The Things I Dinna Ken

I’ve finished Outlander, and thinking about moving on to the next book in the series….. but not yet. I need time to breathe. The reading was heavy, and the emotional response even more so. Throughout the entire novel, I saw myself as Claire, the young battlefield nurse that in ancient Scotland is elevated to a physician. She waffles between love for Frank and love for Jamie, but also, how that love defines her, as well.

It weighs on her, thinking that she has betrayed one husband for another, much like I have told you that I did (“they both needed me. They both wanted me. Which one was more important? The gay one or the straight one?”). Radiohead’s Karma Police is playing in my ear as I write this. I didn’t know that they never should have been competing for the same space. How could I know that? Knowing appropriate boundaries with love is a future that didn’t happen. I was wrested away from it before I even knew the definitions of “friend” and “lover,” making them one and the same in my mind for far longer than anyone (especially me) should have had to tolerate.

If there is any justice in the world, it’s that the friends Diane has done this to in ADDITION to me also read this web site, I’m sure with pain and baited breath. You see, because I know them. I have worn their scars on my skin. I have seen the effects of her disaster, and the ripples it has caused in my own pond. I am not close to them now, but I was then. I have seen more than one woman lose her shit over the manipulations Diane has thrown in her direction.

Why I thought I could rise above it is beyond me. The way out was not above, but through. I had to feel an enormous amount of pain at the destruction I’d caused before I could finally say, “enough.” I will paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert, that she doesn’t know of any story of self-redemption that doesn’t start with someone getting tired of their own bullshit. And readers, I am exhausted.

In the past, I haven’t made new friends so much as seduced them into it. Because what could I possibly have to offer anyone but, well? You get the picture. I played with darkness until I realized it was leaving me nothing but a bunch of friends who alternately walked off in disgust or used me until I had no more to give, regardless of what they asked.

Argo is the first friend I’ve ever had that instead of walking away, she whipped my ass. I couldn’t sit for weeks (this is just a metaphor, thankfully). Even while she was doing it, I didn’t think it was undeserved. I was just too proud. I came back at her, claws extended, when what I should have done was thank her for saving me. I looked at everything in a different light after that. Tendrils of new life began to extend from me in a way that I’d never experienced, as if some of my dead places resurrected themselves at her words. I began to see what she meant with her clean, white, pure love, and realized it had always been inside me. I’d just never used it.

But the thing about friendship that broke with Argo is equality. She’s had more time on this planet than I have, and she pulled rank in a big way……. when in friendship, you whip each other‘s asses when necessary. She could not submit to me anymore. She could not listen and hear that I might have a point. Whatever I thought was wrong, sick, and in no way indicative of the friendship where I constantly heard, “you’re right! I never thought of that.” You cannot get a person to hear you when they are convinced that you are wrong before you speak.

I think of it this way. Therapists who work with couples in large age-gap relationships solve this problem by getting the older partner to lay in the younger one’s lap…. to be comforted, parented by them in order to create equality. I don’t know how that extrapolates into friendship, but I do know that the analogy is apt….. maybe not in terms of age, but definitely in terms of balance of power. And, of course, my 25 years with Diane in the same trap convinced me that even when Argo did lay her head in my lap, I wasn’t worthy of it. I remember thinking every time she messaged me out of the blue that it was weird, against the natural order of things. Why would someone seek me out? Why would anyone value my words?

I was such a fool, because she was acting like a true friend, and I dinna ken.


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