When I left home and went to University, initially one followed by example. After all we are the sum of our own experiences. The first few months living in a large shared house was difficult. I had never lived in such circumstances, so initially shut myself away, adopting those insular traits, so popular with my parents. All the time, I desired the company of others, but due to my awkward personality, I preferred to 'do nothing'
This situation changed rapidly. You can't live in a shared house and not forge friendships. After six months my true self had come out. I was outgoing, forward, inquisitive and in every respect an extrovert. I discovered university life to its fullest. To be perfectly honest, at a time when I should have been working hard and studying, I was concentrating on forging friendships. It was more important to me, since I spent my whole childhood in the main without them. When I look back now I realise how much better I could have done at University, if only my childhood experiences had been different. I lay a lot of blame on my parents and sadly that still remains the case. I do not forgive easily.
My view of friendships is very different to those of other people. Immediately there is a clash of interests and that really sets the scene for the rest of my life, up until now.
If I asked you to define friendship, what would you say? Mutual understanding? Someone to go drinking with? Someone you say Hi to now and again? or something else? Let me tell you my view:
'Friends should have a common bond, listens to everyone's opinions, questions each other, offers advice, argues and forgives, accepts each others faults and expects loyalty in times of adversity and grows stronger everyday.'
I am a person who likes to give. I always have been. It's not about buying friendships, it's about seeing joy in others, when you take just a little time to insure happiness for someone else. In all honesty I have very little to give. I don't have much money and until recently not a lot of time, but what I have I will always give without condition. i have lent money to friends in the past, for obvious reasons, this caused many arguments and loss. I no longer lend, I give. I do not expect money back. If one takes the expectation of return away, then closer bonds will be formed and ultimately it rubs off on them. Now in reality that isn't what happens at all. Sometimes I live in this 'flowers and hearts' kind of world, where everyone is good, love is perfect and friends have the same thoughts and feelings as me.
I still make the same mistakes. I invite people into my life without condition. I do the complete opposite to my parents. My door is open and I am welcoming and giving. I expect nothing, deep down expect something and get hurt very easily. It's an ongoing cause of anguish that people are not what I expected, in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Here lies the story of my life!
I am going to use the last year as an example, as this is the period causing the most problems in my life now and really is an example I should use, look back too and remember in order to change, progress and heal.
My parental family rejected me, without reservation, bluntly and clearly when I was in Hospital during a suicide attempt. The bonds between these people and myself had grown further apart for many years. I went through therapy in order to find possible causes, episodes and triggers that may have been responsible for my current mental health state. Apart from the obvious genetic implications, it was obvious that my family were the main cause for my current position. For that reason I chose to distance myself, but was always afraid of closure. When they issued their final rejection, loud and clear, it became easy to forget and move on. At this point friends really became my family and probably, my expectations became even higher, without even knowing it.
The people I was mixing with over the last year were very clever people. I have never known such a group of manipulative, grotesque and hurtful people in all my life. During my early years on The Southampton gay scene, the word 'FAMILY' was used often. We were a community of people with the same interests and outlook. Many of us had no family, mainly through rejection and we really did look out for one another. It was a fantastic time to be gay, even if the discrimination was huge. The fact we suffered such prejudice bought us closer together, formed lasting bonds and friendships through adversity and common interest. The last crop of gays to use the 'FAMILY' word were nothing but. The only reason they aspired to use a word, that for me is so important was to gain from people. It is my vulnerability, they knew it. After all we had spent a lot of time together. They knew my weaknesses more than me and preyed on them, like a petulant child cries to receive chocolate. I had money removed from my bank account when I was ill, I FORGAVE! I was put in intolerable positions with dubious characters, I FORGAVE! I offered free board and lodging, I WAS USED! I was attacked verbally, phisically, online and in person! I ACCEPTED! I was made to believe the low lives were really victims, I BELIEVED! Most of all, i was told I was to blame for all of these things, I DOUBTED MYSELF!
The last year was the worst of my life, In living memory. The only reason I am here writing this now and not six foot under is because I had that Bipolar relapse. Without it, I feel things would be very different. Ultimately these people were removed from my life, because they had to be. Not through choice. I had no choice. That scares me, because, I still haven't learnt from that. Something that is forced is never ideal, it is a sticking plaster. The only cure for my failures is to meet genuinely real and caring people.
I have hope that I am now beginning to see who the good guys are. When I had the relapse, I lost most people in my life. Those I thought would be there, were not, but as a chink of light breaks through closed curtains, that is changing. I have received some of the most heart warming messages, from people who I would have never expected it from.
I want to include this last message of support I received from a friend, who I only know from a close friendship I had with her brother. It did make me cry last night, just because she did not have to send it, she was not from my close circle of mates and that is what made it special and give me the strength to keep battling on. There are people that care, and that warms my heart, especially now!
Finally I would like to mention Natalee. I have only known this girl for a few months. She is a true battler in every sense of the word. She has paid herself through University, held down four jobs and has a heart of gold. She has been there through my relapse, without exception. She has cooked when I hadn't eaten, she saw the Mania at it worse, she has stayed and chatted for days and most importantly she has told me how it is. No patronising, no false hope, no crap, just the truth. She has this ability, at such a young age to help others at desperate times. Everyone needs someone like Natalee, I was just lucky to be introduced to her.
So it's not all doom and gloom, there is hope. Friendships come and go, I will do anything for those I love. I need to put my guard up more, but above all I am not shallow. I will not give up on friendships because of stupid arguments or misunderstood actions. I am also not afraid to offload those who are bad for me. A lesson learnt and a very important message for the future!