The Slightly Bald Teacher
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Musings of a 50+ Teacher
The reaction from a close couple of fellow parents was wonderful, loving and heart felt but still I still stay in my car rather than inadvertently bump into someone I know.
Friendship -What's the point, it only ends in ….
A few days ago, the word to spark our writing was resilience.
It's a trait that I struggle with. Why stick at something when your rewards can be somewhat lacking. Settle for an easy life, whilst avoiding the rejection of the world.
My closest friend---------------------->
This ties in, like a jigsaw piece, with my attitude to friendship. Why put in the effort when the payback can be intrinsically poor. This a ridiculous way to think. I know! I have two friends who I have known over forty years and who I have shared every high and low imaginable in our normal lives; marriage, births, first love, O-levels, A-levels, degrees, financial ruin and even murder. How then can I say that I struggle with friendship?
My friend in Devon, Kevin, I know, ran away from life six years ago and he says I'm the worse person for keeping in touch with people in the known Universe and probably beyond. If I can avoid a phone call. All the Better.
My friend Phil will randomly tell people, at the age of 52, that I'm exclusively his best friend. He is a heavy drinker! But still, I see no worth in my friendship. Not friendship but my ability to be a friend and to be wanted as a friend. I see no worth in my own role as a friend.
I've only ever voiced this a few times but it feels cathartic to get this onto paper. It makes it real.
The reaction from a close couple of fellow parents was wonderful, loving and heart felt but still I still stay in my car rather than inadvertantly bump into someone I know.
So, where did this all begin? As I lay here on my analysts couch, I can pin point a number of moments that led to me having been social distancing for a large part of my life. Two, outgoing, gregarious, popular older brothers didn't help. They were twins and loved, admired, fantasised over by all and sundry. I was also a twin and my sister became a sensitive young soul, who cared deeply and is a lovely person. On the other hand I became a person who never saw himself as good enough. Don't get me wrong. I loved my brothers. They were my heroes. They took me everywhere, provided two further homes for me (they were 14 years older) gave me time and lent me their dirty magazines. What more can a boy want. But I never felt good enough. Not for my family, for my friends. The reaction from a close couple of fellow parents was wonderful, when I voiced this; loving and heart felt, but still I still stay in my car rather than inadvertently bump into someone I know.
And as for GIRLfriends; don't et me started. Treat 'em mean , keep 'em keen was a mantra I followed. I did love them and want their respect, friendship but there was always this fear. Fear that I would get hurt. I would run off at the merest suggestion of reciprocated /love. That was until I got my heart broken. But that comes later.
I have spent years wandering why I feared this so much. I can think of a few things after my brothers influences but my mind goes back to a chilly Sunday morning back in April 1981. It was my 13 birthday and after the initial bonhomie and congratulations for my sister and I, my mind turned to the main event of the day. The Under 14 County Cup Final. I thanked y parents for my present, but I wanted to be gone. Off to glory.
I went out to the corner of the street , kit in hand, and waited. I was due to be picked up by a friends parents and taken off to a local village where the final was taking place. I must have looked a forlorn figure as time progressed. My newly teenage heart, lay heavy in my chest. In these days before mobiles, there was little I could do. My father rushed me out but the venue was miles away . I turned up but it was too late. Now this may seem minor in the scheme of things but to a teenage, football obsessive boy it was the end of the world. So if friends could treat you this way, why bother?
Now there are many other moments I could probably latch on that hardened this view, but I don't want to spiral in to pit of despair too much. There have been wonderful moments of friendship in my life. Moments in time, that I will treasure for the rest of my wife. For instance, I had to have 2 best men at my wedding. The poem one of them wrote was both hilarious and heart-wrenching and summed up friendship. The rough with the smooth When one of the two lost his sister at the hands of a callous killer, it was me he turned to. He travelled half the length of the country to join me at Uni to help heal those wounds that cannot be healed.
There are moments stood on beaches, drenched on sports fields, drunk in night clubs that forged these friendships. And a Portuguese Dad I have recently become friends with, has hugged me more than my mum has in the last 40 years. (That's another issue). He is a wonderful soul, who I feel totally comfortable with but I still hold back. And there lies the problem. As my wife said recently, you need to learn to love yourself first. Because friendship is love. ( My wife read part of this and took my hand and said "I'll be your friend.) I am getting better but as a 51 year old man it's hard to admit you'd like more friends. Real men don't do that. But hopefully I am not that sort of man.
So I feel its time to bring this first effort to a conclusion and also address the one dimension of friendship that I have found and I am tentatively starteing to embrace. Virtual friendships. The word seems a total contradiction. But If I struggle with friendship, why not try something new? After a week of self isolating I realise that the years of self isolation I have been practicing need to end. An this , my friends, is the first small step towards this.