Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Value of Friendship

"A loyal friend laughs at your jokes when they're not so good, and sympathizes with your problems when they're not so bad." ~Arnold H. Glasgow

One of my goals for 2009 was to make a new friend. I realize that this may not seem like a big deal to many people, but for me, it's huge. Really, really huge. I'm a super-private person and I'm not particularly good at talking about myself in general. I'm much better at listening, which is probably why I'm the go-to person for my friends/family when they have something going on, and probably also why my chosen career involves listening for a living.

Anyhow, my point here is that I did make a new friend. It seems so funny to be able to say that (and perhaps a bit lame, too), but it's been incredibly nice and strangely liberating to be the one talking for a change. And it's not like I talk about anything earth-shaking. When we chat, I talk about home, family, other friends, work, school/teaching...stuff like that. Just normal, run-of-the-mill, daily stuff. It's kind of nice to be able to babble on about nothing in particular, make a few stupid jokes, make plans to hang out, etc.

The most interesting part in all of this is that I had a fleeting moment of, "Oh crap." The "Oh crap" thought happened because I started worrying that adding one more person to my life might be chaotic and wreak havoc, but in reality, the opposite has turned out to be true. It occurred to me that I've spent the past ten years wrapped up in work, wrapped up in my relationship, and then later, wrapped up in being a mom. There was so little time for myself that I didn't realize how badly I needed it. Maybe it's just me, but I was honestly feeling like I had lost part of myself, like I didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't even realize how much I've isolated myself, especially in recent years.

Recognizing that makes me a little sad, just because I'm seeing more and more that I've limited myself in so many ways, but it's also motivated me to make some changes. I told my husband a few weeks ago that we needed to pick one night over the weekend, each weekend, and declare it "me time." He does his thing, I do my thing. Even married couples need time apart from each other to pursue their own interests. (I'm singing "Amen" to myself right now.) But it's true. Shawn and I have completely different interests and I've put most of mine on hold the whole time we've been together. That's not a slam against anyone, just a statement of fact. He's not interested in theater/plays, or going to movies, or going dancing. We share some interest in the same music, but not much. And yet, somehow, we managed to get together and get married, which is pretty neat, but there's been a bit of a void. My tank was empty. I tell people all the time that when you give of yourself day after day, you have to be selfish (in a good way and in moderation) to make sure that your tank gets filled up. If you feel fulfilled, you're more likely to keep working to meet others' needs, too.

I finally decided to fill up my own tank and it feels amazing.


Jim Latchford said...

Some times it is necessary and important to get outside of yourself to gain a new perspective on who you are. It's like looking into a mirror...after a while we take for granted that what we see on the outside is all that matters, is all that is important, is all that is relative. Some times it takes another person who holds no preconceived notions or expectations of who you are to show you that behind that reflected image lies a person of unquie worthiness, that has a special place in God's plan to flower His world. Such a found friendship is God's continuing confirmation that we are not to do life alone. Go forth and blossom, friend, for I have sensed your inner beauty from afar and know that you are a vessel in which God continues to fill you with His love and plans to bring you into the sunlight where He has intended you to be all along.

Cheryl said...

So many people lose their own identities when they're in a relationship. Friends are so important, and good ones are one in a million. You're doing good!