Friends, family, and feelings

When I started writing this post yesterday it was a recounting of a friendship that is no more. It opened with details about how we became friends, some things we had done together, and then moved into my slowly dawning realization that the friendship was over. For whatever reasons, my former friend ended our relationship this year by ghosting me.

The loss of this friendship has been in my mind a lot lately for various reasons. I feel sad about it, and even shed some tears on Christmas Day. But I had to stop writing to get to an appointment, and when I returned home I had other things to do. Instead of writing, I thought more about the situation as I did my chores, and I’m glad I did.

Because as I reflected more on what I was feeling, I realized my sadness was about more than just losing one friend: it was about feeling rejected and unloved by other people, in general.

It was about how my mother never wants to spend more than two minutes on the phone with me.

It was about not being able to reach my father on the phone so I could wish him Merry Christmas.

It was about realizing that the attractive bartender that I had met a few weeks ago wasn’t interested in me, just being flirty because that was his way of relating.

It was about feeling unattractive and unlovable with my wonky eye and overweight body.

It was about feeling unwanted and unappreciated in my current work group.

It was about dealing with the slow decline of my beloved dog’s health and the fear that I would be losing her — my one constant companion who showers me with unconditional love — soon.

I’m glad that I didn’t finish the first version of this post and that I was able to figure out what was really going on in my head. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the point where I don’t feel unlovable, but I try to remind myself that isn’t a sweeping generalization.

After all, I was welcomed to a warm and festive family dinner and gathering on Christmas Day with a former neighbor and friend. Last night I attended the annual Boxing Day party thrown by another former neighbor and friend. And tonight I will be visiting with yet another friend and enjoying a delicious meal in her home.

There are people who like me and value me, and I just need to focus on them and not dwell on loss and pain. I’m working on it, and that’s a good thing.

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Am I a mentor now?

There hasn’t been much writing going on lately. In trying to figure out why I just don’t want to write, the only thing I can come up with is the general feelings of overwhelm I’ve been dealing with over the past few weeks.

The stress of the holidays has certainly been part of that. Trying to balance time with family and friends, and time for myself during the last few weeks has left me limp. I get cranky and start shutting down when I feel over-committed, and it frankly doesn’t take much for me to feel over-committed these days. Stressing about work — thinking about it and berating myself for not feeling more motivated about it — has also taken it’s toll on me.

One of the things I’ve come to accept about myself over the past few years is that I’m an introvert, which means that in order to re-charge I need time away from hustle and bustle and people. I used to think being an introvert was a bad thing, but I’ve accepted that knowing what you need to feel your best is inherently good. Besides, it’s not as if I need to do something illegal or immoral — like torturing animals or bullying people — to feel good. I just need quiet time so I can let my mind wander and feel refreshed. (I can even find time to refresh in a crowded cafe, like right now. Often it is possible to be alone even in a crowd.)

Last night I spent some time talking with an old acquaintance who is going through a separation and divorce. I grew up next door to this guy, and while we don’t have much in common at this point, I did see him at a reunion gathering shortly after my divorce was final. He reached out to me last night via Facebook since he remembered that I had been divorced recently. Since I can be a pretty compassionate person I spent a bit of time talking with him.

I remember feeling that lonely and that desperate for human contact. I remember how scared it made me to lose the person I thought was my life companion. There was the desire to be coupled again, and the fear that I wouldn’t be able to do so; that I just would fail at dating.

Having close friends helped me through those times, and I think men are at a disadvantage here. This guy is conservative and “old school,” and many guys in his position have a less-developed support network.

So what did we talk about? I tried to let him talk as much as possible, since I know that is critical in these situations. But I did give him some advice. I told him to just focus on getting through the divorce right now and not to worry about dating yet. I seconded the suggestion another friend of his had made to join a Meetup so he could get out of the house and socialize a bit. (I also had to explain to him that Meetups aren’t necessarily dating networks, too.) And I told him that I completely understood those fears he was having of being alone.

I’m not alone now and I never have been. I’ve been blessed to have really great friends, and I’m grateful for each one of them. Nearly two years has gone by since my divorce, and I feel that I learned a lot from my marriage and the divorce. That’s the best outcome I could have asked for, too.

The friend brigade

I am blessed to have so many wonderful friends. They are often quite different from each other, as they may have been met through the varied interests in my life. But all have been a big support to me during this difficult time in my life.

Last night, I spent time with Rachael visiting what will soon be her new apartment and having a delicious dinner at a raw food restaurant. (Cousin’s Incredible Vitality on Irving Park Rd. Fabulous food!!) Tonight, I met Betsy at The Matchbox for a couple drinks, some yummy friend calamari, and a discussion that covered a variety of personal stuff.

I’m certain Adrienne is somewhat relieved that I’ve spent two busy nights out, as I’ve called her nearly every night the past week to talk and cry a little about adjusting to evenings alone. The past 2 nights she’s gotten a much-needed break. Since she’s a good friend who has been through this before herself, I know she has given her time to me gladly, and frankly I’m certain to call her many more nights.

I think part of my general misery over the past week has been caused by my illness and a bit of “cabin fever” caused by staying at home every day for the past week. But the good news is that I’m on the mend. I’ll telecommute again tomorrow, and then I’ll be going into the office on Thursday for the first time in weeks.

And so I move onwards bit by bit into my new life, supported by friends and colleagues near and far, and with a new appreciation for taking life day by day, one thing at time. I am already feeling more balanced and getting back into the habit of walking around with my hands open, ready to receive what comes, and give up what I must.