Journal Entry #59
I’ve been chewing on this for a while now. It is a sensitive subject, because we all have such different perspectives. It is also sensitive because I don’t want to sound judgemental or that I am ungrateful for the relationships that I have in my life. I understand that we are all on our own paths, that we all see life through our own filters and we are all doing the best we can with what we have. So what I am about to share, is mostly an observation, and in the end, a valuable lesson for me.
Some of the friends that I thought would have rallied around me during this Leishmaniasis experience, didn’t. And yet, others, stepped up and were a constant rock for me, which was a pleasant surprise. I remember when we were getting married, I said to Tim, “Boy this process really shows you who your friends are, and who your friends are not.”
Illness offers the same lesson.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that I wasn’t disappointed…but at the same time I was never let down. When I thought I needed someone, and they didn’t show up, another did. It wasn’t that I was alone, it is just that I was surrounded by another, equally as valuable person.
One friend, was brutally honest. She told me that she would be praying for me, following the blogs, and sending love, but that she just couldn’t watch me suffer. It was too hard for her emotionally to see me sick. I have always been there for her, supported her, nurtured her, listened and loved her and for her to see “her rock” suffer was just too scary to engage in. She felt that she would bring me stress and she didn’t want to put me in a position to have to comfort her through this. And I think that is fair. It took a lot of courage for her to tell me so openly and honestly that she just couldn’t be there for me.
I respect the hell out of that.
Not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver.
Not everyone is cut out to watch suffering.
Not everyone knows what to say or do in the face of illness or grief.
Not everyone is comfortable to sit in silence.
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t like I was sitting around thinking of all the people who weren’t checking in, reaching out or stopping by. We were inundated with support, so, so, blessed – beyond our wildest dreams.
It was actually an amazing gift, to see how intricately and vastly woven my life is in my mere 40 years.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, because some of the friends that I haven’t seen or heard from though this process are coming around again. I have been making appearances in public places again. I went to the Port Perry Fair, I have been grocery shopping, and I went to the Bank for the first time in 6 months last week. Getting my feet wet again socially, means that I am interacting with the world, and it invites the world to interact with me. I am not really back to work yet. I am seeing 3-4 clients a week. A far cry from the thirty I would normally see. But, forward is forward. It seems, as I engage with life, those sleepy relationships are waking back up again, and I think it is wonderful.
Some have come back and apologized for not being there. I can feel their guilt. I can feel their shame. I can feel their reservation within our relationship. And it makes me feel sad.
There isn’t anything to apologize for. There isn’t anything to feel guilty about. There isn’t anything to feel shame over. Please absolve yourselves from those lower frequency emotions…
And for those of you that need it, I forgive you.
I get that life is busy. I understand that we all have responsibilities. I know first-hand how hard it is to prioritize people, places and things in life. I know that we can’t be all things, to all people, at all times.
I’ve also learned how important the self is.
We all have different coping mechanisms in life. Although I like to call a thing a thing, sometimes denial is a safer place to be.
It can be a dangerous thing if we stay there too long. Eventually we all will need to call a thing a thing. This process is causing me to evaluate my role in the relationships that I participate in. As these thoughts swirl around in my head, I find myself contemplating what it means to be a friend. What does it mean to me? What does it mean to others? Because, frankly, we all have different needs and comfort levels. Perhaps an anchor would help? Especially, as I am hyper-sensitive to all those in need, right now. I’ll try my hand at an acrostic poem:
Faith for me includes the element of trust. It is important to be able to trust what I believe in and who I believe in. To know that they have my best interests at heart, to know that it is okay to be vulnerable and that within that relationship there is a safe place for me to be so.
Responsibility refers to knowing and respecting each other’s boundaries. It is when I feel the call to help and serve and then follow through on that very calling. It means that I will show up when I say I will, do what I commit to, take credit when it is due, and shoulder the consequences when I drop the ball.
Integrity is an authentic expression of myself. It means that I represent Spirit in all things. I choose to represent the good in the world, and even when evil persists, I will walk the line of choice and work hard to find the positive and the meaningful and the hopeful.
Empathy is a feeling, but also an action to me. It means that I will speak when words are needed and share the silence when they are not. That I will listen to what is being said, and also listen to the space between the words to find what is really being communicated. Without judgement, without fear, allowing what is to just be.
To Nurture is an important action but also an important non-action. Sometimes holding space for another to heal is more nurturing than to tell someone how to do it. There are exponential ways to get to a destination, my path isn’t the only way and it is important to allow others the space to find what is right for them. It may mean simply sitting with someone while they are in pain. It might mean offering hope, love and peace.
Dependability is closely related to responsibility for me. It means that I will do what I say I will do. That I follow through, that those around me can trust that I will show up for them. It means that I am trustworthy and doing my best to come from a place of unconditional love.
Smiles are so important in life. To laugh, to have fun, to build relationships where experiences bring new lessons, awareness, and memories. We aren’t meant to travel this life alone, we are meant to gather meaningful and precious relationships along the way…life is serious business, but it can be fun along the way too.
The interesting thing I am learning as I write out these thoughts, is that all of these things are important to build and maintain healthy relationships…but there is something even more important lurking, if I peel back another layer. You know that saying “in order to love another, you must first love yourself?”
The same goes for friendship.
I cannot be a friend to anyone, if first I don’t befriend myself.
I MUST have faith and trust in myself.
I MUST be responsible for myself and how I show up in the world.
I MUST live with integrity, in all aspects of life.
I MUST have empathy towards myself.
I MUST take time to nurture my body, mind and soul.
I MUST be dependable within my own routine and boundaries.
I MUST smile and take opportunities to make more memories and grow as a person.
If I am not worthy of receiving the very gifts that I offer my friends, how will they themselves feel worthy of receiving them? How authentic would those gifts actually be if I am not operating from a solid foundation? Sure, they may offer some benefit, but would they have the same impact? Foundational belief: I teach others how to treat me. I do that through the example of how I am living, interacting and showing up in the world. If I am F.R.I.E.N.D.S. with myself, not only will I be better F.R.I.E.N.D.S. with my friends, but I will also be setting an example for others (and my kids) to be F.R.I.E.N.D.S. with themselves. It is a win/win!
It may sound like I am putting a lot of pressure on myself, and perhaps I am. What I am cognizant of though, is that relationships are always fluid. We give, we take and then we give some more. I honestly want to do the best I can. I know I won’t get it right all the time, and that is okay. Having this awareness of what it means to be a friend, and knowing when and how I am comfortable showing up as a friend is a huge gain. It means that I can articulate more clearly what I need, and what I can offer the world.
This wasn’t a gift I was anticipating, but I must say, thank you Leishmaniasis. Thank you to all the friends that showed up. Thank you to all the friends that didn’t.
I am truly grateful.