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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Jonathon, Soskia and Gina, chowing down on Mexican food and Prosecco.

Jonathon, Saskia and Gina, chowing down on Mexican food and Prosecco.

Every Tuesday, a group of friends and I hang out, taking part in a shared meal before settling in with a video series by Rob Bell, an emergent pastor with some simple, yet huge, ideas. Two months ago, many of the people in this group were strangers to me. But something happens when you spend week after week with a group of people, breaking bread with delicious food, revealing your struggles and passions through whatever that week’s topic is….you become friends.

This was definitely true last night. We gathered around the island in Gina’s kitchen, talking about our highs and lows of the week over burritos and bubbly. Usually we drink wine with our dinner. But I had a bottle of Prosecco from Barefoot Wines I was dying to try. So we paired our Mexican meal with a glass of sparkling wine.

Prosecco1Let me pause here to rave about this Prosecco*. I had never tried it before, so I had no idea what I was in for. Gina popped the bottle and I poured us each a glass. The first thing we noticed was how light and refreshing it was. It has just a hint of sweetness, but leans more toward the dry side. We all agreed how good it was. Jonathon, who admitted to not being much of a champagne fan, even said that Prosecco was the way to go when it came to sparkling wine. And while I’m sure it would be a great accompaniment to a meal with light flavors, like seasoned veggies or salmon, I was quite impressed with how it tasted with our burritos. 😉 I will most definitely be drinking this wine again.

At any rate, Gina mentioned how this was the second to last week our group will be meeting – all the more reason to break out the bubbly. But it was also a bittersweet bit of news. It’s been so short since we started hanging out together, learning more about our faith, as well as who we are as human beings. However, this group seems to have melded together really well, celebrating in each other’s milestones and happenings. At one point, we all sat in the living room, admitting our most awkward times in our youth, realizing how unoriginal each of our childhoods really were. And I looked around the room and saw good friends, people I knew would drop everything for any of us.

All in two months.

My friend Gina (left) and me.

My friend Gina (left) and me.

I owe this, first, that we’re just awesome people. 😉 But I think there’s a little more to it. Any time you pair good people with excellent food and something delicious in your glass, you’ve got the first few ingredients of a promising friendship. Week after week, this has proven true. Tonight’s burritos and Prosecco just happened to be another one of these magic combinations.

*Barefoot Wines sent me a bottle of Prosecco to review. However, these views are completely my own.

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I went out to lunch with a coworker today. She’s someone I have known for years, and have always thought she was just a wonderful person. As long as I’ve known her, she’s been bubbly and upbeat, cheering others on around her in their endeavors, and just an inspiration on how to be a decent person. But being a natural introvert, I’ve never been one to make the first move to get to know her better – or anyone at work, for that matter. I’ve always left it up to others to try and get to know me better because it’s just easier that way, you know? There’s less risk involved. Naturally that must mean I have tons of friends, right?

You’d think, huh.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t work that way. But regardless, this coworker and I connected recently and came to the mutual decision that we should really have lunch. We ended up having over an hour of fantastic conversation as we discussed everything from our kids to our faith, and everything in between. When we got back to our desks, she emailed me the kindest note. In it, she mentioned that while it might not seem like it, she’s actually a very shy person.

“I’m not one to socialize much,” she wrote, “but you make it very easy. Let’s do it again!”

When it’s hard to make friends, maybe we just need a reminder we’re not the only ones who are shy. Somewhere out there is another human being who is longing for a friend and not sure how to go about it. It’s not just us who are afraid to make the first move. Others are too. But if no one makes the first move, then no one will go forward.

This truth is currently being illustrated by my stepson, Frizz, as he agonizes how to ask out the girl he has liked for the better part of the school year. As a senior, he is closing in on the end of his high school years. He is also closing in on the last chance he has to even talk to the girl he likes – let alone ask her out on a date, and perhaps even ask her to be his girlfriend. But just making that first step is terrifying enough, let alone any of the steps that follow after that.

Not sure how to advise my stepson, I asked my daughter, DQ, how she has been asked out in the past. She shared her most recent experience with me. The boy got to know her by asking a lot of questions about her, keeping his attention focused on her. The attraction proved to be mutual, and both of them dropped hints about their interest in each other. And when this boy was able to see that DQ was into him, he asked her to be his girlfriend.

“I guess what Frizz should do is just really try to get to know this girl better, then get her number, and when the moment seems right, tell her how he feels and see if she feels the same way,” DQ advised. “If he does it right, he might even know that she likes him back when he gets to that point.”

Of course, she makes it sound so easy. And truthfully, if you put your nerves aside, it really is that easy. But for someone as shy as Frizz, as shy as my coworker, as shy as ME, taking that first step can feel like preparing to jump off a cliff.

But if no one makes the first move, then no one will go forward.

I guess this could be a lesson in anything. We never know what will happen unless we make that first move – whether it be making a new friend, expressing a feeling of adoration, publishing a book, taking a stand for yourself, risking it all…. If we live a life so full of caution that it keeps us from living life to the fullest, we can’t claim we know the bad that will happen. We also will never know the good that will happen.

Being social for an introvert might feel totally unnatural. But while painful at first, barreling through that shyness isn’t lethal. It might seem that way, but taking that first step won’t strike you down dead. The worst that can happen is that you might get turned down. Sucky, sure. But you’ll be able to move beyond it rather than getting stuck in the unknown. And the best that can happen? You’ll get exactly what you wanted in the first place. A new friend. That special someone who likes you just as much as you like her. Or a published book (only a few more weeks left until A Symphony of Cicadas is officially published).

We’ll never know until we’ve made the first move.

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I met my friend “Lisa” about 6 years ago when she was a new mother, and a single one at that. My sister introduced us, seeing how her friend felt incredibly alone in the process and needed someone who could relate. I was a little more seasoned in the single mom arena, and we hit it off immediately. It’s not often I find friendships like this, where we go from being perfect strangers to friends who confide in each other about everything. But when I do, those are the friendships that generally hold the most meaning.

My friendship with Lisa was just like that.

Over the years we became allies. At the time, neither one of us had the other parent helping out with our kids. But we did have each other. We created a babysitting swap between the two of us, watching each other’s children to create moments of sanity and reprieve from motherhood, and a chance to maybe find love in the dating world.

Being writers, we’d share our daily life stories through long-winded emails that only the two of us could appreciate. We both blogged, and were consistent in commenting in each other’s blogs. She might have been my only reader, but her hilarious blogs garnered tons of comments from all her friends and fans appreciating the laugh.

Lisa was the kind of person who said what she was thinking, even when it’s not something that should be said out loud. She pushed the envelope when she felt like it needed pushing. She never failed to shock me, or to leave me in awe of her bravery at being unapologetically herself.

I was there when she struggled in a one-bedroom apartment with a toddler. She was there for every dating disaster I subjected myself to. We overlooked each other’s messy homes and low-income living. I celebrated with her when she found Mr. Right, got engaged, and held a beautiful wedding. She was there when I found my prince among a trove of frogs and settled into a relationship that finally made sense.

And when a series of circumstances attacked her out of left field, I watched helplessly as depression overtook my beautiful friend, leaving her a shell of the women she once was.

I’ve suffered my own bout with depression. A decade ago I lived in a large house that didn’t seem to garner any light at all. We had just lost a baby to stillbirth. My marriage was failing. And our money situation was incredibly bleak. I lived in the darkness, every day excruciatingly the same. I stopped talking to my friends or leaving the house. In return, most of my friends forgot about me. I was afraid of the dark feelings inside me, as if they were an infectious disease. Caring for my kids became exhausting. Just getting up and walking in the other room to make them something to eat made me feel so tired. So I spent most of the day lying on the couch with the curtains drawn, and I silently hoped to fall asleep and just never wake up.

When someone is going through depression, they are the last ones to admit it – at least out loud. I knew I was depressed, but I was afraid to tell anyone. Of course, it’s not like depression is easily hidden. My mom, seeing that I wasn’t capable of helping myself, pulled me aside and insisted I needed serious help. I finally made an appointment with my doctor, a wonderful woman who recognized the devastation growing like cancer inside me. And as I sat and cried on her exam table, she gently handed me a prescription for medication.

However, even after suffering and surviving depression, I feel totally incapable watching Lisa suffer through her own battle with this debilitating disease. It’s hard to know what to do as my friend falls deeper and deeper into her grief, going from a normal sadness to something that is much bigger than she is. I miss my friend, and it’s been a struggle to sidestep my personal feelings of abandonment while my friend withdraws.

After several failed attempts to contact her, I finally made a decision to consciously step back from our friendship. I didn’t know how to be there for her, and was starting to feel like she didn’t want me there anyway. And this devastated me. But our lapse in friendship only lasted a short time. Her name showed up on my phone a few days later, and I listened to her sob for a full 40 minutes – giving her no advice except to tell her “I know”, and “I’m so sorry you’re going through this”.

And then I just listened.

When I lost my baby 10 years ago, I sat in the hospital room feeling more alone than ever. My husband was gone with the kids. The nurse had left the room. But another friend of mine showed up.

“I don’t know what to say,” she told me. “I have no advice at all. But I’m just going to sit here. And I’ll be here if you need me, even if you just need to cry.” And she sat there for over an hour while I slipped in and out of sleep and tried to escape my grief. And her presence meant more to me than almost anything anyone has ever done for me.

Being a friend doesn’t require knowing all the answers, or trying to fix what’s broken. That can be the hardest thing to remember, or even to accept. But sometimes, being a friend requires nothing more than just being there – and listening.

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“I’m thinking you and I should catch a mom’s night out at some point…we seem to have a lot in common.”

It was the text I received from the mom of one of my son’s friends. I had known her for a little over a year, and it was true, we did have a lot in common. I had been thinking the same thing about her as well, how we seemed to be a perfect match for friendship. But I didn’t know how to broach the subject. I’m shy when it comes to friendships.

Yes, me – shy.

Truth is, it’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and spill my life secrets for everyone to read and dissect (and, as some of you may have noticed, been at the mercy of a few trolls….). I’m not actually looking at you when I type. And therefore, I can pretend that what I’m writing is merely a long letter to none other than ME. But it’s nerve wracking to be face to face with someone else, offering more of myself than common pleasantries. You will not see me hosting any huge awards night (I’d be much more James Franco than Anne Hathaway). You won’t see me throwing the party of the century. And in social situations, I am more likely to see how the food is holding up than looking someone in the eye and casually gabbing about the latest and greatest in my life. For someone who has a lot to say in typed word, I have nothing to say in person. So obviously, making friends is not my forte.

And making friends with girls, even more intimidating.

I think it stems from my school days. I was not the most popular, but I definitely had friends in elementary. Of course, elementary is easy. In those grades, everyone is friends. If someone gets mad over something, it’s forgotten by the next day. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, if you don’t own the most expensive clothing, or how your hair is cut. Your classmates are the very people you grow up with. But it all changes in Jr. High, sometimes a little before. Girls I had been friends with suddenly sectioned off into an elite group, and me and my chubby self were not allowed. Of course it hurt, though I pretended it didn’t. I hung out with a much smaller group of girls and made different friends. But the awkward shame of being outcasted by the very people I loved as my friends hurt me to the core.

In high school I finally had a redeeming moment. At a football game, a girl I had been friends with in our younger days got into conversation with me. She had surpassed the Jr. High social mountain, climbing her way to the top thanks to her beauty and parents’ wealth. And here she was laughing at all my wisecracks, a defense mechanism I had perfected in my nerdiness.

“Why haven’t we been hanging out?” she asked me. And we planned a sleepover that very night in her elaborate castle of a home. We spent the night giggling and gossiping, and the morning making crepes in her huge kitchen. And the Monday after the weekend, I ditched my usual friends and meandered over to the group she hung out with, quietly hanging on the outside of the circle. She waved to me, and I smiled, making my way closer to her. But my presence didn’t go totally unnoticed.

“What is SHE doing here?” one girl hissed, sneering at me through narrowed eyes. And my new friend smiled apologetically as I sheepishly exited the group and went back to where I belonged, wondering what the hell I was thinking in the first place.

Why are girl friendships so hard? My 7th grade daughter is discovering the perils of girl friendships in her first year of Jr. High, suffering at the hands of some mean-spirited cattiness. Veronica, the P360 mommy blogger at “Adventures in Mommyhood” describes her own conflicts with girl friendships, as well as her fears for her own three girls, in a recent blog titled Mean Girls. On the Santa Rosa Mom boards, moms have lamented over friendship loss that occurs when babies are born. And as I sat over lunch with my new friend, she also described the loss that happened when she started having children, noticing that her friends were disappearing one by one, and how making and keeping friendships with girls now seemed harder than ever.

And in this new friend, I suddenly saw a fellow sister – someone who was describing what I have gone through, and what many women were experiencing all over the place.  Trust issues, shyness, friendship loss, and the phobias that enter each time a friend abandons us – leaving us to check out the food table rather than meet new people.

I’m happy to say that our Girl Date was fabulously successful.  We started out shyly, but warmed up to be true pals by the end. She’s even called my back so we can go out again.  I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Have you experienced difficulties in friendships with girls?

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