How do you know old friends will accept you after you’ve changed?

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The older I get, the more me I am. The more me I am, the more I need people in my life who allow me the freedom to be that person. As I grow and change, I am less and less able to let people into my space who don’t really ‘see’ me. It’s too much work, I’m too hard to hide. I am proud of who I am becoming, of who I am these days. Hiding that is difficult and in the end, I find it unnecessary. It’s unnecessary because I am extremely blessed to have people in my life who are true friends.

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself- and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to — letting a person be what he really is.” ~ Jim Morrison

The Tribe

I believe that if you are lucky enough in life to have someone who can see you for you, peel back your layers, and then gaze lovingly on your essence, then you are truly blessed. Not every person in your life is going to meet that criteria, there are always going to be people in your life who just know you on the surface, and I think these people add value, each in their own way, but it’s the people with the deeper view into who I am that really make my tribe special.

My BFF

I have written before about my BFF, who is also my life-partner. Sometimes she sees me even before I see me. That’s an accomplishment and sometimes a freakin’ pain in the ass too because she’s my mirror and I am not always ready to see what she does, (even though I know it’s probably true!) When I left my husband, it was to her house I retreated. When I left Colombia last week, it was to her house I raced. No questions asked, no commentary, no conditions, just “Let me know your flight details and I’ll pick you up.”

She and I were both raised in a similar religious background. We were married and divorced in the same 5 year-ish period of time. Our journeys to our older more wise selves started around the same time, but have, of course, taken different paths to get to the same point- a practical relationship model of consensual non-monogamy. But even if we were different in every way, she would allow me to be me. One of her favorite sayings is, “You good? Yes? OK, I’m great.” With her, I always have the freedom to be not just the me I present to everyone, but the real me from deep inside.

Back Home Again

I haven’t lived in the US in over five years, but I have plans to meet a few old girlfriends (carefully distanced) once my quarantine is over. I have changed, changed A LOT in the past five years. How will I be me with these people? Can I show them who I really am? Will they be the kind of friends who SEE me? Who accept me for who I am, a polyamorous, kinky, adventurous gypsy?

I often think about the price of being seen. In order to be seen, one must reveal themselves. But how do you know it is safe to show your true self? How can you be sure the people you are interacting with, becoming friends with, reacquainting yourself with, have the potential to see you and accept you for who you are?

Berlin

I think it was easier when I was in Berlin. All the friends I made were new friends. No one had any preconceived notions about who I am, no one knew who I was. I prefer to live very authentically, to be me no matter what. I find it very difficult to try to pretend to be something I am not. Heck, I find it difficult to not talk about the things I AM, let alone pretending to be someone I am not. So, as I was making friends, I just didn’t try to act any particular way, I was just me. I projected the persona of me above all else, and that allowed me to make friends that accepted me for who I am right off the bat.

New Old Friends

How will it go now that I am back in a place where people knew me “before?” Before I was married before I was divorced before I became a world traveler before I freed myself of the restraints of evangelical purity culture and became a polyamorous, kinky, sex-positive person? I like to think I have always surrounded myself with people who would accept me no matter what. But I know that’s not true. In order to be accepted and move in the church circles I moved in during those years, I had always had to deny those parts of me I “discovered” after I left my husband and embarked on this journey.

My gut tells me that the people who have made the effort to stay in touch over the years of my absence can be trusted with my true self. I am willing to put out the feelers and speak my truth in small doses to test the waters. I am in my original “home” but I am no longer the woman who lived here, and I don’t wish to become her ever again. To me, showing my true colors, putting myself out there, is worth the risk.

It is too much work to deny myself to the world. I want the freedom to mention Stefan and Said in the same sentence. The freedom to discuss topics like trans rights or black lives matter without censoring my voice. This is who I am now. It is important to me. If they are my friends, (if you are my friend) then they will accept me for who I am in whatever place I am in at that moment, and allow me the freedom to grow and change over time… and I will do the same for them!

How have you handled people in your life who might be “friends,” but don’t really see you or accept you?

Written by

World traveler, memoir writer, lover of all things relationship- especially non-traditional! www.elbyrnewriter.com Follow me on Twitter: @ELByrne1

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