Guest Blog from JoJo

April 27, 2012 § 24 Comments

With many thanks to JoJo for this guest blog which, as with all guest blogs, is completely unedited by me:-

Friendship is precious.  I have had many friends over the years, childhood friends, school friends, work friends.  Friends I have made through my children and all the schools they have been to, and friends I have had during my 22 year marriage.  Many of these friends span the decades.  We all went through the same things together over more than half a lifetime.  We all dated,  got engaged,  got married,  had kids, and went through the ups and downs of life.  Our kids all grew up together, some couples got divorced and some re-married.  Most, I am pleased to say, have remained happily married throughout the decades, and they are blessed.  I guess that you could say statistically we have gone through all the normal things that normal people of our age go through. 

Some friends came into my life for a period of time, and for a season.   They passed through, moved on, and so did I….. almost like chapters of a book.  Many of my friendships have spanned the decades, and I treasure these the most because they are my lifelong friends.  But I don’t underestimate the friendships that only lasted for a shorter period of time rather than a lifetime.  Sometimes these intense friendships are as meaningful as the long-lasting friendships.  There is always something to be learnt, loving and loosing is all a part of the rich tapestry of life.  I have gained wisdom and insight from every single person I have met, and who has crossed my path and entered my life story…. at whatever stage.  I will always treasure and remember those friends who came into my life, and then left me for whatever reason.  I know that one day we will meet again.

The hardest thing about becoming single and getting divorced has been that though many of my ‘coupley’ friends have remained my friends, I simply no longer belong in their world…. I just don’t seem to fit the ‘mould’ anymore.  Their world of happy ‘coupledom’ is so very different to my life now.  Over the last 6 years, perhaps I have changed, become more independent and self-sufficient.  To begin with, I tried very hard to involve them in my new ‘single’ status by inviting them over for this and that, but after a few years it seemed like they were loosing interest, and I was fighting a losing battle.  I haven’t given up on them, as giving up on friends who I love, and with whom I have been through so much and known for so long is not on my agenda.  I don’t believe in giving up on people full-stop.  It is just that sometimes I feel as though I have been side-lined.

Oh, and then there are the ‘fair-weather’ friends.  People who stick by you and are chummy when all is well and good.  They are quite happy to share the joys, the sunshine, and celebrate the good times, but when the going gets tough, and when the storms of life come along, they are nowhere to be seen.   They seem to disappear in a puff of smoke.  Oh, and believe me, life is full of storms,  the tiny ones and the humungous ones.  It maybe a small ‘storm-in-a-tea-cup’,  but it can be a major, thunderous and life-changing storm that turns your whole life upside-down.  True friends are the ones who stick by you no matter what, and who are there for you during these storms, and who don’t abandon you.  Friendship isn’t necessarily about who you have known the longest,  but who came into your life, and never left your side during the good but especially the bad times.

Having said that, I have some friends who I have known for many many years, but because of distance, busy life-styles, families, commitments etc we don’t see each other as regularly as we would like.  When we do eventually see each other, it doesn’t matter if it was months since we last saw one another, or even years, we are always able to pick up from where we last left off.  This is a mark of a true and deep friendship, as it seems to defy even time itself, no matter how long has passed.  Ageless, timeless, and forever friends.

I have to say that most of the friendships throughout my life have always been same-sex ones.  I have had very few male friends over the years.  Maybe because I went to an ‘all-girl’ school, and then ‘all-girl’ Secretarial college, followed by marriage and children.  Therefore, friends from then on were women with children of a similar age to mine.  My ex-husband always said that he didn’t believe it possible for a man and a woman to be ‘just friends’….. and that there was no such thing as ‘platonic friendship’ between a man and a woman.  How wrong he was, and how deceived and blinkered I was too.  I am now blessed with many female friends, but also a few male ones too, and I really cherish them.  It is always good to see and hear things from a ‘male’ perspective,  I really value their opinions, and thoughts on life.

It is strange that even though I dated my ex-husband for 4 years, and was married to him for 22 years, I hardly knew him.  The ‘friendship’ element was totally lacking in our relationship, and I guess you could say we lacked ‘intimacy’.  I wish with all my heart that it could have been different.  How I yearned for ‘closeness’, and a connection with him that just was never there.  It was for this reason that sadly after many years of loneliness within my marriage we parted ways.  He is now very happily re-married to someone who is far more suited to him, and I am happy for him.  Well all appears good, happy and rosy anyway.

You can walk down a street and look at all the houses lined neatly along the road and wonder who lives in them, and what goes on?  Some houses look so cosy, warm and homely from the outside, with their pretty front gardens,  welcoming doors and windows.  We always assume that living therein are happy couples, with happy little families…..but do not be deceived.  The reality is, that in these houses are real people, living their own storms of life, whether it be relationship breakdown, illness, bereavement, troublesome teens etc etc.  To everyone on the outside, my house and my life looked like yet another happy, cosy home, but what went on within those four walls was another matter.  What looked like a ‘happy ever after’ life and marriage, was in reality lonely and cold.  My love for my children was what kept me going, and that is why I stayed. 

As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover, good looks, frontage and veneer can be quite deceiving, and what lies underneath can be a very different story.  A person can put on a wonderful facade of perfection, righteousness, smooth talk and charm….. they may seem to be a fine, up-right model citizen.  But sometimes beneath the mask that everyone sees,  hides someone or something much darker…. unresolved anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiven grievances, a cold heart, and uncalled for judgement of other people.   You can see a person, a friend even,  appearing all smiles,  and it seems like they have got everything all together in their life and all is in order….. love, happiness, success, self-satisfaction,  but if you dig deep enough, their life is anything but.  Theirs too is a mask that they wear, and they don’t want to lift or remove it because the truth and the harsh reality is hard to bare……. deep unhappiness, or dis-satisfaction with life, hurt, rejection, loss, loneliness.  It is easier to hide behind a mask.

What you see is not always what you get.  You think you know someone, but do you?  What happens when the mask comes off?  You think that from the outside of a house, all looks happy and rosy, but is it?  It is all down to  appearances, and how people want to present themselves.  The reality of people’s lives, is very often different to what they want you to think or believe.  How does all this relate to friendship?  Well some friends are real, and some are not.  They put on a mask or act out a charade of friendliness, when the truth is, the chords of friendship are not strong,  and they do not run deep. What appears to be real and deep, is actually very shallow.  When troubles come these people who you thought were your friends are nowhere to be seen.  Sadly they are fickle and false.

So let’s get real….. take off the masks we are wearing, and take a look beyond the facade of other peoples lives, and how they present themselves.  First of all, let’s be true to ourselves,  then we can be true to others.  Then we need to love the people who God put’s into our lives, whether or not they are there for a season, or there for a lifetime, they are there for a reason.  Truth, open hearts, honesty, respect, care and love for one another are what count, no matter what our age is, or what stage in our life we are at.  

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§ 24 Responses to Guest Blog from JoJo

  • What a brilliant post…..so true JoJo 🙂

  • Lydia says:

    Well yes… “and the greatest of these is love” etc BUT people need to be careful not to get involved with those who are unreliable or who will hurt them so I wouldn’t go round loving everyone. Be sensible about it. The drug addict next door who is down on his luck might not be the best person to be welcoming into your home etc.

    What interested me about the post above was I am the exact opposite. I have lots of male friends who I am or have been close to and not just sexually and virtually no women. May be that’s why I’m not lonely being single as there are all those men out there looking as much for intimacy and conversation as much as for sex. If you are a woman person then it’s probably harder to find that.

    Anyway I have released one wonderful widower on London (nice but not right for me in a material way); I won’t see the clever man I saw for a second time this week (his velvet jacket inter very much alia was not the the reason.. I don’t feel attracted to him). One yesterday I couldn’t stand the accent .. bad me. The class differences were just too big. Dinner tonight… well he has a disablity and I doubt I can get over that but we’ll see. I’ve never known a year like it,. May be you turn 50 and suddenly masses of men are attracted to you… So anyone posting on here still a measily 40 has it all to come. Just wait and then have fun.

    • Penny says:

      Lydia, I wonder why you havent got any women friends? I dont know anyone who hasnt got women friends. I can’t imagine not having female friends, I would miss the fun conversations. I do have male friends too, and its great to have their views on life. But no women friends? maybe its because women are so competitive, not all, but a lot are competitive, and jealous, but hey thats life. I too like mens company, but a bit of each is great! Also my men friends, we are just friends, nothing else and never will be, intimacy doesnt come into it.

      • Lydia says:

        Yes, it’s a fascinting issue. Some men too only have women friends they are close to. Other women (probably most) are very close to female friends and not to men.

        I don’t know why some of us fall into one category or the other. It doesn’t bother me and I am sure it does not bother women whose close friends are female that that is their own preference and others are different. I have interestingly found that I tend to be close to men who similarly are not close to men and prefer women. I find those men very easy to talk to. I just don’t seem to have been able to feel so close to women.

        I have fun conversations with men. I don’t think the nature of the conversations are different and I am not saying every man I am close to is someone I sleep with either, far from it.

        Perhaps it’s genetic

    • joseyjo says:

      I love my female friends, we are like a sister-hood, and we all understand each other. We as women all go through similar things, so we are sympathetic with one another and have great empathy. I think my husband didn’t encourage me to have any male friends at all because it suited him. He was very controlling. Now I am single, I have quite a few male friends (platonic!) I agree with you Lydia, and I would never open up my heart and my home to ‘anyone’!!

  • mel says:

    An excellent post JoJo, so much I relate to in your words. After my 28 year marriage ended in divorce, a marriage which to outsiders looked so perfect (and at times was..), many friends opened up to me about the reality of their own lives. One memorable comment “But yours was THE perfect marriage so how could I ever tell you how bad mine was?” She’s still married. And still a friend.

    • joseyjo says:

      Thank you for your comment Mel. To everyone else, my life seemed perfect…..4 children, detached house, successful husband, but it was far from perfect, and I was deeply unhappy, and very lonely being married to a controlling and difficult man. I am far happier, and less lonely now I am divorced, as I am free to come and go as I please, and have a wide circuit of lovely friends 🙂

  • mel says:

    I had all that too, the 4-wheel drive, big house, the kids etc….. but now I have to agree joseyjo…….life IS good after being in a controlling marriage for so long, even though I am much poorer financially.
    To be free is the most wonderful feeling – but sometimes these days, I do feel lonely! Can’t have it all!!

    • Lydia says:

      Let’s also remember that plenty of women can earn their own huge cars and big houses and keep their own families and pay school fees in 2012. Divorce does not mean poverty or having to find another man to live on his earnings. Women earn their own money.

      • EmGee says:

        “Let’s also remember that very few people can earn their own huge cars and big houses and keep their own families and pay school fees in 2012… ”

        Fixed that for you.

  • EmGee says:

    Count me as another to be much happier out of a controlling marriage. When I married, I didn’t realize what I was getting into; pre marriage, I had a mix of friends, but post marriage, I suddenly found out my friends didn’t fit his criteria, and they all eventually fell away to be substituted by his friends.
    Eventually his alcohol & drug use, and erratic behavior, caused them to fall away too, so then I found myself quite alone and friendless, until I found an Al-Anon group. It changed my way of thinking, but getting my life back was much harder work. I had become a very fearful individual, unable to take the slightest chance. To be honest it wasn’t until he was gone that I could completely let go of the trap I had let myself get into, and venture out, re-acquainting myself with some old friends, and making new ones.

    Like other posters before me, I am much poorer now (but free!), and it certainly hinders my ability to socialize, but when I do have a bit extra to spend, I like nothing more than to spend it out with friends.

    Excellent post JoJo, and I think it drives the point home, that if one is to find and keep a companion long term, one already needs to have a solid circle of friends, acquaintances and interests, so one doesn’t become dependent on one other person for fulfillment.

    Granted, it won’t guarantee that a Plankton will find ‘The One’, but it won’t matter nearly as much if (s)he does or doesn’t, either. There is nothing worse than falling into the trap of, “I could be happy, if only….”

  • june says:

    A lovely post JoJo with so much truth in it. I guess as ive always been single and have been used to people being in couples its easier for me wto have friends with partners, but it wasnt always so,in my youth when people got married at a much younger age than they tend to do now, i didnt have many friends, once they were coupled up, we drfited apart, The one i would have kept moved away cause of her husbands job, but strange thing is they retired back to this area and as you say it can happen, we just same as we were then, in fact our friendship is better than when we were at school , where we first met. Nearly all my other friends come i have to say from work, the company i worked for 20 odd years, and i went there to work because my only other coupled up friend worked there.I always found work an easy place to make friends, perhaps cause i saw people every day i got used to them more and am not into instant friendships. Even now any new friends i make seem to be friends of friends or neighbours of mine, like my fellow plankton next in nearby flat..Of course the fact that nowadays coupled up women go out so much more without partners, helps if you are a plankton.

    Like you i never had men friends, just didnt, do many women of my age group.or is just younger women who do, although a younger friend of mine who does have them, keeps it hidden from her partner.

  • Lizzie says:

    Couldn’t agree more with this post and so many of the comments from my Plankton friends! The controlling marriage; being spoken ‘at’ not ‘to’; no feelings of being an equal partnership; the feeling of having ‘to get my life back’ after it ended, which goes much deeper than it sounds; the shock and amazement from everyone who thought it was rosey; recovering from feelings of inadequacy; stamping out feelings of a ‘stigma’ attached to being the ex; he now happily remarried with another child where everything looks rosey.

    BUT the fact that I am happy to be friendly with his currect wife, the fact that I have two great children (21 and 23), and I have an abundant circle of wonderful friends and interests, DOES mean that it really doesn’t matter as much as it could do whether I find ‘the one’ or not.

    It’s just that there is a teeny weeny inkling of a feeling that ……….it would………..be nice…………

    • EmGee says:

      It *is* nice to have that special someone, so no one give up!

      At the risk of sounding repetitive, I am just convinced that we’re more attractive to others if we are happy and confident in other areas of our lives.

      • june says:

        Nice to think that true EmGee, but i have seemed happy and confident in other areas of my life for years, and i never met that special someone or anyone remotely like that. The only thing i didnt like was where i ;liv ed and i moved to a place i like very much and am happy in 3 years ago, and still love evades me. Either i live in part of uk where there are no eligible men,available or i am just not attractive to men.

      • Margaux says:

        Absolutely right EmGee – confidence and positivity is so much more attractive than misery and negativity!

  • Twinkletoes says:

    Excellent piece, Jojo!

    I’m another one who got away from a possessive, controlling man who was charm-personified in public, especially where other women were concerned, and especially with a few pints inside him. “Oh, you’re so lucky”, these women would say to me, as they eyed me up and down enviously. Little did they know that he was Jekyl and Hyde, and would change the moment we got into the car, for me (the non-drinker) to drive us home.

    I wish I’d gone to Al-Anon, but never quite managed to work out how to go to the meetings without him wanting to know where I was going, with whom, etc etc.

    So another vote for poor but happy.

    He re-married quite quickly and, from what I hear on the grapevine, is making her unhappy even now, many years later.

  • Steve says:

    The more I read on here, the more posts that appear, the more I wonder if we’re better off on our own. Sure, there are days when I wish I had someone special in my life, but if the pay off is risking a controlling relationship, or giving up a comfortable life, I have to ask if it’s worth the risk.

  • DAN says:

    JOJO WHAT A POST !

    So down to earth and told from the heart .

    BRILLIANT AND TRUE.

    It obviously took a lot of thought and time to prepare.

    It i think will relate to every single person on the face of this earth !

    WELL DONE !

    Keep them coming .

    Dan.

  • lulu says:

    JoJo, what a great post. Thank you. I am going through the same thing myself at the moment – trying to have the courage to really see behind people’s masks, be it family, old friends, work colleagues etc, and to tune in to what’s really going on with them behind the words. And I have come to the sad conclusion that so many people in my life, past and present, were all talk and that, deep down, we have very little real connection. This is particularly sad with certain family members.
    As I am trying to show up more honestly and congruently in my own life, I am requiring the same of others, and what I am learning often saddens me. I am having to let go of the ‘illusion of friendship’ that I had towards certain people and see it for what it really is. This has involved much heartache for me over the past two or so years.
    I am learning who in my life is real, and who is truly there for me through the good and the bad.
    Looking honestly at one’s life is a painful process but as you rightly point out it is only by being true to ourselves that we can ever be true to others.

    • june says:

      So true lulu and as you say it can be family members not just friends.

      I am an only child and have two cousins on my mums side, i hardly know my dads family, when we were kids were close, they were like the big sisters i never had, but now especially since i moved only 30 miles, but it could be australia, i rarely see or hear of them, one i havent spoken to for 2 years at least,the other the one i was closest too i rang her last week, wish i hadnt bothered we seemed to have little to say to each other, shes on fb but its only me who contacts on there. Strange thing is i have an old friend who retired back to our home town,where they live, we had lost touch for ages, but now she regularly visits me here, and invites me to hers, and its like weve never been apart. Also another friend who i met when i started work at my old company, she now lives 200 miles away,isee her maybe once twice a year, have standing invite to visit,and we are still close,i know shes there for me, we text, email. ring, A friend here i have dragged back from the brink, when her partner left,he came back, but now at times she seems quite indifferent to me, and can be quite hurtful but says she cares, somehow i cant see it, if you care you are not hurtful to those you say you c are about.

      As you say you have to be true to yourself otherwise how can you be true to other people, sadly lots of people are not true to themselves,thats the problem, they cant face their own reality.

  • Margaux says:

    Another ‘like’ from me Jo Jo ( to use the vernacular of the day:-) ).A lovely post.

    I have a real pick n mix of friends – male /female/younger/older/gay/straight. I am wary of the all- consuming relationship where friends are relegated to the sidelines. I see so much of that: woman meets man – disappears – then reappears looking for company when it’s over.

    Or man meets woman and is then hived off by the new girlfriend who is suspicious of any other single women in their lives.
    Or man gets jealous of woman’s friends and expects to be the centre of her world.

    If you want friends to be there when it’s over then you have to remember to nurture them when you are coupled up too.

    Also – I don’t understand women who say they have no female friends. In my experience these women are the competitive ones who think that male company is in some way superior to female company. What’s that about?

    • EmGee says:

      Re: “confidence and positivity…”
      Thanks Margaux. 🙂

      Also your comment above is spot on. I think we need to stop keeping score when it comes to our friends. Some we will have forever, some will be a ray of sunshine in our lives then disappear, some will be male, some female, and the whole mix will constantly be changing. Just cherish the friends you have today.

      I too have seen the phenomenon of the disappearing friend, when they get into a relationship. A little bit of breaking away is to be expected, but when she immerses herself in him, it is a bad sign – she has just gone from the support of her friends to the support of someone else, then when she’s exhausted him, she comes back to exhaust her friends again. I don’t know the answer, except to try not to be that person myself; ie, be more self sufficient and less dependent on others for fulfillment of any kind.

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