There have been a lot of new people coming into my life since I’ve last visited you here on the Blogorama back in July. Do you ever have streaks like that, where it feels like you’re meeting a ton of new people or growing surprising new friendships all the time?
I absolutely love it. And you know what? I’m super ready for it.
Over a year ago, when my divorce was first making the headlines in my social circle, I really wasn’t surprised when 99% of those people headed for the hills. No matter what you say, or what you try and promise, divorce naturally makes people choose sides, and my side was more icky and hard to digest than my ex-husband’s. #TrueStory
But that was OK. I really don’t ever think I was super shocked at the great exodus. I’m sure I would have done the exact same thing, so I hope this doesn’t comes across as me blasting them for their choice.
But it certainly left my life much lonelier than before.
Even as an extrovert, though, this particular and sudden loneliness was so peaceful and quiet, it really was awesome and not as suffocating as I once would have thought it would be.
As the months passed though, I became acutely aware that my list of friends who I could text or reach out to when my heart was broken, my kids were driving me to madness or my mind was blown by that one crazy scene on “Scandal” was very small. No worries, I told myself, This is just one of the costs of my choice. Time to suck it up and continue to move forward.
Then all of a sudden, new people started popping up and laughing with me, listening to me and crying with me. I’ll admit that I was scared that they’d am-scray as soon as they heard more of my story, but I was amazed when they stuck around after learning detail after embarrassing detail.
These new friends have watched me break down crying in hallways or meetings; they’ve held my hair back as I puked unceremoniously for hours. I’ve received texts and messages where they just wanted to check on me or tell me something funny that happened to them at all hours of the day. We’ve quoted “30 Rock” at each other and have taken long walks and hikes through the park. It’s all been amazing and I’m incredibly grateful.
The other night I got to meet a fun group of new people and while it wasn’t exactly the occasion for revealing all my heart’s secrets and oddities, it was a great opportunity to practice being a good listener and an observer. It reminded me that we all long to be surrounded by safe and loving people who really know us.
The safe people in our lives are the ones who know all our dirty deeds and quirks, yet they still choose to stick around and love you. These people don’t see you as a project person who they need to fix, change or tolerate. They just choose to accept you as you are.
I’m not sure I can say I’ve always been a friend like that to other people. I can totally remember times where I was investing myself in people’s lives with a secret mission to help them heal or change. I thought trying to get them to “better themselves” was me being a good friend.
Blech. I really don’t want anything to do with that type of friendship anymore.
I’ll admit that I sometimes miss getting to present the pretend “clean and tidy” Jenny that I was in the past. To me, my old friendships were places for perfection and purity. There was no room for being real, unless it ultimately added to the shining perfect picture that I was working so hard to portray. Hangouts were a time to be “on” and funny and pretty and clever.
Sure, my old friends could be real with me, and many often were, but it just made me feel more responsible to be the one who had it all together – the strong one who could be a good example and lead them through the shit in their lives. Cause if I was truly a woman of God, then my life would reflect super-awesome stability, right? My relationships would be shining examples they’d make Hallmark movies about!
But this was never true. There was always something missing from those friendships. And now I know it was me being authentic, even when it meant showing people my icky, scabby side. You can’t expect super-awesome connections when you’re only offering 40% of yourself, you know?
Now my new relationships get hit with the firehouse of Jenny-ness and holy crap…they haven’t left yet. What an amazing and pleasant surprise.
I was worried that if I was on full blast, I wouldn’t have room for others to be on full blast too. In my past, it could never be BOTH people who were having meltdowns or stressful times. But I was totally wrong about that. When you’re operating in full-reality mode, everyone can be having crazy times! In fact, it’s kind of rare that people AREN’T having a ton of super-crazy stuff going on. And it’s not smothering or overwhelming when you go into it knowing that things may get messy and snotty and totally gross.
I don’t quite understand all of it yet, but I just know that it’s been really good.
Thanks, everyone. It’s been a pleasure to meet you.