My brother and I labeled this summer “The Summer of Heartbreak” because so many people we know broke up, got divorced, or just had their hearts pummeled in general. It’s to the point that I’m so jaded about romantic relationships that even if He-Against-Whom-All-Others-Are-Compared showed up and confessed his undying love, I would
probably run in the other direction.
But, on the uncharacteristically optimistic flipside of all this, I also realized, this cooling side of summer, that I have many great relationships in my life which are incredible blessings to me.
I often learn via the compare/contrast method.
I have not always had great friends. Quite frankly, many of those from school days left me with issues which I’m realizing will probably never go away no matter how many different ways I try to stomp them down. I also seem to have a sign over my head proclaiming, “Tell me your problems.” A depressing pattern has emerged in my friendships were I try to help and end up having the emotional energy sucked out of me without getting much in return. As my brother put it earlier this summer, “I honestly feel like a lot of it comes down to your not having a whole lot of experience bringing the ‘right’ people into your life ~shrug~ I think most of your training in relationship-building has resulted in… not entirely constructive, long-term-healthy relationships.” One close friend echoed, “How do you keep getting yourself into these friendships?” It’s at least reassuring that it’s not all in my head.
Anyway, all of these awful friendships have been a blessing, in a way. By comparison, my good friends seem absolutely amazing. Often when sitting/drinking/laughing/talking with my main group of friends, I find myself thinking, “Huh, I love everyone here.” Or, I’m constantly surprised when my friends do things for me. Or show concern. Or care enough to give me wise counsel. It’s kind of pathetic but also refreshing to constantly re-remember that I have people who love me.
And not all of these relationships are the same, which is another Autumn-realized blessing. I tend to want to know everyone as well as possible and be as close as possible to everyone in my life. But sometimes this can be exhausting and I end up draining myself. Sometimes I work too hard to make a friendship work – as my brother pointed out, from bad training. I have to remember that not all relationships are created equal. I can’t be intimately close with some, because those friendships will not work that way. I also can’t be anything but intimate with others, because those friendships won’t work if I’m not. I need to get different things from different people, and I need to give different things to different people.
Fortunately, a great mix of peeps have been thrown into my life:
- I have a friend I can rely on to talk about Halloween costumes one minute and our deepest personal aches the next.
- I have a friend who this summer was going through similar “WTF?” friend crap, and we oddly reconnected by getting outside our own situations while simultaneously empathizing with each other.
- I have a friend who will stay up way past her bedtime and FB Chat me through my crying, knowing me well enough to end on a goofy note:
- I have a brother who is also a best friend who knows he can stop by at 12:30 a.m. to talk about his crap because he knows I love him.
- I have a circle of friends who actually enjoy sports.
- I have a friend who will text me absolutely incoherent nonsense because it’s common knowledge that I find this amusing.
- I have a friend who, after 20+ years, will still offer to tell off someone (a stranger to her) who has hurt me.
- I have friends who are like siblings to me even if we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives and we don’t see each other as often as we would like.
- I have friends who could talk seriously but mostly enjoy comparing notes on TV, movies, and books.
- I have somewhat-lost friends who still reach out and remind me that I have people in my life who care about me.
SO. In all of this, I see the hand of God gently and not so gently turning me to see – through the pain and heartache – the blessings in my life. I will inevitably get annoyed with my friends and nitpick, but I really did, through this summer, greatly appreciate those who prove that I have relationships that save me.
Bring on Autumn.