It doesn’t fail — the month I have a goal to do something is the month that I seem to struggle in that specific thing!
Relationship: In order to build a closer relationship with ladies that strengthen me, I will start up a Book Club and plan four activities by June 30, 2019. (Book: The Gift of Friendship edited by Dawn Camp). Proverbs 18:24
On Dallas Street, where I grew up, there were eight girls, and eleven boys. I gravitated to hanging out with the “big sisters” and so it was that the two girls I considered my best friends got married when I was 8 — I got to be the server at their receptions.
Through junior high and high school, I feel like most of my friendships were short lived. I would do a lot with a group for a few months, and then off to another group. I didn’t hang out in any specific hall in the mornings, but walked around and made conversation with many people. Knowing many people and feeling connected to people are two very different things.
If I’m openly honest, I never felt really close or connected to people. Most of the time I felt like there was the real me, and some kind of invisible umbrella that didn’t let things get in or out for real. The relationships I had were slightly superficial – not for lack of trying. There was just something . . .
A really long story short, I was diagnosed with Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder when I was 22. I read up on my diagnosis — causes, symptoms, ways to help. I took classes that gave me more information and helped me learn how to handle life better. In doing research, suddenly things started to make sense. Things like why I knew how many dashed lines there were in the road from my house to my parent’s house, why I vacuumed three or four times a day, why I struggled to get thoughts out of my head. And, why it was so hard to feel connected to other people.
In order to poke holes that are large enough for me to reach through the invisible barrier I sensed, it takes a lot of effort on my part. Feeling really connected to another person is not something I take lightly. There are still seasons where I fall into bad cycles of depression (like last month) where it is both physically and emotionally harder for me to reach out.
Here is where my amazing tribe steps up!
We have been through a lot together, these people I call my own. In the past year, I have laughed so hard I cried, and cried so hard I laughed. We have faced the passing on of loved ones, new babies, adoptions, changed jobs, addictions, health issues. We have discussed marriages, the struggles and joys of raising kids, and “Plan B” (as well as Plans C, D, E and F). They text me thoughts, we message prayers, they convince me to come to lunch or on a small adventure. Not once have they suggested I am lacking, or not enough. They simply love me where I am.
The barrier feels thinner now. I’m taking the steps I need to recover — intentionally eating better, getting enough sleep, saying no, writing. I feel encouraged and uplifted. I’m strong enough to start giving back again. Friendship is not balancing favors — it’s gluing the broken pieces of each of us into something bigger than we are. John Donne had it right:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
In celebration of those who sustain you, please drop me a line about your friends. How do you lift and support each other? Or a favorite memory. Or a poem, quote, thought about friendship.