Despite being sandwiched by two brothers and a slew of cousins, I had a lonely existence for most of my childhood. Being the only daughter of an absent father, teenaged brothers in wild and crazy mode and a stressed out, unapproachable mother meant, 1) I had no one to confide in and 2) I felt compelled to hold everything, including myself, together. Emotional steadiness and control became my defense.
In the summer of my 16th year I got a job with a youth recreation program. I was a junior counselor to elementary school aged children. Vee was a senior counselor. She was 25. She had a boyfriend, her own apartment and a Chevy Malibu. I thought she was funny and smart.
Her boyfriend was the director of the program and they had a slot opening up for a year round position. She put me up for it and I got it. This meant we were together a lot, usually with kids in tow, but sometimes not. She and the boyfriend were in a bowling league and involved in all kinds of recreational pursuits. Since I had a crappy home life and taking part in recreational activities seem to be a good way to be better at my job, I tagged along. Vee and I got close. She became the sister I'd craved my entire life.
Celebrating at Vee's 26th birthday party, I had too much to drink, which, because I didn't drink, wasn't much at all. Never-the-less, I got drunk. Vee let me hang out at her place until I could drive home safely.
She talked with me. We shared secrets. I began thinking about her all the time. I got scared, very scared. My defenses were being breached. To re-build my shields I ramped up my dating. I'd met a guy that I'd placed in a holding pattern. I allowed him more access to my time. We got married, in the interim he had decided that Vee wasn't the right friend for me. I had decided that he was right. Shield replaced.
It was ten years later, I, married with two young children, when TC came into my life. She was a new hire at the office. She was a fun-loving, free spirited, divorced mother who nagged me daily about going out after work. In spite of our social differences, we did become friends. I resisted and declined her invitations for weeks and weeks. She persisted, saying, "you work so hard, you deserve to have some fun."
TC eventually wore me down. I devised a plan whereby we could go out on a Thursday evening, since the husband who though it wasn't right for mothers of young children to be in bars without their husbands, would be working late. If TC would drive me home, we could go, have a cocktail or two and still beat him home, he would be none the wiser.
Nope. Zombies and I were acquainted that night and I discovered 1. You can't have just one (they're like Lay's that way) and 2. It is nearly impossible to walk and talk after having more than 2 zombies especially when you are a novice like me.
Needless-to-say, I was caught stumbling out of TC's big 'o Buick. Husband, predictably blew several gaskets demanding to know who that guy was. I threw up on his work shoes. Much later, I insisted over and over and over that "it wasn't a guy, that was just TC."
TC called. She even came by to show Husband that She wasn't a He. Husband never really believed. TC and I continued to hang out from time to time, on weekends, during the day and of course we still worked together. The more I saw her, the more I SAW her. Yikes, breach in progress. I allowed Husband to convince me that TC was too much of a party girl and wasn't good for me. Shield replaced.
I engulfed myself with the wants and needs of everyone else, I always had. It seemed the *safer* road to travel. I always did what was needed, what was expected. Notions that had the potential to crack the carefully constructed shield were quickly and completely quashed.
No one but my children were allowed access beyond the shield. There were no more Vee's or TC's and several years after TC, there was no Husband.
Several more years later, I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to go where my head and heart lead.