Tiffany has been my friend since the 10th grade. It started out as a simple friendship, with few similarities besides our mutual dedication to school and a deep love for shenanigans. We lived the ups and downs of high school together, and by the time we graduated she was my closest friend in all the earth.
We were roommates our Freshman year of college, one of the most difficult years of my life. This was the height of an extremely hard season struggling with my OCD, something I had always managed to conceal from those around me. Now, living in tight quarters, it was all but impossible to hide from her. I did my best to seem like everything was normal, and I somehow convinced myself that I was pulling it off. My habits were far beyond irritating. I never took my turn at cleaning the bathroom. I spent insane amounts of time showering each morning. I ignored my mounding pile of laundry. Avoidance of everything that gnawed at me was the only coping mechanism I knew. The way I acted had to drive her crazy, or at the absolute least, annoy her.
Years later, I found out that my mom had discussed my growing problem with Tiffany before we started our year in the dorm, together. While it seemed like an explanation to how she was able to tolerate my strange behaviors, I realize it's so much more. She knew my deepest, darkest secret. For years, I had struggled with haunting thoughts from OCD. No one knew the extent of it, besides my mom and step dad, who lived the day in and day out beside me. Even then, they didn't understand the emotional load that consumed me. But here was Tiffany, living with the annoying behaviors of a person who couldn't control her own thoughts. Behaviors that affected more than myself. They affected her. She was seeing me and my faults up close, and she never treated me differently than she ever had. She kept from pointing out my faults. More importantly, she didn't look down on me or treat me like I was broken. Tiffany didn't tiptoe around, babying me and treating me as less-than because I had a mental illness. She treated me the same. She treated me like me, her best friend.
I want to give my kids a magical childhood. I want to give them what I had, while making sure they have something different, something better. I want them to know that they are loved and cherished; to look back fondly at the time they were growing up and say beautiful things about the life I made for them.