Last month I did something unusual – I celebrated my birthday. Don’t get me wrong; each year we do something to mark another year’s passing – usually dinner out with some gifts. But this year, for my 40th birthday, I got to go up to the mountains (thankfully pre-flood) with a small group of girl friends. No kids, no significant others, only two cute dogs and us girls.
We are all at different stages in our lives, some married, some wanting to be married. Some with kids – some wanting kids. Some of those kids are grown and moved on, some of those kids expect 3 meals to be served a day. But, significantly, so much of who we are and what we share as women is universal.
As I sat listening to their stories, to my own stories, I was shocked at how similar we all sounded despite how different our backgrounds were. We all had perceived inadequacies about ourselves that our friends did not see. We all seemed to find comfort and even healing in telling stories about our pasts and even our past transgressions. We all found comfort in listening to other’s stories as we realized that we all have fears about being good enough. We all beat ourselves up for past mistakes. We all feel hurt and alone at times.
The last two years have been bad for my family and me. Honestly, it reads like a bad drama including sickness, death, job loss, stress – lots of stress. It seems that one of my primary defense mechanisms when going through all of this is to essentially hide. I don’t like talking about it; I don’t want to think about it, I just don’t. However, the toll of keeping that all to myself can be burdensome.
Sometimes I forget – forget that I have an army of friends around me I can count on to listen without judgment and offer advice borne out of shared experience. Voicing my stories to others helps to turn some of those bad experiences into part of a transformative journey. And, I can do the same for my friends. I realized I need to do this more often.
Have you talked to your friends lately?