Confession time: I’m “that” girl, the one that dropped all her friends the moment she got a new boyfriend. When I fell, I fell hard, and nothing mattered to me but that I wanted to spend all my time with the new love of my life, oftentimes to the (near) exclusion of everyone else in my life. As I am also one of those women that has seldom been without a lover, either male or female, it’s usually meant that my closest friends have almost always been my lovers, boyfriends, Dominants or husbands. I have friends, and did then as well, but they have always been secondary in my life – at times a far, far secondary. I’ve socialized, attending parties and get-togethers, I’ve gone to birthday parties and weddings and out to dinners and the like, but my world – and my identity – has always been deeply and inextricably tied to whomever I was in relationship with. My world revolved around them. Hell, my world was them and their happiness.
I can blame being a submissive, or my excessive need for acceptance and to please, or my fear of rejection…the list goes on. Whatever the reason, whatever the excuses, that was me.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel that my life…lacked…anything. It made perfect sense to me that my world should revolve around my partner. My ex was my best friend. He and our children made up my social circle, except for my younger sister, at least until my sister moved across the country and he and I discovered BDSM. Then, suddenly, we had a new circle of friends and activities – but still, given the choice to go out and socialize or stay home with him, I always chose the latter. And I can count on one hand the number of times I went out with friends on my own in all the years we were married. Then, when Warren came along and he, Adam and I became a three, I never felt the need for anyone else, either. Yes, we attended events and did dinners and had parties, but again, my preferred state was either with one or the other or both of them.
I understand now that a driving force behind this was some degree of introversion and social anxiety, but at the time I didn’t feel there was anything…wrong…with how I lived. It was my natural state. Until this past year happened. It was while W was in the hospital, and after he died, that I realized I had friends, my own circle of friends, that wanted not only to help, but to be my friends. It was only after I started to come out of that devastation that I realized how much my friends meant to me – and maybe, me to them.
At first I felt guilty for enjoying their company. How could I be happy with them, how could I laugh and be silly and have fun? Wasn’t I still sad about W? I also hesitated to ask anyone out, to lunch or drinks or dinner or for a walk or just to spend time together. I didn’t know how to, and I’d been so needy, my grief and despair swallowing everything up, that I was afraid of asking too much. I was afraid of being pitied, and of being rejected. Of being “found out” – that I wasn’t as interesting or as wonderful as they had thought. Of letting them down, because I was damn bad at this friends thing.
I don’t know if I’m any better at it now. I still feel anxiety in social situations, even ones I know I want to be a part of. And I still worry that I’ll be discovered as the imposter I am sure I am. But I’ve discovered something in the last six months or so: I’m okay with that. At least, I’m okay with putting myself out there, my self on the line, opening myself up to the potential of rejection. I’m realizing that it won’t kill me, and learning to deal with it is a huge step forward. But more than that, I’m realizing I want to be a better friend. I want to have more than just my relationships with my men: I want to have, nurture and cultivate my own friendships. I want to spend time doing the things I enjoy; whether or not I have the company of my men – or even of my friends or family. I can be alone, I can do things alone, and I can enjoy doing them. (Or so I tell myself. I’ve only spent a handful of nights alone, and have yet to go to an event alone, so in reality? It’s all experimentation thus far.) But I’m moving in that direction, and finding a sense of self, of identity, that I never knew was there.
I was me: me-attached-to-whomever.
Now I am me: me-attached-to-ME.
And I kind of like it.