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Sweater Weather

Positively Speaking

Waterfall cardigans are a wonderful invention of the fashion industry. With long billowy, front tails and a back that extends only to the waistline, they flatter every shape and size. The architecture of the design is such that it can be expressed in all weights of cloth from heavy to light. Again, wonderful. Fabulous. have to do a bathroom dash. Then it’s some kind of scene out of Runaway Bride, with one grabbing and snatching bit and pieces, wrestling with voluminous folds of fabric as fast as you can lest they ….well TMI. Suffice it to say, the design that once flattered, now confounds.

V-necks and crew necks are another matter entirely. Trim and proper, they accent the blouse or shirt with pearls or sporty big necklaces or all on their own. With a round face bequeathed since birth, that never changed shape, V-necks have been my best friends since adolescence.

There is actually only one crew neck in my wardrobe. It’s a navy acrylic blend I bought at JC Penney’s when I was at college. Despite an increase in girth, it still fits and is worn during winter with a smile on my face. At the time, I was dealing with a wool allergy and my comfy blue sweater lay against my neck or skin with no irritation.

Novelty sweaters, on the other hand, are my delight. There are three of them laid away in storage waiting to be recreated by another knitter, having been worn til tattered and soiled beyond repair with designs that still make me feel like I’m wearing a work of art. From years of teaching preschool and working with children who loved the sparkly plastic chips supposed to represent rhinestones, or the sampling of possible knitting stitches in various patterns and colours, they remain favored creations. This may be the year I add to the collection by getting holiday novelty sweaters. Now that they have become “Party like it’s 1999” (well, actually like it’s 1984 with big hair, catch the visual, right?) it would be acceptable to wear them and not look like I had put them on by accident, or had a broken down trailer in the woods somewhere with squirrel cooking on the stove.

When fall comes and my sweaters are put to the top of the pile for wearing, and store racks and mannequins are laden with new versions, the world just seems friendlier.  Yes, that’s it. Sweaters are like friends.

So yes, I do have friends that are with me calling me to higher ground but get a little rattled when I have a crisis. And I have friends that are just good solid, functional friends who are classics and cause no irritation and have been around for years. And I have friends who are the life of the party and remind me not to be so tightly wound as a result of challenges I face in short or long term situations.

Now you might think a friend that is no good in a crisis with me is not a real friend. Well, this being the last of Domestic Violence Awareness month (and Breast Cancer and Lost Child month, all of which have touched my life through my mother’s lost battle with BC and four miscarriages I experienced) and I have become aware that it is time for me to go public big time with my experiences of being abused and how I healed, let me tell you that is not true. A friend who is unfamiliar with crisis can be a help in that they point you to new, more peaceful territory. If they are unfamiliar with what it’s like to be abused, they are a help in embracing ‘not trauma’. Do not discard them.

A bad friend will encourage you to lie, to not tell yourself the truth. A bad friend will lay their stuff on top of you. This is particularly dangerous when they themselves have been abused and chosen not to stand up to it and get free. A bad friend will take you on as a pity project. Ick! Run away! Run away! A bad friend will use you to meet their desires without long term benefit to you.

A good friend will listen and help you think things through but not make the decisions for you. I was once, as I so often did previous to last year, making excuses for someone who was abusing me terribly.

My good, good friend said simply “That man has his s**t all over your boots.” She didn’t argue with me point by point. She didn’t denigrate or discount any of my behaviors I was choosing. She simply stated a fact about him I was not seeing, did not have the capability at the time to see. That’s a good friend. And there have been times I have spoken reflectively into her life as well.  

A good friend will call you on your b******t as well. Gently and with love. They will also point out your strengths that you are not seeing.

A good friend in not co dependent. They don’t take offense against someone just because their friend has an issue. They remain a separate person. When the pity party is going full strength, they will know you well enough to know if it’s best to hold the Kleenex box or say, “C’mon. Time for diversion.” (movie, board game, walk, chocolate decadence).

A good friend knows you. Really knows you. Good friends will have differences of opinion and good friends will talk it out. Good friends understand the time and distance in which you sit at the current moment. Good friendships develop and mature.

Good friends never use each other. They compliment each other.

To all my good friends, thank you. I am very much enjoying getting healed from being abused. I’m still in process. Only a week ago, a good friend said, ‘We’re going to help you learn to not walk on eggshells all the time.”  That’s the final step, learning to blend being a nice, kind person with being assertive on a daily basis. It will be the next step after learning to say, “You can’t do that to me”. A more nuanced way to living I am looking forward to learning.

One last thing. My good friends are always trying to learn and grow and be better people, increase their hearts and minds towards adding good to the world. The best way to have a friend is to be one. Women who escape and heal, not just perpetuate the story in their lives, have good friends.

You know who you are. Thank you.