exercising the friendship muscle

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Yesterday I read a wonderful blog entry by a gal, Janet, I know through the Creative Group at Bedlam Farm. She is recently retired and is still feeling her way in using her new-found free time.  She speaks of developing friendships as out of her comfort zone but recognizes that it is important to start “exercising the friendship muscle.” Oh, I love how she phrased that.  It made me think about myself.

I learned at a very young age how to reach out to people.  Because I had a hearing disability, my peers were not inclined to reach out to me. I was different, and many of them thought I was stupid. So it was up to me to foster friendships. I experienced a lot of rejection, but I just kept plugging away. And I was blessed with a few really good friends growing up. And some are still my friends, even though great distance separates a few of us.

I am very fortunate as an adult to enjoy many wonderful friendships. Having no family left and being an only child, these friends have become my chosen family.  Not too long ago, I took my friend Nan along when I visited Hannah’s oncology vet.  After I introduced Nan to Dr. J, she turned to me and said, “You have lots of friends!”  I replied, “Yes, I am so lucky.” This remark was prompted after she’d also met Wendi and Fran who had both accompanied me on other high stress visits.

But sometimes I get very tired exercising my friendship muscle.  It’s frustrating when it continually falls on me to initiate contact and arrange time to get together.  We all know that true friendships require a balance – a “two way street” as the cliché goes.  I’ve gotten very good at navigating one way streets, but sometimes my tires and motor just fizzle out.

  • There’s the friend who comments, “Good idea,” when I suggest getting together. And then nothing happens.
  • There’s the friend who says she doesn’t want to bother me. Boy, would I love to be bothered!!
  • There’s the friend who will never give me any dates when I invite her and her husband to my home. So we wind up almost never seeing each other. We genuinely cherish our friendship too.
  • There’s the friend who says she’ll be in touch, and then a year or more will pass.

These are all people I truly love, but sometimes my friendship muscle just gets overworked to the point of fatigue.

True, we live in a crazy and fast paced world. But life isn’t worth living without friends.  I’m so grateful for my friends who take a few seconds/minutes to email or send a text  – just to say hello and check in or to suggest a spontaneous outing.  I’m so grateful to the friends who call me family. I’m so grateful to the friends who support me through my crises; they call, text, stop by, and accompany me to appointments. I’m so grateful for the friends who take phone messages or make phone calls for me.  They’re there, and I am so fortunate.

~The image is a photograph of Coral Bells with post processing in an app called Waterlogue.

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