I'm not really sure if you could call what we have a friendship. I'd say it's more like a long term truce... Kinda like Korea, but without all that barbed wire and watch towers. Sure, we have a history that goes back 23 years, but the relationship had quite a few rough patches before it died hard, leaving not only heartache, but financial ruin for both of us in it's wake. It took many months before we we able to start to try to rebuild some sort of relationship and even at that, it was only on account of her becoming disabled after enduring a brutal assault, and subsequent legal problems that we were able to look past the hurt and mistrust.
Now, almost four years since I first moved out, she has had to move back in with me, and although she feels safe here, she makes no bones about the fact that she'd rather not be here at all. After having been on her own, since she was sixteen years old, she has never had to rely on anyone for her survival, so this cuts to the very core of who she is. I can understand that.
In the three months since she's been here, I've come to realize just how different we have become. The conversations that used to flow so freely between us are infrequent, and at times, somewhat forced and I find myself being careful not say something that will stir up the problems that lie dormant just beneath the surface. We are mentally and emotionally in two different places. There is nothing that passes for affection between us and there is the always present danger that a wrong word will reignite the problems of the past. We may share the same place, but we are not close... Just two people, forced by circumstance, that have to learn to live together.
If you've read this far you might think: “Geez, what a terrible way to live”, but I'll tell you something, there's good to be had in such a situation.
There is a basic courtesy and respect for each others' space and needs as well as a familiarity with working together in order to achieve a common goal. That goal is to see to it that she regains her independence and I am pleased to report that she is well on her way. By doing things on a quid pro quo basis, we are both learning the art of negotiation and compromise and are taking real pains to see to it that things go as smoothly as possible. Patience with each other and our circumstances has become the order of the day while we both settle in to what has become the new normal and what we may lack in mutual affection, we make up for in the determination to make this work.
I have always wanted to believe that civilized and intelligent people should be able to put aside personal differences in order to achieve a common goal and you might say that this is sort of an experiment that I hope will reinforce that belief.
I know that issues will arise and there may be some difficult times ahead, but I am hoping for the best possible outcome. Even though we are no longer best of friends, perhaps being best of enemies will be good enough.