I had a rather awkward encounter with your wife recently.
I saw her from a distance, and hoped to avoid encountering her. It seems it was inevitable. In fact, the only real surprise is that it doesn't happen more often.
Your wife and I exchanged pleasantries as we both thought to ourselves, "This is awkward; how quickly can I get away?"
Outwardly, you have the perfect life.
People envy what you have – the material wealth, the beautiful home, the perfect family.
You're one of my favorite friends, and have been for years.
(Platonic friends, of course … I need to clarify that fact for those who are reading.)
I already know I'll hear from people saying men and women can't be friends, blah, blah, blah … but the fact is, we are friends.
Once upon a time, I witnessed a display of bad public behavior by your wife and she's hated me ever since. I think, in truth, she hates having embarrassed herself in front of me. I'm an annoying reminder of how badly she behaved. She sees me and she cringes. She treats me coldly.
I'll be honest, I don't like her much either.
Your wife wins the award for being The Biggest Bitch On Earth difficult.
It's hard to warm up to difficult.
But in truth, there's more behind my dislike of her than the manner she treats me. I don't like your wife because I saw that horrible scene incident of extremely public bad behavior, and plenty of subsequent examples of her trashing everyone she knows poor character too.
I would never say that to you, of course. I will always be polite and cordial to her. I go out of my way to be polite to her because you are my friend and she is your wife and I owe you (not her) that respect.
Although my recent encounter with her was brief, it left me thinking, pondering, for a long time.
I thought about all the things I know about you, about your life – things your own wife doesn't know. For one, I know we're close friends. As far as she's concerned, we're not much more than acquaintances. We both know how much she dislikes me, so you never mention me to her. And in truth, there's no reason to. Likewise, when I do happen to encounter her (which is rare), I don't tell her I know what the latest is with her kids/vacations/career.
Why poke the bear, after all?
I suppose a lot of people have friends who they talk to more freely than they do with their own spouse.
(You know, a friend you can get together with, share bad and/or good news with over an occasional lunch, and just feel comfortable with minus the complexities of a romantic relationship.)
How many people have secret friends though?
Maybe a lot of people do, for one reason or another ….
I know how much you love your kids, I know you would do anything for them – including stay in a difficult marriage. You've told me you haven't been a perfect spouse any more than she has been. (Is there such a thing?) I know some of the ups and downs you've gone through with your career, with your friends, and with your family life.
I know a lot and yet, I suppose, I know nothing at all.
I don't know what it's like to live with so many secrets. I don't know what it's like to have to hide things (like simple, casual, platonic friendships) "by omission" from your significant other. I don't know what it feels like to be striving so hard to keep up appearances.
I know you're a good person, a decent human being, a person with virtues and, yes, faults.
I understand you ….
Like a person understands any friend they've had for many years.
I know you're doing the best you can in a less than perfect world.
And so, maybe I do know what it's like.
Life is far from perfect for all of us.
We all do the best we can.
Each of us lives in our own, less than perfect, world.
© Twenty Four At Heart