Even when friends directly say the words to my face, sometimes I have a hard time believing them.

Even when those friends are gracious enough to write the words down in a held-in-my-own-hand tangible sort of way, I am tempted to doubt their sincerity.

You see, I bring a lot of baggage to a friendship.  Extra drama.  A generous helping of neediness.  And my inherent go-to is to assume that people are kind or people are helpful or people stop by born of a pity, akin to the sort you feel when you hand your dollar bills to the man on the street holding a sign.  Sometimes I am guilty of assuming my friends feel sorry for me and that their “yeses” come from that place.

I’m uncertain why I believe this.

Actually – that is not true.

I know why I believe this.

I’ve been severely betrayed and hurt by many friends, particularly women.  And not just once and not just in the normal woes of relationships that ebb and flow through the changes in distance and situation, but in life-shifting ways that feel more like a soap opera than a regular day to day life of a relatively ordinary family.

I have reason to be suspicious of women.  (Well,  I did have reason.  Not so much anymore I guess.  Is that a silver lining? I can make jokes at my own expense – right?)  At any rate, there was a time that having close friendships with women was tricky.  It felt downright risky, in fact.

I don’t feel that way any longer.  Not mostly.  Not usually.

I hope I never feel that way again, actually.

My current friendships with a handful of women are life-giving now.  They’re highly valuable to me.  Important.  Sustaining.

And I am so thankful.

You really can’t undervalue the role friendships play in recovery.  In day to day living.  In feeling connected and regular and a part of your own life.