If you had asked me three years ago who my good friends were, I really would have had a hard time answering. Of course I could say Mary, my steadfast best friend, but after that, who? Well in truth I would also have said Edi, my neighbour, for even though there is a forty-odd year difference in our ages, she is a kindred spirit; she might be from a different generation but she is about age 19, at heart.
Edi moved to Canada from England and she has this wonderful thick northern accent - she used to call me 'flower' and my kids were always referred to as 'the bairns'. She and her husband Len lived right across the street from us on a quiet little cul-de-sac called Cloverhill Avenue. If you are familiar with Dundas you might know it, it is just over the bridge from the swimming pool, down the street from Edwards Park. Len is wonderful - comfortably clad in his favourite pajama pants, undershirt and slippers, he is most content when either watching soccer on 'the telly' or outside in the back garden watching the blue jays eat the peanuts that he puts out everyday. "Poppa", as he is called, would always make room for my youngest to climb up on the couch beside him while she ate one of the Popsicle treats that Edi keeps stocked in the freezer. Whenever life got too difficult I knew I could pop over for a cup of tea and a biscuit. They were a rock for me.
Edi used to say to me that she just couldn't understand how my husband seemed impervious to guilt trips. She was forever commiserating with me on the horrible state of my home and did her best to try and get him to pick up his tools and tackle at least one of the many jobs that needed doing. I didn't understand it either. Edi assured me that this was totally abnormal in her opinion, that something was very wrong. Wives, in her opinion, should be able to get their husbands to do what needed doing with very little effort. My husband had her stumped.
Well, my husband was a master manipulator and a connoisseur of the many ways to use power and control to his advantage. He couldn't be made to feel guilty about the state of our home, he couldn't be persuaded to pick up his tools out of a sense of loyalty and duty. Nope, he felt no qualms whatsoever about just saying no, and then going fishing. I used to think it was just selfishness but I don't anymore: What it was was abuse.
I remember one time, I had been asking if we could please get rid of this horrible fake wood, plastic looking monstrosity that his mother had gotten rid of and given to him to house our television. It took up one whole wall of our living room and much of the plastic laminate had peeled off and the handles for the cupboards and drawers were all broken. In retrospect he probably loathed it too, but there was no way he was going to admit it. On this particular day he told me that he would only get rid of it if I would get rid of my piano. Well my poor old piano had already taken quite a beating, literally. He had been angry at me one day and so proceeded to smash his fist down on the part that covered the keys, he completely destroyed it and in so doing also damaged many of the keys. From that day on my piano had been a reminder that nothing I had was safe - that because I didn't seem to be valued, how much less were my possessions. I had begun to loathe that dear old piano, but he didn't know that - so I called Edi over...
Once I explained the situation, she was 100 % on board! The two of us attacked that piano with all the pent up frustration that had been simmering on a low boil! Pieces of wood went flying, wires were pinging here and there and when we finally collapsed onto the couch to have a well earned cup of tea, the damage had been well and truly done. We moved the skeletal remains right in front of the big front room window as it was too large for us to get through the door. It was clearly visible from the street and we knew that he would be forced to move it so that he could sit down and watch TV. Sure enough, the piano made it out the door that night but do you think someone kept his side of the bargain and got rid of the hideous monstrosity of a TV unit? Of course not, but it was worth it. It was one of the few times that I felt empowered and that my friends was worth it's weight in gold. So thanks Edi, for all the piano bashing, furniture moving, dreaming, garden planning and laughter - you are a kindred spirit and we're long overdue for another cup of tea. XOXOXO
[Author's note: 1 in Four does not condone "the guilt trip" as a constructive and healthy relationship tool.]by