As an INFJ I have high ideals. Very high ideals. So high I can rarely satisfy them. (This is why I post thrice tonight; consistency and regularity might be better admired, but the guilt that I have not written in so long…)
When I was younger I lived next door to a girl in my class at school and her sister about a year younger. At first I stood on the wall on my patio and peeped over the fence to see their decking, and from there we talked, and I watched them play games. When we were five or six The Gate in the fence between our two gardens was unlocked, and for the next five years we played together every single day.
That was the happiest and safest portion of my childhood, and it laid the foundations of my love for nature, creative instincts, hatred for art but love for writing, acting, directing, sport and music. Those years taught me many important things: from a tolerance of mood and sisterly spats that helps me with my cousins now, moderation, economy, the value of creativity, the danger of overbearing, and modesty. To a huge extent my experiences have shaped my character and taught me how to live with other people (although of recent years I may have–quite wittingly–diverged from old values).
When we were ten my friends moved away to another house in the next parish; we were still in the same class, but it wasn’t the same, and even though we went to one another’s houses at least once a week, friction had begun to chafe.
The next ‘tragedy’ struck when my friend didn’t get into the same secondary school as I. All our lives I’d believed us to be the same in so many respects…I couldn’t face even the possibility that she hadn’t got into the same school. It made no sense.
It rocked me. And it rocked our friendship. Both of us forced to make new friends, separated for the first time since we could remember. I was forced to discover for myself an identity without my friend.
We still met up once a week; for a while we went to tennis lessons together. Then my friend quit, leaving me alone. We tried every day of the week to meet up, but my life grew busier and busier, and I suppose hers did, too.
After two and a half years of this, we’d become almost completely estranged. When we did meet up, perhaps once a month by this time, we didn’t know what to say; we were tied down to common talk about school, which was boring for us both: neither knowing anything of the people or events the other was describing, neither of us could respond with a satisfactory reaction, and what had once been mutual understanding and intimate discussion became awkward and contrived.
After a stressful summer, during which I turned thirteen, I decided to give it one more go. I texted her, asking if she wanted to meet up sometime. No reply. I texted the same again, willing to believe it accidental neglect. She texted back that she’d ‘moved on’.
I sent some nice accepting text saying that was okay, I’d moved on, too. But I hadn’t. It was the opposite. For a while I pined. And I’ve certainly never called anyone my ‘best friend’ since. It is a redundant term in my vocabulary. No one may fill that place because there is no such place to be filled.
I don’t say that out of a broken heart. I say it because that is how it is, now.
They’d hate me more for saying this, but my school friends and I were thrown together by circumstance. All rejected at one time or another by our old friends, we grouped together out of an apparent sameness. When truly we are very different. I cannot talk to my school friends of many of my interests or feelings. Whether that is their shortcoming or mine, I can’t determine. I only know that though I saw less of them last summer than of my Catholic and musician friends, I don’t feel hurt. I prefer to stay away. I don’t want to get hurt—is that it?
What’s different about my music and Catholic friends? They are two entirely different groups of people, and those, too, wholly separate from my school friends. One group consists of a kind of half-superficial, but mutually satisfying friendship, from which I derive my chief social satisfaction. The other group I share a deep emotional relationship with. Deeper than anyone knows—even the other members of the group. And both links are far superior to the comparative indifference (bar the loyalty, because they are so, so loyal, unlike me) I feel for my other friends. When I was melancholy I lied to them, and now I can’t look them full in the face, because none of them have a clue, and none of them want to know.
With the musicians problems don’t come to the fore. We have a camaraderie in knowing one another through music—not school or parties, but music. We simply meet up and play together. And that feels good. We don’t dwell on our problems.
With the Catholics problems are at the forefront of my mind, but amid all these I feel happy as I can feel happy nowhere else. It is a place where my problems are permitted to heal.
When I see the ‘best friend’ now I think of the irony. She has friends, yes. But she is quiet, shy and unconfident in large groups. Inside I’m probably the same myself, but too often that shows itself in the desire to assert myself. The old friend and I are in one class together, in which I sit by a girl whose influence causes me to giggle and banter constantly. I have made friends, rivals, many memories, gained in confidence (probably for the worse, because it’s obvious I’m just succumbing to nervousness), and all this shows itself in that one lesson. Shows itself to the girl who told me she’d moved on. And in defiance I’ve somehow moved on further than she has, it seems. We could’ve ‘moved on’ together; but her pushing me away has caused me to overtake her. Ironic. I could never bear to be behind. I share with few people, but when those people push me away I must remain superior somehow. That’s what I’ve done; few know how much I like dominance.
Was this friendship? Yes. But it wasn’t true ‘best friendship’, though for many years I thought it was. But I wasn’t heartbroken. Hurt, confused, but I survived. Obviously.