“How can you feel such a connection with someone who’s a complete stranger?” hubby wondered.
Indeed, how can I? It’s an absolutely reasonable question, isn’t it? We were having our morning coffee and as usual sat at opposite ends of the sofa in our dressing gowns and pondering life and the day ahead. I’d had a little piece of magic land in my e-mails, one of my favourite bloggers having reached out and we’ve now connected in real life. Whilst I didn’t have to think about whether it’s magical, I did have to think a little about WHY when hubby floated the question. Hubby isn’t one for blogging, for starters. Secondly he isn’t an alcoholic or addict. So not only doesn’t he quite understand how blogging for me is super important (besides, write is what I do and have always done – come rain OR shine), he also hasn’t been in the position where you are lumbered with something that isn’t all that easy to just go ahead and say. Sure, he has gone through tough times and difficult shit like the next person, but with those things it’s still not been a case of mostly letting it out in an environment completely separate from “the real world” or whatever we should call it.
“If I had a problem, I’d probably confide in one of my closest friends. Your blog world and your tribe as you call them is hard for me to understand, I’m just not in that world” he added.
Yep, indeed. Also a totally reasonable observation. This is what most of us do, right? When we need to open up about something that might be filed in the painful, awkward, embarrassing or generally difficult categories, we might open up to one of our closest, most trusted and perhaps longest standing friends. Trust is built up over time. We start with “what’s your name” most of the time, I suppose. Initially we may learn about the stuff that’s really easy to talk about and what most of us would be quite happy to share with any stranger: favourite food, favourite band and so on. And then you build further and find out more about those people you are drawn to for whatever reason. That’s how “normal” friendships start. We start as strangers and we progress by getting to know more and more about each other.
Take Cherokee – I can tell you her shoe size, the name of the horse she had as a kid, what she likes doing and what jokes will make her laugh. We’ve known each other for 30 years and so beyond this, there is solid trust and a connection that have built up over all those years. We’ve seen each other through the teenage years and broken hearts, becoming adults and wives and mothers, winning big and losing hard. And yes, Cherokee is 100% the friend I went to and felt safe confiding in when it came to my alcoholism. She’s had my back since I had a fucking perm, for crying out loud. My friendship with Cherokee makes perfect sense and it grew in the way that friendships normally do, so me confiding in her would never warrant the question why I feel I can or why there is a connection.
But then it dawned on me why it is that I can already feel (and I’d go as far as to say I know!) that this friendship is one that might last a life time. No, I couldn’t tell you where she went to school and I don’t know her favourite film, nor do I know what books she reads or the name of the first boy (or indeed girl!) who broke her heart. She, in turn, doesn’t know where I grew up or where I went to university. We don’t know any of those things about each other that people might know about someone they’ve only known for a relatively short amount of time. OK, we’ve now seen each others’ faces in photos but we could still probably pass each other in the street and not realise.
These friendships that are formed in this tribe, you see, start at the opposite end. We start by laying ourselves bare and sharing the stuff we in some cases can’t even tell our families and “real life” closest confidantes. It’s a fucking MASSIVE leap of faith to reveal your innermost secrets and hardest struggles. So what I know about her – and she about me – is the really big stuff. It’s like any AA meeting. You say your name but instead of then adding “and I’m from London” you add “and I’m an alcoholic“. It just doesn’t go the same way as it would at a dinner party where you’re chatting for the first time with one of your partner’s work colleagues. So no, I don’t know her favourite song but I know she is a survivor of unspeakable things. I don’t know her birthday but I know how many days she’s been sober.
But that in a way makes sense too, doesn’t it? We’re both blogging about getting sober and the blogosphere is, if you want it to be, an anonymous place. And so for that reason we probably feel safe because we know it doesn’t matter actually. But then there are the Facebook sobriety groups I’m part of. I’m just as open there! And that’s not just “Anna K” which I think is all you can see on this blog, on Facebook it’s my full name and if you click on it you can probably see some of my profile and who I’m friends with. But there we feel safe because in those groups we’re all people who are wanting to get and stay sober. Shit, when I think about it, it’s an enormous exercise in blind trust! But that’s what happens when you share the icky stuff before you get to the basic get-to-know-you conversations. We’ve started with this big thing we’re all fighting and we therefore feel connected and are all in it together.
So I’d take both these ladies to fight my wars with me. Cherokee because she loved me even when I had a perm and she kicks ass (including mine when needed) and my blogging friend because the first thing I learned about her is that she knows how to swing a sword and slay dragons.
The other thing of note that happened over the weekend was that I did finally drop the A-bomb on Mum. I’ve avoided it because I worried it’d make her utterly uncomfortable and upset. Anyway, I’ll share tomorrow – Monday has started off full throttle so I need to wind this up. Oh, it’s nothing bad, I’ve just run out of time that’s all.
Today I’m not going to drink.