My Melancholy Lead Me To Become “That Friend…”

to be that friend

(a linkup with Thinking Out Loud, Treat Yourself Tuesday, MMM, and Friday Favourites)

My acting teacher Cindy says that inside my body, lives an old soul. She tells me that despite my youthful appearance, I am mature for my age. And that deep inside, I hold a beautiful melancholy. How melancholy could ever be beautiful was beyond me, I thought as I expressed it was hard for me to make friends because I wasn’t spontaneous like other kids. I didn’t crack good jokes and I didn’t understand theirs. I longed to fit in and have friends think of me not just an option, but one of them. I longed to have them chase me down instead of myself chasing after them. I longed for all of this because I felt much alone in the world. She says it’s because I’m deep; because I have soul. And it is hard for a maturity like mine to to make connections in the superficial, immature world of high school. I tell her that sometimes I feel lonely, but sometimes, I also like to be alone.

She says she was like that at my age too.

“Why can’t I just be fun? Why am I so serious all the time?” I say. “Why can’t I be like other people? Goofy, funny, witty, and…just fun?

sad selfie

Frustrated and sad on the inside.

“Why can’t I just be fun? Why am I so serious all the time?” I say. “Why can’t I be like other people? Goofy, funny, witty, and…just fun?

She asks me, softly to embrace my melancholy instead of frowning upon it and instead of being funny, what makes me a good friend.

I know what makes me a good friend.

For one, I am a good listener. I hold the space for their joy and their sadness. I have an appreciation for everything beautiful in life, even though I can’t see any in mine. I look for the goodness in their hearts and I accept them for who they are. I am there for them when they need me. I care about them. I don’t tell secrets.

And now, writing this, I realize something else–I am the very type of person I wish I had in my own life. I wish I had somebody to rejoice in me rejoice, and delights in my delights. I wish I had somebody to fight for me when I was hurt. I wish my sadness was also their sadness and I wish someone loved and supported me like my life was somehow metaphorically theirs.

This past Saturday night, October 4th, this side of me was put to the test. My life has never been dramatic, but I received a call from a friend I went running with a while back and she was crying. It was 9pm and I was just getting ready for bed early as I planned but I put everything aside and ran out the door to meet with her outside a neighborhood school. As soon as I saw her, she ran into my arms and we embraced and she let the tears flow. I patted her back and told her it was all going to be okay, whatever happened. We ended up talking for an hour as she told me everything going on at home. Her abusive father, much like mine, and her in-denial mother. She talked and I listened and tried to reassure her that she is not what her father’s expectations are. I told her that she was her own person, not the junk that her fathers treats her as. She asked me how I stay so strong and I said, “Hope. And being kind to myself. I can’t change the way they treat me but I don’t have to swallow their poison…

…I spit it back out when they’re gone.”

Because it is true. I have lived an abusive childhood all my life. I knew suffering. I knew what it feels like to be treated like a burden. I knew loneliness. I also knew ravenous rage. I knew the answer was no even before the question came out of my mouth. I knew domestic violence and I knew I wasn’t living my life for myself anymore; I was living my life for them and that pleased them. Above all, I know self-loathing.

But I also knew how to fight, even if I lead me to dangerous extremes, it’s also lead me to my greatest successes. I recognized I didn’t have to take in their abuse and fight back actively. I learned to nodd and let it go and not penetrate my heart and let their painful words sink in. I know what they say is faulty, so I disregard them.

It’s so nice to be that friend. The friend that others run to because you’re the only one they trust ; the only one who they feel safe spilling their hearts to because they will hold you, support you, and talk and listen to you and heal your wounded soul. It’s an honour to be that friend.

That night I realized that although I might not be funny, witty playful like most of my youth out there, I hold a quality that they don’t have. I’m not superficial. I’m real, and sincere.

In the end, my melancholy serves me be a true friend.

athletic banquet

Me, in the center with the cross country/track team at the athletic banquet.

Among your group of friends, who are you? Are you the peacemaker? The jokester? The tag-along? Or do you fee like the wallpaper, like me?

What makes you a fantastic friend, and what do you look for in others?