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Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Sunday, January 5

In my tribe

Opinions and events depicted in this post are solely those of Tinfoil Magnolia and Ms. Marsha and do not reflect those of her employer, husband, parents or anyone else in her life. These opinions stand as of this day and this moment and are subject to change on a whim. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty, so if you leave a comment we'll all know who you are. Complaints can be sealed in an envelope and burned. Thanks.

In 2013 I saw a side to people that I hadn't seen before. And I didn't like it.

Despite my tendency to be a realist about life in general, I usually give the benefit of the doubt to people who are my friends. People I call friends, and assume call me the same, well, I assume they are genuinely good people underneath everything.

Regardless of political, social or religious views I have always tried to keep friends who I really like and believe are good people. Sometimes friends come from work, or clubs, or common interests that you have. However this year, I've had to reevaluate the meaning of the word friend.

Merriam-Webster defines the word friend as:
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)
1 a :  one attached to another by affection or esteem
b :  acquaintance
2 a :  one that is not hostile
b :  one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3 :  one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4 :  a favored companion

Freedictionary online defines it as:
1. a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty; an intimate
2. an acquaintance or associate
3. an ally in a fight or cause; supporter
4. a fellow member of a party, society, etc
5. a patron or supporter: a friend of the opera.

But what is a friend, really?

I've had a tendency in my life to call most of my acquaintances friends. If I know them, have had discussions with them or spent time with them outside the normal, “hey, how are you,” then I call people a friend. Which does fit one of those definitions, to be sure.

But I think when you call someone friend, people assume a certain level of attachment, loyalty or whatever that you might have with this person. They assume an underlying relationship that isn't always there just because I use the “f” word.

The difference for me was made apparent during the course of 2013. I had an awful year. Awful. And please, don't tell me how yours was worse, how mine couldn't have been THAT bad, how I'm exaggerating, how at least I'm alive and I don't have cancer or flesh eating bacteria so it couldn't have been so awful.

It. Was. Awful. It was a horrible, scary, invasive, mind fucking year that left me sifting through the rubble to find the lesson to take away. And I know people had worse things happen to them and likely I'm being dramatic, but you didn't have to live through the year I had so my point is, don't judge.

My stress level at work was through the roof because I was literally doing the job of 2 people after my editor left in early March. Literally. 100% of the job I already had been doing, and probably at least 75% of his. I can't say I did 100% of his because there were some people who helped out from time to time. But it was rough.

It was a lot of responsibility that was dumped on me with no warning. A job that I felt utterly unqualified and unprepared to do. Every Sunday night for the first month or so I sobbed uncontrollably knowing the stress that was ahead to meet my Tuesday deadine.

I couldn't do the parts of my job that I loved. I didn't have time to write and tell people's stories. I didn't have time to take pictures like I wanted. I had to cut corners, I had to use my time more wisely, I had to spend way more time at the computer and way less in the community.

As a result, I had to listen to complaints. I had to hear what a horrible job I was doing and how I wasn't honoring the community/people's kids/churches/businesses/schools- fill in the blank here- it doesn't matter really. Everyone has their “pet” project that they want to see front and center whether it's actually news or not.

I was blamed for not doing things that hadn't been done in years, it was just an excuse. I was expected to just listen and take it and take responsibility for things that were mostly out of my control. But hearing these complaints week after week, when I was sacrificing my personal life, my well being, my time off, weekends, sleep and sanity for my job. Well, it was hard. And it took a toll. Quickly.

I became snappy and irrational. I stopped listening and began defending, something that I don't really normally do in my life. I didn't have time to chat with people or be friendly or open with anyone. It's not right but that's how it was.

What I did, how I reacted, the way I treated people at times–I know it wasn't right. I know it wasn't the way to gracefully handle things, and for that I am sorry. But I did a job for 8 months that I shouldn't have been asked to do for more than a week or two. I was under a lot of pressure, a lot of stress and a lot of crazy.

The way friends reacted to me...well, that was nothing less than eye opening. Life changing. People who I thought were my friends, who I had been friends with for years, stopped talking to me. I was excluded from activities and get togethers. They didn't text to see if I was doing ok. They didn't ask how they could help, ask if I needed someone to listen, try to make me feel better, or exhibit any forgiveness whatsoever for my “transgressions” i.e. being in a bad mood. Sometimes they snapped back. Sometimes they stopped talking to me completely. Mostly they just stayed away.

I can't say that I blame them. It's fine. But what was eye opening for me was the reaction of three or four “new” friends–people I didn't even know or know well at all before 2013 began. These ladies, along with my husband, kept me holding on to my one thread of sanity. I couldn't have made it without them.

Even when I was mean, even when I was grumpy, even when I was crying and frightened and completely freaked out or dramatic, these women made me smile, laugh, and feel like I had people who were ok with me being crazy because, well, they were crazy and dramatic and freaky too.

They showed up at my house with nothing more in mind than, “let's get drunk.” They listened to my crazy conspiracy theories. (which later turned out to be truth) They let me smoke their cigarettes and drink liquor and cry, yell, rant and rave. 

They told me when they thought I was wrong, and why. They gave me solicited and unsolicited advice. They called and texted me at just the right times, and left me alone when they knew they should. They shared their problems with me, despite what I had going on, which took my focus off my own stresses all the time.

These are girls, with the exception of one, who I hadn't known for much more than a few months. Who I really don't have much more in common with other than geography, a level of crazy that doesn't fit in this town and a love of sarcasm.

I'm not trying to attack my old group, but neither am I going to defend them. It happens. Perhaps they would be better friends to others among the group than they were to me. Maybe it's just because I'm so different from the rest of them, or just some personal dynamics and loyalties that I won't get into. Regardless, it has taught me a very valuable lesson on friendship and the definition of that.

Because of things that happened in 2013, I have changed the way I look at most everything in my life. I know and accept that there is only one person who will always be behind me, that I can count on 100%. Husband always has my back. Everyone else is a bonus.

I have reduced and deleted and blocked people on Facebook who can't seem to handle seeing my personal information. I have made time in my life only for people who I am comfortable showing the real me and I have reduced my circle to people I know can handle me. People who “get” me.

I still use the term friend to refer to someone that I'm friendly with on a personal level, but I will admit I've totally reevaluated how I refer to my “inner circle” because, by definition, they are more than friends.

They are my girls. My people. My tribe. I know that even when I move on, or they move on, I will still have a tribe. A crazy, liberal, smoking and drinking, sarcastic and completely inappropriate-for-being-out-in-real-society kind of tribe.

I love these women. And my husband. And that's all a girl could ask for....honestly.


  1. At the heart of the darkness, I am so glad you found a few rays of light. It is when things get hard that we find real friends, and I'm glad you found a posse who had your back.

  2. I'm sorry that you had such a bad year. I gathered from your FB posts that things were rough at work. I know how that spills over in to the rest of your life.

    I wasn't sorry to see 2013 go either. It was a mixed bag of good & bad for me, but the general feeling I have towards it is it was a hard year.

    I'm looking forward to a better 2014 for both of us.