Thursday, August 20, 2009

There is a person who drops into my life occasionally. There was a time when they were an integral part of my life, someone who was there, giving support and encouragement every day. But then things changed and they were no longer around--something that brought a great deal of pain to us both.

It has been years since then, yet on occasion, they appear again, filling up my heart and soul like rain on a parched ground. I try to enjoy the visit, holding my breath out of fear of them leaving again. And just when I think they will stay, and I relax and let my breath out and start to breathe again, they are gone.

Today is one of those days.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I am 46, so why am I going through High School Drama?

I have high school aged daughters who have suffered and will probably suffer again through the social drama of high school. One day my daughters and their friends get along and the next day one of them is the outcast, the social pariah. I sometimes have wondered why they can't just all get along and be nice to each other.

Yet, here I am, 46 years old and caught up in a high school drama of my own.

We moved to a new home seven years ago. We immediately made new friends, who I have loved and enjoyed dearly. They have been a lot of fun, and some of the best friends I have had over the course of my life. I have loved being with them so much that I lost 30 pounds without even trying. Who would have thought that happiness and social contentment would be the best diet!

Yet about a year ago a new family moved into the ward. The woman was young and cute, fun and spunky and had a social plan. She decided who her new friends would be and then set out to earn their friendship. The friends she chose, just happened to be the ones I am friends with. She immediately started inviting them over to everything, dropping by their house all the time, being always available to run their errands, take their kids to movies etc. She also found out who our friends were in other wards and began socializing with them as well.

I am always open to new friends and appreciate new friendships, but this woman has not been interested in being my friend, she just wants to be friends with the people I am best friends with. And she does not want me coming along. (But she loves telling me all about the things she does with them)

At first my friends were loyal to me. They told me they knew what she was doing and wasn't going to let her do that to me, but over the course of the past year, and in particular the past few months, that has changed. Since Sarah (the new lady--but not her real name) is the one doing most of the inviting and organizing, my friends have become fearful of being left out of the social circle and so I have become the sacrificial lamb. At the risk of losing her friendship, they were willing to sacrifice mine.

In the past I have been the one organizing the parties but that has changed. When many activities were planned that I wasn't invited to, I stopped having parties since I didn't want to feel rejected when I found out everyone I knew was going somewhere else. And so I have shed a lot of lonely tears of late. I have loved these women, and their families. I have celebrated all their birthdays, gone on vacations with them, helped them through surgeries and new babies and now I have to admit, I feel a bit betrayed. Especially when my birthday came and the woman I would call my very best friend (Leanne) just sent me an email and said she was sorry she couldn't do anything for my birthday but she didn't have the time. Super Ouch.

I have still tried very hard to preserve my friendships with them. I call them, bring them lunch, watch their kids. But last week I learned they are going on a weekend trip together and yesterday I was told they are all getting together tonight for a Fourth of July celebration-that Leanne planned and is hosting. I guess officially, I am the social pariah.

I spent a lot of time last night crying. I wanted to invite at least one of the families over for a celebration but somehow in my heart I knew they would be getting together so I didn't want to offer the invitation just to be turned down. But one of them sent me an email telling me all about their plans and how much fun they were going to have. (I think she is just naive, not unkind as she has been the nicest to me out of all of them)

But when I learned that Leanne planned the party and excluded us, I knew it was time to move on. I first allowed myself a night to cry, but this morning I decided it was time for me to declare my independence. (After all it is July 4!). I am no longer going to cry, feel sad and grovel (as my husband says I have been doing). I am no longer going to be a victim of their behavior. I am going proactive. There just has to be other people out there my husband and I can become friends with--people who are just as much fun. (My husband is being excluded as well as the husbands of my friends have been his best friends) And in the meantime, until I find them, I will devote myself to serving others and praying that the Lord in his mercy will send me some new friends.

It so very much breaks my heart to think I am giving up on people who I have loved so dearly and who have been such an important part of my life, but friendship cannot be so one sided. And so--"when in the course of human events . . . " I declare my independence! I am moving on!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Overcoming Old Regrets

My mind these past few days has been on regrets. When I sit down and think about it, I have a few of them--like I wish I had applied myself more in college so I would have finished before getting married and having kids. But for the most part, I have accepted life as it came, adjusted and moved happily on.

Except for one thing. I made a choice a few years back that was the wrong one. I knew it at the time, but even with that knowledge I made it. I felt whatever pain it would cause me later would be worth it in the end, and so with complete knowledge, I moved forward. What I hadn't considered was the pain my choice would cause others. And in reality, I had no idea how much pain it would cause me. It really ended up shaking my world to the very core, and now several years later, just when I think things will get back to normal and life will move on, it rears its ugly head, pierces my heart, and everything around me comes crashing down.

My biggest problem, I believe is that I haven't been ready to leave it behind me and those I hurt the most can't get over it either. We all desperately cling to our individual pain, while our hearts harden and life gets bitter.

I have wished for years to go back in time and choose another path. I have yearned for that, cried for it, ached for it. But then yesterday a thought came to me that was a little liberating.

The thought was that my life is what it is, and there is nothing I can do to change the past. I made a bad choice. However, just because I can't change that, does not mean I can't change the impact the choice will have on me. I will never have things the way I would like them, there are certain people I love dearly who I will never be able to be close with again. That is not a reality for me now. But I can choose to be angry, and unhappy, or I can choose to be kind, loving and supportive. I had a friend once say to me, "You don't have to be miserable unless you like being that way." I think that is true. But sometimes it is hard to climb out of the deep pit of misery and enjoy the sunshine again.

So, my thought is this. Life is what it is. You can't change the past, but you can influence the future. If you have been unkind in the past, be nice. If you have been untrustworthy, change. Our future is what we make it.