Once a quarter three of my friends from grade school get together to celebrate one of our birthdays. Last night was my turn to be celebrated and yet I felt a heavy burden of anxiety heading to dinner with these girls. It’s not that I don’t love them because I love them deeply. And it wasn’t that I don’t feel loved by them because I’ve seen them in action when one of us has taken a hard hit…each woman steps up and does what she can to lessen the other’s burden. So I know that if I ever needed them they would be here in a heartbeat. And it’s not that I fear the conversation would lack because it rarely ever has.
“If I say this will I offend X?
Oh, shit, I just swore and probably put someone off.
Amy, think through each word before you say it. Don’t allow any foul language to slip out.
Amy, don’t ask those questions, that’s part of her life she doesn’t like to share.
I probably shouldn’t mention X, Y, Z because they might think worse of me.
How do I engage when I disagree with what’s being said? Better to say nothing.
Amy, your opinion does not matter. Shhhhhh.
Should I or should I not order a drink? Can I order a second?
And the self talk, self preservation, hiding debate goes on and on and on.”
About 20 minutes in to the dinner I started settling in to the familiarity of these women. The beauty of these friendships. The security that although we may disagree on some very vital issues these are life long friends not easily dismissed by a few foul words, a liberal stance, or the free-spirited person I have become. The desire to just be me became more important than what one may or may not think of me. Because hiding is disingenuine and I’m anything but disingenuous, I decided to share. Be open. Did I still intentionally hide some things…absolutely. It’s a constant battle for me to decide what to filter and what thoughts to let spill freely. I know it’s best not to engage in politics or religion( at least not at quarterly dinners). But I was able to share about dressing up in Vegas for my husband, having a sexy photo shoot, having a family member who is gay and my excitement for him, my struggles with my boys, and honestly sharing funny stories that we can all laugh at even if some are at my expense. I ordered the drink that I wanted and even mentioned that I wish I believed in hell for those people who truly truly deserve a fiery eternity.