Monday, June 8, 2009

I love you, man!

I have a friend who is an addiction counsellor. A really good one. He heads up a national addiction support group called CAST Canada. He counsels addicts and he trains the professionals that counsel the addicts and he's learned this because he knows how they feel. He's been there - he's an addict too. What set him straight was what he calls countless "I love you sandwiches." Hey, listen man, I love you but you're screwing up royally. You're abusing yourself and we don't like what drugs do to you. But, we still love you.

I learned this while working as editor-in-chief of a community newspaper. It was an afternoon of revelations. The intent was to learn about his journey and what got him to a place where he could understand himself, his addiction, and in turn, others' addictions. And while I haven't talked to him in what seems like ages, his message always stuck and it made me realize that I've had people deliver that same "I love you sandwich" to me.

In my life, I've been lucky to call three people best friend - my Scottish best friend, my adolescent best friend and my high school best friend. I wish there were other names that I could use that would adequately describe what they mean to me. Where is the rule that you can have only one best friend? I'm happy that I choose not to fit that rule. Otherwise, I'd be missing three different servings of these sandwiches.

The first set of "I love you sandwiches" was served piping hot to me when I was visiting my Scottish best friend. I was busy feeling sorry for myself and my lot in life to realize that it was up to me to make the best life possible, not my parents and their version of who I should be. At 16, my friend liked me for me, for my quirkiness, my sense of humour, not to mention my incredible great taste in friends. Seriously, she taught me that I should love myself because if I didn't then I was showing her that she was a liar and that she was stupid for holding me in such high regard. She delivered another one the night before my wedding - again piping hot - that I was marrying for the wrong reason. This one she delivered a little gentler. It was my wedding day, after all. Two years and a divorce later and I heard her message loud and clear. That I was too good to accept second best.

This past weekend, I was delivered two sandwiches by my two here-and-now best friends. These girls each have their own stash of dirt on me, and those secrets will go to their grave with them (much to the disappointment of my man). They also know the person I am and that's why they both sat me down and told me that they were worried about me. Now, I'm not saying that I've booked the train to the funny farm. Normally, I'm a well-adjusted person, but like everyone, I've got my demons. Mine comes in the matriarchal form and can be evidenced in one of last month's posts. It's a demon that I've struggled with all my life and it's not an easy demon to eradicate. It's had years to set up shop. What is ironic is that the "I love you sandwiches" came on the same weekend, by two separate people. These are people who love me for all of my foibles. They see my true essence and know that even though I might not share their opinion of me 100 per cent of the time, they tell me time and time again that in their eyes, I don't come up short.

Sure, I may piss them off. I'm notoriously vague on my arrival time. They know if I say I'll be there in half-an-hour, they can tack on 5 to 15 minutes. I'm anal about grammar and people using non-word words. I also tend to put others' needs and wants above my own and lose myself and my needs in the process. These are my issues and they tease me because they love me, foibles and all.

This past weekend, I was scheduled to dance my ass off for a girls' night/birthday party. I hadn't been out dancing in what seemed like years. And, how I love to dance! Two hours before heading out, however, I was debating on whether to go. I was nervous about putting myself out there, extra weight and warts, to dance among the beautiful people. Younger, more svelte beautiful people. Okay, so I don't have warts, but I have the extra weight and for that I am more than a bit self-conscious. I'm also angry at myself for letting me get to the point where I feel self-conscious. Best friends Mags and Anasatan (names have been changed to protect what Mags describes as the innocents - ha!) both said, in their own words, get over yourself and get out there. So what if you've gained a few extra pounds. Pick yourself up, shave those legs and get on your dancing shoes. The fun will follow. And follow it did. Sure, I felt a little out of place but once I closed my eyes and started to move, the insecurities and Margaret's voice faded away. I was again the Dancing Queen. For four hours.

It's now two days later and I'm still on a high. I went out. I saw, I danced and I conquered, and I have the best three best friends one could ever find. My physical self is still there. That will change over time, with exercise and eating healthy, but my mental state is in a different realm, a realm that can only be reached if I listen to my heart and hold myself in the same high regard as my three kemosabes do. I must be smart if I chose them as my friends.


  1. Hell yeah you're a smart cookie for chosing them as your friends. I - for some wackadoodle reason - don't have any unrelated females I can turn to. There's only my mother or my sisters. It's great they are there, but sometimes one wants to bounce things off of someone on the outside. You know what I mean?

    Brilliant post, by the way. Great read.

  2. Hey Akilah,

    I know exactly what you mean about having an outside outlet apart from your family for another perspective. However, sometimes I wish that my family would play that role too.

    The grass is always greener, isn't it? But I still wouldn't change my friendships with my yentas.