Friday, May 31, 2013

The Gender Issue

Before I proceed with this post, I want to start by saying that there are some truly wonderful women in my life.  Some I've known for many years, some are fairly new to me and some I've reconnected with after a long time.  I hope you all know who you are and how much you mean to me.  You ladies are exceptional...that's the key word here as I feel you are the exceptions.

I've had many friendships over the years, but I'm not very good at them.  I hate phones so I won't be calling you.  I live out in the boonies so getting together can be difficult.  I'm child-free while most of the women my age have kids which adds to the difficulty with scheduling, but also greatly changes the dynamic of the relationship.

Email made life a little easier as I could then keep in touch electronically, but I still had to find the ever elusive 'time' to write the email.  Facebook improved things greatly.  Now simply by reading my newsfeed I can keep informed of what's happening in people's lives and by adding to my own profile, they can see what's happening in my life.  A comment or 'like' here and there and we all feel like friends.

But all of that is just background for what this post is really about...gender differences in friendships.  For most of my life, my primary friend group has consisted of women.  Some have been (and continue to be) amazing friends, others have hurt me so badly that they have left me emotionally scarred.

The first one was in elementary school.  We used to see each other every day and suddenly she was 'busy'.  It took me a while to get the hint and she never talked to me again.  I saw her shun another girl the same way a few years later so at least I know I wasn't special.  As an adult I was particularly hurt by four different women in the span of 2 years.  Same situation....just suddenly left me hanging without warning or explanation. 

I understand that there are different types of friendships and that they come and go, but I really cared about these women and would have put them all in the category of 'besties'.  And when I asked what had happened in the hopes of making amends for whatever transgression I had committed, three of the four completely ignored me and the other sent me a vicious response that pretty much told me I should have known what she was thinking and that I wasn't worthy of her friendship.

All in all I boil each of these 'break ups' down to stereotypical female traits.  Women can be absolute bitches with the gossiping, back-stabbing, passive-aggressive behaviour.  They'll act like everything is peachy between you and then tell someone else that you're a bitch.  They hold grudges and can be vindictive.  I say 'they', but I know that I carry these traits inside me as well.  I try to suppress them because I hate them so much, but every once in a while they poke through.  On those occasions I try to acknowledge them, beat them back and make amends.

This is the reason that more often over the years I have turned to men for friendship rather than women.  That has its own set of issues, but I much prefer stereotypical male traits over stereotypical female traits.  That Y chromosome makes a really big difference.  Men tend to be more laid back, they don't gossip and don't hold grudges.  If you piss a guy off he tells you immediately and to your face.  You work it out and you move on.  Next day he probably couldn't tell you what he was mad about - it's over and forgotten.  It's just easier to be friends with men.

I generally don't even consider women for new friendships anymore (although some have gratefully still found their way into my life).  I have a hard time trusting women given my past experiences.  Even with my best female friendships there is a little niggling at the back of my mind wondering when and how they're going to break my heart.

My definition of a friend is someone I care about and who cares about me.  When I let myself care it happens quickly and intensely, sometimes without me even realizing that I've let you in.  If you care about someone you should be able to tell them when you're upset and why.  They can't read your mind and if they don't know what they did, then how can they fix it?  If it can't be fixed, the very least you can do is let them know that the friendship is ending and why.  To disappear and leave someone wondering what happened is just mean.

I surmise that some of my lost friendships relate to my views and how vocal I can be about them.  It's called passion and it's a trait that I quite like about myself so it isn't something I'm willing to change.  If that's the reason we can't be friends then I'm better off without you.  On the other hand, if you can disagree with my views and still be friends then you are exactly what I'm looking for.

Having said all that, I feel the need to add that men looking for anything other than platonic friendship need not apply. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If I Believed I Had a Soul, It Would be Made of Music

A friend recently sent me some information on a little known trait called Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (aka Highly Sensitive Person).  I scored very high on the Self Test (various statements with which you agree or disagree) implying that I, along with 20%-30% of the general population, have this trait.  There was one statement on the test that struck me at the time and sticks with me still:  I am deeply moved by the arts or music.

I have always been moved by music - both emotionally and physically.  If it has a beat, not only can I dance to it, but I must.  These days we're surrounded by people listening to mp3 players and yet most of them are sitting or standing still.  I've never understood that.  If I hear music I am compelled to move...anything from tapping my hand or foot all the way to dancing around the room.  I have even been known to break into dance in the middle of the mall.  So yes, I am deeply physically moved by music.

Then there's the emotional.  First off there's the lyrics - I listen closely to lyrics and they often speak to me.  I get wrapped up in the words and find how they relate to my life...past, present, future.  Sometimes it's just a line or a theme or, on occasion, an entire song might touch me profoundly.  In high school I used to write poetry.  I mostly wrote for fun, but sometimes I wrote to help myself work through personal issues.  Lyrics are just poetry set to music.

Then there's the melody and tempo.  This is the part that can affect my mood without me even realizing it.  I have to be careful when I'm driving because a fast and/or angry song can cause me to begin driving more aggressively while during a peaceful song I might find myself under the speed limit.

The genre isn't particularly important to me.  I can enjoy just about everything from Bluegrass to Grunge to Classical.  It all depends on my mood.  But certain instruments reach me more than others. 
The cello is by far my favourite - the sound is rich and exquisite. 
      The Cello Song - (Bach is back with 7 more cellos) - ThePianoGuys

Next is the piano - it has such range and diversity.  There was a boy with whom I went to elementary school who was an extremely talented piano player at such a young age.  He would sometimes play a song during assemblies and, even being so young myself, it would often bring me to tears.
      Für Elise (Piano version)

Third is the acoustic guitar - I grew up with my father listening to Bluegrass guitar records (generally really early and loudly on Saturday mornings!) and I hated it at the time, but I guess it just stuck with me.  I like the 'scratchiness' of it.  In the right hands it's just lovely.
      Paul McCartney - Blackbird [Live Acoustic] [High Quality]

So yes, I am deeply emotionally moved by music. It stirs me.  It touches me.  It makes me feel.  Indeed if I believed in souls, mine would definitely be made of music.

(The arts move me too, but that's a story for another day.)

First Love

Picture it....Southern Ontario, early 1980's, grade 3 morning English class.  The desks were set up in groups of four.  I have no memory whatsoever of who sat across from me, but I'll never ever forget the boy sitting next to me.  He was cute with his curly red hair and freckles.  He was smart and funny, kind and caring, quite shy and loved animals.  We became friends and would spend every recess together by the fence talking about....well...whatever 8 year olds talk about.  I specifically remember him telling me about his of them had lost an eye in a fight.

I had a lot of crushes on various boys throughout my childhood.  I don't remember ever going through a 'boys are icky' phase.  I was always drawn to them.  Some were cute and some were funny and some were didn't take much to catch my eye, but it was always very short lived.  As much as the boys intrigued me, they were still boys and would inevitably do something stupid and that would be the end of that.

The boy sitting next to me was never a crush.  I fell hopelessly, madly, completely in love with that boy.  The only 'stupid' thing he did was not love me back, although I forgave him for that. 

I made no secret of my love.  I was feeling so much and I wanted to share it with the world.  Over the next four years I sent him notes and poems, I followed him around, I watched him play marbles at recess and cheered every time he won.  When his picture was in the paper I cut it out and stuck it to my bedroom wall.  I joined the chess club because he did.  I like chess, but I've never been any good at it.  I'm just not good at games involving long term strategizing - I don't have the patience for it.  On several occasions I have actually been beaten in only three moves - it doesn't sound possible, but that's just how bad I am at chess.  But that didn't matter.  All that mattered was that I got to spend more time with that boy.

So in essence, I became his stalker.  I made no physical advances, but I was always there watching him with puppy dog eyes.  I'm sure every single kid in that school knew and I didn't care.  Thinking back on it, I feel really bad about my behaviour.  I'm betting that my attention probably got him teased a lot by the other boys.  As mentioned above, young boys tend to do stupid things and they can be quite mean.  If I ever saw that boy again, the first thing I would do would be to apologize.  It breaks my heart to think that I could have ever caused him to suffer in any way.

Our friendship pretty much ended when I made my feelings for him known.  He was never mean, but he just kind of drifted away from me.  That might have happened regardless since we were heading towards an age where boy/girl friendships weren't really the norm.  Boys were friends with boys and girls were friends with girls and when mixing did happen, it had nothing to do with friendship.  But still, every year on my birthday that boy would make a point of approaching me and talking to me.  Just a little basic chit chat and then he would wish me a happy birthday and walk away.  It was the best gift I could have gotten. 

It's been thirty years since I first fell in love with that boy and I'm still in love with him today.  I know I always will be because I loved him for all the right reasons - he was truly worthy of my love.  I think of him often.  I've even searched the internet for him with no luck.  I wonder where life took him and whether he's happy.  I hope he is.