Feeling the love
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been doing a lot of thinking about things, especially friendship, lately – re-examining some of my own motivations and behaviors, and learning yet more lessons as I go.
The best part about some of the things that have happened lately is that I reached out to people who care about me. I also reached out to a new friend – one of those with whom you have an instant connection. Doing so helped me gain some perspective and to start to get back to myself.
One friend in particular, who has no small amount of challenge to go through, is always there with me, with love and kindness and encouragement. Another one is also always there for me, though in more of a “tough love” manner. The latter gave me an assignment: “Look in the mirror and out loud – keep complimenting yourself. Don’t allow you to say anything mean to you. Keep it all positive. Allow yourself to even be outrageous in your compliments. Go over the top. Why not, you deserve it.”
When I told her that I was not sure I would be able to do that, given how I was feeling, she said: “You are being mean to yourself. No one said it’s easy. Just look at yourself, imagine you landed on a planet where all of your attributes are celebrated and envied. That you are surrounded by adoring subjects that can’t get enough of you. You are just giving voice to what they are saying to you. Go practice it now…I expect to hear a report back that you did this. Homework is to do it for 2 minutes – take a break, then go back and do 2 more minutes. Force yourself to just stare in your eyes (don’t let yourself cry, but to give yourself love and adoration). Be grateful for yourself. I love you. You have much to share. Give yourself some love.”
When I told my other friend that it had been a bit of a challenge lately and I needed some validation (as we all do sometimes, it is just that unfortunately, we usually have to ask for it), she responded with:
“You are amazingly important to the world. You know how in bresheet when humanity is created there is that midrash that asks why Adam was created in THAT exact moment – and the answer is that we each come into the world in the exact moment when the world couldn’t possibly go on without us. Yeah. That…Your general awesomeness, loyalty, fabulousness as a friend . . . I’ll get back to this – there is more. “
But that wasn’t all she said. She went on to tell me she wanted me to list 30 things about me that were awesome, and she gave me the first ten:
1) You are crazy smart
2) You are one of the most loyal people I know
3) You are thoughtful
4) You are adventuresome
5) You don’t give up (even when you want to and can’t get out of bed – eventually, you get your ass out of bed, and I think you should get heaps of credit and a gold star for that).
6) You care about your friends – a lot .
7) You are independent
8) You are opinionated (woo hoo for opinionated – three cheers!)
9) You are committed to making the world a better place
10) You post quotations that make people (me) think (even if it’s just me, you get credit for that . . . and again I’m betting other people think, too . . . although again I’m proofless, I’m afraid, but I do think it’s a good bet)
As I have continued to process things, and talked to another friend and got more perspective, I am so very grateful for the support I have received from these loving women. I was, unfortunately, mired a bit and feeling down because I had put effort into something where in any other circumstance I would have walked away long ago, knowing that the other person did not appreciate me or even want to make any efforts to be friends. This person basically told me that s/he did not want to even bother to be friends with me. And I allowed that – those words from someone from whom I would have walked away long ago, to bother me. I still cannot figure out why. Was it because I was feeling vulnerable, so did not want to feel rejected or more loss?
I long ago determined that, when I experience something negative in my life, to look for the lesson in it. Sometimes it takes a while for the lesson to come out, and sometimes the lesson comes fast. Sometimes the lesson is one I thought I had already learned but I am reminded that I have to pay more attention, be more careful.
So what is the lesson this time? For me, I think it is that compromise in any relationship is important, but compromising yourself to the extent that you become unhappy, when the other person does not compromise at all, is just unhealthy. It leads to dissatisfaction with yourself, with the other person, and with the relationship. Painful as it may be to feel the pain that the loss of your investment into a friendship may bring, it is ultimately better to feel that pain and release it than to continue on with unhappiness gnawing at you. For me it is important that I protect myself, and that I don’t give so much of myself to a person who only takes from me.
There are a couple of quotes I found in the past few days that also made me think. One of them is “A friendship that can cease has never been real” (St. Jerome). People use the word “friend” loosely but if it is so easy for a friendship to die, was it ever really a friendship, or something less than that?
The other one is “Don’t you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness that you are” (Jo Blackwell-Preston).
Perhaps that is the ultimate lesson in all of this. That person did not appreciate me and the “muchness” (to use a friend’s term) that I bring. My muchness comes with imperfections, but so it does for all of us. So as I move forward, I am reminded to surround myself with people who see the greatness, even when I can’t.
Thank you so much to the wonderful friends I have in my life.