Tag Archives: friendship

the best gift

Yesterday, I was out for breakfast with one of my newest, yet closest friends.  We have regular ‘dates’, but sometimes they get shifted around due to other schedules.  We are ok with it, and sometimes it allows us the opportunity to do something different and fun.  We missed our regular Friday night get-together because of a work Christmas party.  Instead, we opted for Saturday morning breakfast at a popular little restaurant in town.

We did our usual chatting, catching up on the last couple of weeks.  Then she stopped and noticed something about me.  She said how she can see me with short hair when we are older and showing more grey.  She commented on us still getting together when we are old friends.

Old friends.

The thought of having old friends has always been elusive to me.  I have been the type to move every twelve years or less, but knowing I will be here, in this location, for far longer it finally dawned on me: I can have old friends here.  I have never given myself permission to look that far ahead in relationships because none of them, except for my absolute best friend 2000km away, has ever lasted the distances.  Old friends.  Greying, aging, and still there for each other kind of old friends.

This innocent comment that I am sure she had no idea of its impact, was in fact, the best gift I could have been given.

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perspective

A few days ago, I met a friend for a long overdue visit.  I have been in awe of this woman since the day we met almost nine years ago.  I adore her.  We gave each other the Cole’s notes version of what has happened in our lives since our last get together, and I think every single time she tells me what she’s been up to, she continues to amaze me.  She inspires me to be a better person simply by being who she is.  She is the woman I most admire, hands down.  It isn’t because she has won the Nobel prize, or has a triple PhD.  It’s because she is completely and entirely comfortable in her own skin.  She is confident, composed, calm.  Not only that, she inspires the same in others without having any expectations other than to just be the best version of yourself that you can be, because that is what she is also trying to do.

As we sat and talked, the topic of trees came up.  Without the context, it may seem irrelevant to speak of trees, so just trust me that it had great weight in the conversation.  Two days prior, we had a storm that downed many trees in the area.  One happened to be in my neighbor’s front yard that fell into my house.  It caused some relatively minor damage and certainly an ounce of inconvenience since I could not access my front entrance very well, and had to walk around my garage to make it to my house, but nothing unmanageable.  That night, after coming home from my regular Wednesday night meeting and coffee with fellow photographers, the sun was still out and the weather shifted to become a rather welcoming late evening.  I decided to take the dog for a walk and assess the damage to the neighborhood.  Walking down residential streets and the trails, the sounds of chainsaws echoed throughout the community as neighbors cleaned the fallen trees and branches in their yards.

After our walk, I came up to the tree laying heavily on my front steps and took a good close look at her.  She was beautiful.  Even though the blooms had not been ready to open, I examined the clusters of buds on the tree top; the ones too high to be able to see when she was standing tall.  But here, she was at eye level in all her beauty.  I grabbed my camera because I felt compelled to capture this glimpse of her life before it was taken away forever.  At this point, the sun was starting to set above the rooftops.  I realized how beautiful the sunset was in behind the tree, and in several shots I was able to capture that as well.

What struck me most is how much beauty there was in the destruction that occurred mere hours before.  How this perfectly imperfect tree could still be so beautiful laying on her side, how the day could turn itself around from the hundred kilometer an hour winds and driving rains to the gorgeous burnt orange sunset I could see amongst her branches.

There is beauty despite the damage.

It seems somewhat like a metaphor that can be used in so many ways.  Many of us are like that tree or like that storm.  Perfectly imperfect, damaged but still with immeasurable beauty.  Perhaps it is in how you view your environment.  Some would surely say the tree was a nuisance, but I am glad that I took the time to thank Mother Nature for the gift she gave me, even if it was fleeting.

The tree is gone now, but I have some memories of her and some beautiful photographs with a story that needed telling.  I am grateful for my friend who saw the value of my story for many may not have understood what I was feeling.  I thank the Universe for her timely fashion in bringing us together when she did.  Long overdue, yet perfectly on time.

soul sisters

There is something spiritual about having friends who are like-minded.  Ones that can finish your sentences just because they know exactly what you want to say, or ones that can read you in an instance and just know that all you need at that exact moment is a hug.  Until I experienced it, I did not know it existed just like that, and it amazes me how quickly that bond can develop.  It’s as if something was lined up in the stars to make it all happen.  Sometimes it makes me miss my beautiful, dearest soul sister even more because we have that same bond even with two thousand miles between us, but to feel it almost every day is a blessing.

There is something to be said in sharing each others joys and sorrows.  The pains and celebrations.  The unspoken words and language that can be said only with that look in one’s eyes.  This is the joy I had been missing all of my married life.  I am grateful for my new beginning.  My freedom from that controlling, manipulative man I now call my ex.  My free spirit that was once just a ghost in a dream has been given permission to come out to play, and she has found more soul sisters to be with.

And I am, for the first time in a truly long time, happy.

happiness 

How many people have found happiness?  I mean, truly found happiness. Happiness isn’t exactly quantifiable, but really has a qualitative aspect, somewhat like quality of life does.  So how do we know if we have actually achieved happiness?

A tad bit philosophical for a Sunday morning.  Hmmm

I think it’s safe to say that we have all had bouts of happiness.  Something has gone extremely well and we are pleased with the results, or someone has made us feel special in that way that nobody else seems to be able to and therefore we experience happiness attached to that.

I feel like we all have our own definition of happiness.  Sure, I could do a literature search on the topic and find out what researchers have discovered if they did a qualitative study on happiness, but I don’t care to do such a thing on a Sunday morning after just having returned home from a work-related trip.  I did, however,  ponder the thought of happiness in my life during my commute to and from my destination.

As I reflected on the things in my life, I have discovered that I have had numerous times where I have experienced happiness and many where I found the exact opposite.  Many would say that your wedding day is the happiest, most important day of your life.  Not for me.  I believe that I knew (having looked upon my life in retrospect) this was a mistake. I cried through the entire wedding ceremony…what does that tell you?  Hmmm.  Mistake in progress.  Loyalty kept me there.  Fear kept me there.  Oppression kept me there.  There are many reasons I could cite as to why I stayed, but again, in retrospect, none of them were valid, and the majority of people would have had no clue as to the state of the relationship I had with the man I was married to because I didn’t allow anyone to see it.

The birth of your children, again, another hallmark of happiness.  And to risk being taboo or state the once unstatable, my first pregnancy was not expected or planned, and therefore I did not experience that happiness immediately.  Does that mean I did not wish for the child?  Of course not.  I adapted.  I kept those ‘wrong’ feelings hidden.  I had a bright future planned.  Yes, I was married when the child was conceived.  But now my plan of leaving the person I was married to was now gone.  Depression hit.  Pregnancy complications hit.  Postpartum depression hit.  A change in career path was necessary.  I adapted.  My happiness was not as important as the one I was now bringing into the world.  Fake it till you make it.  Keep smiling.  Nobody likes a girl with a frown on her face.  Ok.

For the record, I loved that child more than life itself.  The pregnancy had a very real chance of taking my life and I took the risk for that child.

Onward.

I worked, I attached success at work to personal happiness. Did it work?  Perhaps superficially.  I began to identify with my career and had nothing other than that and being a mother.  Where was I? Who was I?  These were questions I couldn’t even consider asking or looking for answers to.  Remember that fear, loyalty and oppression?  Still there.

Let’s fast forward.  Here we are to the point of marital breakdown some 20 years later.  The attacks on my personal self were becoming unbearable.  No, I was not fat at 102 pounds.  No, I do not want to see what I would look like at 85 pounds, how dare you ask me to even try.  No, affairs are not normal nor should I accept it.  Violence and personal attacks, not acceptable.  Not anymore.  But these things still have an effect on us.  It took me time.  Years to work thorough the effects.  I still am.  I still get the fight or flight response when I see an officer come into Starbucks still wearing his sidearm.  Will that effect ever go away? I don’t know, but for now, I recognize it, acknowledge its presence, and take some deep, cleansing breaths and remember, this is not the man I once was married to.

I had an amazing relationship that I attached happiness to.  He treated me better than I had ever been treated before.  Of course I was happy!  Until he left without any fights or arguments, no differences in opinions.  I was at a loss as to why he left.  I still am, if we are to be truthful.  But this in itself was a gift.  It was a couple of gifts..  One,  now I know what it means to be loved, to be truly loved and cherished.  The feeling was incredible.  It’s a drug, I most assuredly can attest.  Two, I found that not only can I survive the loss of that, but I could actually thrive.  My happiness was not to be dependent on having someone love me.  My happiness needed to be an internal thing.

I found that I was ok alone.  I found that I enjoyed my own company.  I was now either forced to live a life imprisoned in my own home and become a cat lady, or I could blossom and experience the world my way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cat, but cats really are bitches and they will cut you if you look at them the wrong way.

I took a healthy amount of grieving time.  I tried dating but did not find it to be engaging, and it really is quite time consuming.  It became a bit of a social experiment for me: how many dates will this one last if there is no physical contact (no hand holding or kiss goodnight). How long will this one last if trapped in my vehicle for a day trip to the mountains? Let’s face it, the majority of men in the adult dating pool are really just looking for a lay.  I’m over it.  So until the right one happens to fall into my life by divine intervention, I’m not looking.

I have discovered good things too.  I take art classes on my own, I have my photography club that I belong to.  I have friends to go to the movies with.  Me and my dog will go for long walks together and meet up with strangers and have friendly meaningless exchanges, but the underlying word here is friendly.

I have discovered the joy of waking up in my own home that has been decorated my way.   I have the love of my children and my pets.  I have healthy friendships with people I want to be associated with, not being told by anyone that I can’t be friends with this one because he’s a man or that one because he doesn’t like her.

And you know what else?  I have rediscovered that love of education that I have pushed away simply because that was the only definition I had of myself for those married years.  I have been finding my thoughts gravitating towards the PhD that I considered before.  Perhaps I am starting to feel ready and prepared for this.  The key factor that I noticed when considering this option was that it was not anxiety or fear that held my emotions when thinking about it.  It was happiness and excitement.  I think at the moment that I recognized that, I realized that I was truly happy.  Let’s not confuse happiness with perfection though.  My life is far from perfect, but as it is, I am happy.

friendship

There isn’t much that is more satisfying than a good, symbiotic friendship.  Especially when that friend is also the parent of your children’s best friends.

Then funny thing is, when you go through divorce, you find out who your real friends are, who are the gossips, and who just want to meddle and cause problems.  Some are easier to weed out than others.  But those who are actual, true friends…well, those ones are more precious than gold.

One friend happened to be an unlikely one.  One I hadn’t given much thought to, but I am very grateful for his existence.  The best part about this friendship is that there are no ulterior motives there.  No expectations.  He helps me, I help him.  We drink wine.

End of story.

What’s most interesting is because he is the opposite gender, I get a different perspective when I talk with him.  I can see things from the male perspective…something that is lacking in an all female friendship circle.

Some people would claim that men and women are unable to have a purely platonic relationship.  I disagree.  I do know that many men (and likely women too) will use the guise of friendship with less than pure intentions.  I’ve seen it, I’ve had it happen to me, I will not do that to another.  I know he does not have this agenda.  He has a beautiful girlfriend who far surpasses me.  So, this makes it a safe friendship to maintain.

I think every divorcing man and woman should have this kind of friendship at some point.  It really does change how you view the opposite sex, and as far as I’m concerned, it enhances life.  For my children, they now have that strong and positive male role model that they desperately have been craving.  This is probably the most valuable part of all.