When a frenemy is disguised as a friend

I’ve written quite a bit about my husband, mom and my sister being my best friends. And it’s true. I’ve never really had a “lifelong bestie” that so many people talk about. I was in my twenties when I thought I had finally found my BFF. Boy, was I wrong about that. But, in order to tell you that painful betrayal, I need to explain why making and keeping friends wasn’t easy for me as a kid. Buckle up, this is a long one. It will probably be a 3 or 4 parter.

Growing up the child of a career Marine meant moving. A lot. And moving meant new friends. I never had any problems making friends. I was excessively chatty as a kid, so I’d just barge right in full steam ahead. I know now that my talkativeness was really just anxiety. I had to fill in the silence. I couldn’t just be. So, my problem wasn’t making friends, it was keeping them. Moving away from childhood friends nowadays doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in touch. Thanks to the email, cell phones and social media, you can keep up with every person you’ve ever met and their friends too. But, it wasn’t that easy in the olden days. Well, I’m not THAT old. Just a little middle aged.

Anyway, the point is, I was not good at staying in touch. I’d have a best friend, or a group of best friends and we would swear that we would call and write each other. Then, I’d get to the new school, make new friends, have new activities and before I knew it, it’d been a month since I had talked to my old best friends. Remember, long distant phone calls used to cost money and as much as I love to write, my good intentions of writing letters just never actually happened. So I went through childhood making, and then saying goodbye, to my best friends. I’m not complaining. I loved being a military brat. My parents made sure that we got to see and do things that the majority of kids never did. But, I’ll admit to a twinge of jealousy when my husband talks about friends that he’s had since preschool. That’s such a foreign idea to me.

We moved to Texas in 1981 when my dad retired. It was a whole different world. We moved to a tiny rural town, where, to steal a line from a Nora Roberts book, the people knew each other from birth to earth. Seriously. New students were a novelty. It was 100 percent different from going to school on base. It was hard. I was going into 10th grade. My sister was a senior….imagine that! I made some friends, but not really “lifelong” friends. I never felt like I fit in. I did meet my first husband in that high school though. We got married at 17. No, I wasn’t pregnant. I was in a hurry to grow up, move away and become an adult. Part of me wishes I could slap that young Susie. But, I actually wouldn’t change a thing. Because if I didn’t travel the exact road that I did, I wouldn’t have my kids, grands or my husband now.

Anyway, back to friendship. I made quite a few “couple friends” when I was married to Ronnie. Most, or really all, were other young parents. We got married in August of 83. I had Johnnie in February of 85. Jennie came along in December of 87. We were a cozy little family of 4. Susie and Ronnie and Jennie and Johnnie. Our friends were parents of our kids’ friends. Really, everyone we hung out with was involved in a peewee football association. Remember, I live in Texas where football is treated like a religion, even for 1st graders! Ronnie coached, Johnnie played, Jennie was a cheerleader and I was on the board of directors. Our weeknights revolved around practices, quick dinners and homework. Our weekends were all about games, working concessions or gates and the Saturday night parties. Those parties involved the kids playing outside and the parents relaxing and rehashing the games. There was also a LOT of alcohol consumed.

Remember that Ronnie and I got married at 17? We grew up together. And we didn’t really like each other all that much. We divorced in 1998. And, anytime a couple divorces, custody of certain friendships inevitably goes to one spouse or the other. Very seldom both.

To be continued…….

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