The cactus is in town, visiting for the long weekend (It’s Victoria Day weekend in Canada, to match with the current goings on of the British royals). She’s had a softening of sorts since 2015, which saw her transmute from a echinocactus to maybe a Christmas cactus. Quite dramatic. I still expect to be pricked, and I do at least a few times each visit, but she’s so much softer than she used to be, so much more wanting a relationships with me than she has ever wanted before.
But there is still all this history, and I don’t feel like I can ever fully let my guard down with her, even if I can also soften and welcome her bids for a little more closeness.
She’s now 67. She retired in 2015, which maybe helped her review her priorities and focus on trying to relate to me, no matter how much of an anvil sinking her down she’s felt I had been in the past. It’s harder to think your kid is useless once they have a PhD and they’ve produced a grandchild. I mean, I can’t for the life of me keep a clean house or reply to her fucking emails on time, but Gummy. but PhD. (eye roll emoji)
A little over 2 years ago, she and her husband moved to the other side of the country to retire. It’s been good for them, as they live a very comfortable life on Vancouver Island. She’s got a neighbour who is from the same cultural, and linguistic background as she is, and she’s always spoken so highly of her. But tonight, she said that she actually has nothing in common with this person. I took a risk, and asked her who she felt close to in her new group of friends. She struggled to answer, and said a bunch of awkward things like “I’m a loner”, “I don’t like getting together with other women; I only like couples’ activities”, “I have pals, but not really friends”, “the other women in my social group email me when I’m away and want know how my trip is going”.
Ya, that’s fucking hard when your friends ask how things are going.
She unfortunately asked about me, which in both of our minds I’m sure, forced the comparison. I tried to be nonchalant about it, but I’m not much of a liar. I have many close, long term friendships, which mean the world to me. I subscribe to the Mindy Lahiri “best friend is not a person, it’s a tier” philosophy, and recognize there are many tiers in my friendship cake. I mean, friends have been much more important to me than family. My circumstances showed me that friends were safer, kinder, more loving, more available, more able to see me, much less prone to destroying me, more able to share in meaning making that helped me grow and find my way in life.
I’m feeling kind of sad for this woman now. This all powerful woman who could just rip through me and tear my to shreds when I was growing up, because she was so burdened and ashamed of me. I mean, I’ve not seen her as a monster for years now, thanks to the decades of therapy, but I really feel bummed out that she doesn’t get to know how amazing it is to have other women around who you admire, and trust, and love, and who get you on a level no one else does. Boy, did she ever miss out.