(Stick with me.. it's been a while and I may start one place and end another but I DO have a point.... promise ;-))
Have you ever met someone for the first time and after spending some time with them, you just get the feeling that they don't have room in their life for more friends? For you?
I have. I think there's a strong possibility that we all have.... us women, that is. (Though from time to time, I've seen it happen to my husband, too).
It happened to me about 2 weeks ago and I have to be honest, it's bugged me ever since.
You're in a room with strong, successful, independent, accomplished women who have known each other for years and you.... well, you're the new one. You're the one who didn't quite get there in time to make the cut...
Ok. Ok... maybe I'm being dramatic but regardless of the situation, the feeling of being an 'outsider' or the 'odd man out' isn't a feeling that's easy to shake. Especially as a woman.
Female relationships have always been hard for me. Don't get me wrong, I've always had amazing girlfriends... namely my mom, my cousins, and a close childhood friend. I made a couple lifelong friends when we lived in Charlotte, and a couple more when we lived in Kansas; We talk regularly, we know when support is needed, and we trust each other with everything.
I've lost friends, too.
Yes, life happens. Yes, people grow apart. Yes, things change... people change.
Growing up, I didn't know how to 'do' long-term friendships. I had my family and those two life-long, pick up where you left off, grow old together friends and that was enough for me. It was ok with me as people came and went in my life and as I came and went in theirs as long as I had those women.
But I always noticed the cliques... the groups of girls, they always had a 'leader', who did everything together; sports, parties, girls' nights, trips.... everything. Did you know those girls? My high school was notorious for this (no offense, SHS).... it was small and everyone knew everyone and they knew each other since before they were born. They knew each other well and well, it was hard not to feel that they had all the friends they needed.
I never want to be the one, or be with the one's, who make someone feel like that. Like the one there isn't room for. I know I've done it, I'm sure I've done it... have you?
Do you have people that you can 'do life' with?
I had an amazing friend when we lived in Kansas.... there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to be lifelong friends. We were as opposite as two people can be, we were both as strong-headed as they come, we believed completely different things, voted in completely different parties.... and we were almost inseparable. Our husbands were close friends and our babies were BFF's.
Over time and distance, she and I drifted apart. I never wanted that to happen (I really doubt she did, either)... but it did.
Those things, those families, seem to be harder and harder to find.
I grew the most as a woman and as a friend during that year and a half that we had together. I left Kansas with life-long fiends, even though she and I aren't close anymore... there are others' :-). She challenged me to be better. She pushed me to try harder. She encouraged me to change myself for the better. She knew my insecurities and fears and she never made me feel ridiculous for them.... but she was going to make sure I overcame them.
But I'll never forget what she said to me one of the very first times we chatted while our babies played....
"I'm so glad I met you when I did because I was only one or two friends away from declining any more friendship applications. I have enough of them!"
I knew she was just being funny and I thought it was hilarious at the time...
At the time I was happy to have made it into her 'circle'.... I was happy to have been 'accepted' as her friend.
I wish 'life' hadn't happened in that friendship.
I know it's been a while since my last post; partly because we've had a lot of huge life changes and happenings, including moving (again!), weddings (yes, plural), and even a few adoption-related 'happenings'.... I guess 'life' has happened lately.
Can I be honest?
(Of course I can... it's MY blog ;-))
I don't think I always 'do life' well.
You see, I'm a 'tough girl'. Sure, there are times when I wear my heart on my sleeve but I am extremely selective in who I do that with. I've thought a lot about this part of me.... maybe it's a strength, maybe it's a weakness... maybe it depends on the week. My friend in Kansas... the one I lost.... she sparked in me the desire to know why I shield myself and my emotions from people who love me.
Is it fear of getting hurt? Fear of trusting? Pride? A control issue?
For me, it's the fear of being vulnerable.
Of being judged?
(Yes, friends.... I, Lindsay, owner and writer of this blog, is afraid to be vulnerable. HA!)
Let me clarify...
For me, it's the fear of being vulnerable FACE to FACE with someone whom I might see in the next day or two... or three... or four.... or.....ever.
The past few weeks have tested my ability to be vulnerable like never before. I've had to admit that sometimes life is too tough. I've had to acknowledge that, while i might look back on a week and see that it was good, my day-to-day is pretty tough. I've pushed myself to my limit and I've had no choice but to be transparent and I have struggled with feeling weak and like a failure and ungrateful and distracted and ... the list goes on.
Have you struggled with infertility? At ANY level?
Have you experienced any part of the adoption process?
Maybe you've gone through a divorce...
Maybe you were fired...
Or maybe you're sick...
Then you know what I'm talking about.
I have been challenged and pushed and stretched beyond what I ever thought I could handle and here's the thing...
I wouldn't change it for the world.
(You know the saying, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle?" I have news for you... HE DOES! And then he gives you the resources to figure it out ;-))
Those feelings don't mean that you're not happy. That you don't like your life. Not even close!
Is it hard? yes.
Do I want to quit sometimes? yes.
Have I handled myself poorly? yes.
Do I act more like a child sometimes than my own 3 year old? yes.
But out of it all, I have learned to be vulnerable.
In Real Life.
Face to face.
I've taken so much time lately rehashing certain parts of my life; friendships, marriage, infertility, adoption, job changes, moves, illness, family challenges and I can now see how God used every relationship and every circumstance and every tear and every sleepless night...
To get me to where I am today.
Yes. At times I feel stressed and stretched and challenged and overwhelmed and inadequate.
But I'm here. With the family I prayed so long for.
And there's no where else I'd rather be.
In fact... I would do all of it over again just to get here.... again.
(I hate it when people say that. FYI. What does it even MEAN when someone says, "have a blessed day?" Like it's YOUR choice! Ok ok... done with my little rant ;-) )
In the past few weeks of feeling overwhelmed and inadequate and stressed and on the verge of who-knows-what, I have learned that I am loved. I have family who listens and who don't judge but who know how hard it is for me to be vulnerable and they encourage me to keep it up. I have AMAZING friends who know how hard it is for me to ask for help... so they don't ask; they just DO. I have everything I've ever wanted...
And so much more.
So a bad day? Or a bad week? Or even a bad year and a half of waiting for Baby Number 2 isn't really all that bad...
If it gets me to where I am.
Or if it gets me to where I'm going to BE.
When was the last time you were truly vulnerable? If you're like me and the thought alone makes you sick, just pick a place to start; email a friend, write in your journal, leave an anonymous comment here, call a friend or family member who isn't part of your daily life. Tell someone about your negative pregnancy test, or about how angry you are at your body, or how hurt you are by someone's disloyalty, or when someone asks you, "How are you doing?", TELL them! Sometimes it's ok to say, "I'm NOT ok."
And then when you're done, ask them the same. I promise they won't say, "I'm good!" ;-)
I've leaned that if I'm vulnerable with a friend/family member I truly trust, they each have a wealth of knowledge to offer me... and always at the perfect time! I have some smart friends ;-)
I've also learned so much lately about the power of transparency... it's not only healthy for YOU but it shows others' who you really are; chances are, they know the 'good' side of you pretty well... let them see the 'other' side. The side that needs people.
I had a serious conversation with myself today and I wondered what the Bible had to say about being vulnerable. One verse came to mind and to me, it sets the perfect example for us of how to be vulnerable....
~ John 11:25