Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

You’ll Never Know

on November 19, 2012

I’m not very good at interpersonal relationships. They’re based on a lot of small stuff that I simply don’t understand and can’t comprehend. Need a friend to turn to because your boyfriend locked you out of the house, held a knife to the baby’s throat, and you aren’t sure what to do now that the police have taken him away? I’m your woman. Just want someone to sit with you and watch the sun set? I’ll give it a go, but expect me to be confused and uncomfortable the whole time.

People need friends like me, and I’m happy to fulfill that role. I’m still in my comfort zone when it’s 3am and I’ve just climbed your fence a few times because I’m trying to work out if you’ve choked to death on your own vomit in the kitchen. Someone else would be frantic with stress and anxiety at that point, but I’m just irritated that you didn’t answer the door and slightly worried about my high heels slipping on the fence palings in the dark. When it’s 3am and I’m coming for you, I won’t bother stopping to find better shoes.

My skill is to see light in the darkness, and I’m fairly good at lighting a candle if we have nothing else to see by. I freely hand those candles to the people who need them, and the only thing I ask in return is that they don’t blow out the flame. I stand there and watch as people walk from this cold place of darkness back to their warm brightness, and I rejoice that they have come through this problem and survived.

But me? I’m still out there.

I never learned how to come in from the cold. Occasionally I stumble back inside, and my bewilderment drives me out again. I know how to be happy when I am surrounded by chaos and destruction. Without a problem that needs to be solved, I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. I turn into that awkward person who doesn’t know what to do with their hands, constantly fidgeting and never relaxing. It overwhelms me, and I retreat back to the mayhem where I feel the safest.

The friends that matter most to me are the ones who are able to leave their door open and let the warmth pour out. They keep a light in the window so that I know where to find them. But, most importantly, when I go missing for a few years they track me down to bring me back inside. They remind me that there is nothing wrong with being out in the cold, because someone has to be watching out there, and reassure me that they’re keeping things warm for when I’m ready to come in. They are never offended when I can’t follow them back, and I know they’ll try again in a few months.

Sometimes I wonder if those friends know how much they mean to me, but I doubt it; telling them is one of those interpersonal skills that I’m not very good at.

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