Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mantra for June: Make Time for Friends

Gee, this is only half a month late.

June's mantra is: Make Time for Friends.

As I saw this month approaching and this mantra on my magazine clip-out, I smugly thought, "Pppshaw! I have a traveling husband and 5 kids, 2 of whom are 'challenging.' I so have an excuse to blow off this mantra!"

Yet I was wrong. Now more than ever do I need my friends.

* * * *

What's the saying about how, when the going gets tough, you find out who your real friends are? (Please note that I am dreadful at recalling colloquialisms, anecdotes, jokes and limericks.)

Wording aside, the saying is true.

The past 6-9 months have been some of my hardest ever, and I learned pretty quickly about those who will be there for me and those who were gone like the wind. (I'm not going to go into those who just disappeared when things going messy here in our home, because this is going to be a positive post about friends.)

I am so honored and blessed to have such a core group of friends who rally around me, providing me with the love, support and encouragement I need.

I even have some awesome friends who are willing to take my kids for me---some or all, and they don't mind which, lol!

Several in this group are women who have traumatized children like mine; whose families are going through the same growing pains of adjustment. These women intimately know the stresses I go through, and I can share my angst with them. They also have awesome senses of humor, and we can laugh about things that most others would probably find. . . distasteful or very disrespectful to our families. But we know it's not such; it's just that when things get really bad, sometimes you just gotta find something to laugh about.

And I then I have a few other friends, who while they are not parents of adoptive children, they are so loving and caring and intuitive, that they just "get" it. Becky is my go-to friend who always listens, never judges, and somehow has the ability to get to the heart of the matter in a few mere moments. Anne Marie doesn't have children and lives 4 hours away, yet when I talk to her, she is always able to put things into a new frame of reference for me, often allowing me to look at a situation with refreshed eyes and heart.

And then there's the world of blogging friends.

Seriously, how did any woman ever get through the pre-and post-adoption journeys without their blogging friends?!?

I have learned a crazy amount from women who are genuine and honest and take the time to share their experiences. Many times someone will leave me a comment which gives me the boost I need to help turn my sinking ship-day around and make things better. I try to do the same for others, because I know how much it helps me.

The coolest thing is that in the months ahead, I get to meet some of these awesome women who have been my support network. Geralyn, Corey, Amy: so excited to meet all of you!

When things are tough, days can sometimes be really long and dark. I have always been one to pull in and shut the world out.

If you are like that, can I just tell you to please, Stop. Take the mantra seriously. Create a core group of rock solid friends for yourself. Your group doesn't need to be Facebook friend cache big. One or two good friends will significantly improve your existence.

It's taken a long time, but my life became so much better when I stopped digging my dark little hidey hole and began seeking out others. And yours will, too.


geralyn said...

Oh you are a wise and articulate woman. Your words have rolled through my head all day. Your sentiments are so true. Friends of all kinds, make life bearable, fun, interesting and all kinds of adjectives.

I love seeing my name on your kinda makes me feel famous!

bbbunch said...

Awww! I feel so blessed to have you in my life :) You just made my night lovey!


ania said...

If you choose not to post this, no worries, okay?

For many reasons and in many ways, your situation is different from the one that I reference for myself. Yours is more complicated (Understatement). But some of the reactions by others? I've been there.

Please know that I am not excusing willful 'bad-friend' behaviour, but am wondering if any of the distance is due to some of the circumstances below.

It is nice and important to have friends who "get" you. It's good to have the support of people who have the skill-set and willingness to work to "get" things that they never knew would come up in your relationship. But it's true that anyone of us, as the friend, can find ourselves falling short of this to some extent.

In my own life, there are things that have happened that not all of my friends get or are able to comprehend.

Some are tactful, gracious, and try to be understanding even if they can't be empathetic.

Some have to sort through personal reactions that are about them, and not about me.

Some people don't know what to say, and so don't say anything at all.

Some people say things that I wish they hadn't.

Some people were triggered, and decided that they needed to hunker down to protect their own sensibilities. (A - sometimes they are aware of this, B- sometimes they are not, C - sometimes I am aware of this, D - sometimes I am not. I find things most difficult when B and C coincide)

But most of the people who I count as my friends are doing what they can, given what they know, given what they perceive, and given their personal background.

Most of the people I count as my friends don't do or say things with the intention of being harmful or ignorant.

Not all of my friendships are equal.

A few of the people I count as my friends are SuperStars who ROCK! LIKE! THIS! in almost any situation.

There are some who....shine in very specific areas, or who have been able to shine in the past.

Some friends are better equipped for some seasons than others.

You've expressed guilty feelings and self-recriminations. Having friends who don't "get it" can seem to contribute to these things. (By the way, having read through this heart-twisting journey, I feel sad that these critical thoughts beat you up that way.) And I'm sure that there are some friends/acquaintances who, with this "new" situation, are not reacting the way you would expect or hope. Who knew? Probably neither of you. Because you have never dealt with this before and they've never before been friends with you as you deal with this.

We're going to feel how we feel about the reactions that people have. Whether we decide to continue a relationship the way that we always have (or at all) I just think that reflecting on the complex reasons that a person behaves as they do can help us get through some things more healthily (despair, bitterness, betrayal, abandonment. Anger?)

I have great respect for all that you've done and continue to do. I hope that as an 'outsider' (to your life as well as to the adoption/kids/wife scenario), I haven't come across as someone who thinks she knows-it-all. My whole purpose in this long ol' comment is to let you know the conclusions I came to when I dealt with reactions (kind of) similar to the ones that you face. I felt more peaceful when I thought things through this way.

As for the people who, after fair consideration, proved to be not the sort I would have as friends? Well, the drifting apart was likely mutually beneficial.

Take care.

ania said...

It did come through, hah.

A correction, I intended to say that I find things most difficult when B and D coincide, as in, "neither of us is aware that they are in self-protective mode".

Thanks, Sarah.