. I was going to suggest introducing her to blogging so she can express herself.

Amy said...

Boy oh boy. I am sad for you both. My take on this is a little different perhaps. I kept a "secret" from my very closest friend. It was not out of embarrassment, it was because I knew how deeply she would be effected by it. I know how hurt she would be that she couldn't help me or get me out of my jam. Although I did turn to some others, I felt so much closer to her that it sort of backfired. I wanted to spare her the pain of knowing I was in pain. Is that kind or is that selfish of me to not have let her befriend me thru it all? I'm not sure. When I finally did let it all out, my friend was physically ill for days. (it had to do with my discintegrating marriage) And I knew she would be. She understood why I did not tell her and then worked through my life's situation on her own, and has been my rock ever since. It just worked for me to let her in last. She was the one who would be hurt the most, and I figured there was enough hurting going on. I know you feel left out - but I think your friend is going to miss you lots when she moves and telling you would have been one of her hardest tasks - which is why her husband is the one who let the cat out of the bag. Don't let it effect your friendship. My dearest friend, my sister/friend, is 600 miles away from me. Keep posting about it - I think a lot of us have been there.

Bobita said...

I feel bad for her.

And also for sound very disappointed to lose your friends to a 'red state!'

What if you make the first move? Just let her know that you wish she had come to you about how she was feeling, but understand maybe why she didn't. And then be honest with her about how much you will miss her.

Sometimes others need us to make the first the "hangin' it all out, regardless" honesty stuff.

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