August 23. The idea of relationships has been on my mind and heart for a good bit of time now. Because I believe it is the one thing as humans (besides the insides of our bodies) that we have in common.
We all interact with other people in some way. Even the most extreme recluse, has parents, gets food and clothing from a source, earns a living somehow.
Relationships are part of the human experience. And they vary in type and closeness. We have the most intimate people, our partners, our family, closest friends that make up the inner circle.
We go out from there with acquaintances, co-workers and neighbors, then even further out, people we see at the gym, the grocery story or post office.
What’s interesting is how as we go through life this changes. When we are young we attach ourselves to friends at school, people on our teams and our neighborhood pose. These are our people and we believe we will be best friends forever. That we will follow each other to college and never lose touch.
As we age it becomes abundantly clear this isn’t the case. In a way this is a big one on the list of life’s disappointments. Nothing happens right.
There isn’t a fight or some type of betrayal, we just move on in different directions. There are glimmers of the old days when we come together at weddings, or reunions or run into someone at a party,
You are starting your new adult life. Maybe you have moved. Maybe you are dating or have gotten married. You have a job you love with new people. The nostalgia of remembering those good old days returns over Christmas dinner or on summer vacations. And you wonder, what ever happened to your best friend that lived next door.
Of course some relationships do withstand the test of time. Heck, I married my high school sweetheart so there’s that. Some women stay close with those girl friends and they grow old together rocking on porches drinking lemonade talking about the kids and planning their next adventure.
My point is we all have relationships.
Even the most introverted person who truly enjoys their own company has relationships and that means making and effort with them. If we want to live and love well with others it takes effort. And obviously the closer you are with someone or the more important the relationship the more you will want things to be healthy, mutually respectful and happy.
Enter addiction, who’s main goal is to take over your whole life, ruin everything and eviscerate all of your relationships. Fill you with shame, guilt and lies making it almost impossible for you to be loved consistently.
The miracle of recovery is we get to rebuild ourselves. We get to forgive and be forgiven. However, so often the damage cuts deep. There are wounds that no matter what you do, are still gaping and won’t heal.
And sadly, sometimes there are relationships that need to end. They are so damaged, so toxic that even years of counseling can’t fix. But as a therapist, a married woman of twenty three years, and having lived sober for nineteen, I believe that is the exception.
I have seen women come out of the pits of despair so broken, so hurt it didn’t seem possible but they did it. They worked on themselves to change everything, to build emotional sobriety, to develop the confidence to stand up for themselves in their relationships because they are valuable.
There is hope in doing the work.
If you are sitting in a pool of your own despair right now, if you would prefer to crawl into a cave and live on your own I get it. You are certainly not alone and maybe you need to hang out in that place for a minute. But don’t stay long because the miracle will happen for you when you put one foot in front of the other, when you recognize your part in the story and begin to soften your heart.
Healing is hard. It takes effort and intention and change. And frankly, most people won’t do it. But you will. You can rebuild relationships that need restoring. You can heal past hurts and you can start new friendships. Because as humans we were created to connect. To live in community with others.
So don’t write off people to become a homesteader just yet. Give it a chance. Reach out. Find the right guide to walk along side you as you do it.
I know that’s what I have done. Not once but many times because I don’t like the discomfort that comes from disconnection. From lack of community and from isolation.
I have also learned who isn’t for me (that one’s harder). And have started to let go of people who just aren’t serving me right now, or perhaps they would be more comfortable someplace else.
Today I am not in the business of fitting in or soothing people as they come along side of me on this path I call life. I remain in service to my family and to a God of my understanding who I believe never leaves me.
I will show up open and exposed, the most authentic self I can be so others know they are not alone and they belong.