Making friends is tough. It takes time, trust, and a little bit of luck. Thanks to Facebook, the word ‘friend’ has taken on a new meaning. What was once reserved to describe special people in our life, is now used to describe just about everyone in our life. But, do all of these people live up to the definition of a true friend? Or, are they merely acquaintances from which we expect so much more?
“If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands, if you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”
Thinking about this song brings back joyous memories of dancing around my family room singing it with my children and perhaps, even having it sung to me as a child. The lyrics are simple and yet so profound – if you’re happy and you know it, show it (feel it, live it, experience it).
This past weekend I tried something that I had never done before. One of my friends invited me to a Tarot card party where an expert would offer private readings. Intrigued, I agreed to attend. During my reading, the woman said something that really struck a nerve with me; she told me that I don’t know when I’m happy.
Interestingly, this thought has been on my mind ever since I interviewed Dr. Rick Hanson, the author of Hardwiring Happiness. As a result of our discussion, I have been contemplating whether or not I truly feel happiness.
Recently, a friend who was contemplating separating from her husband gave me a call and asked my advice. A few years ago when my emotions were spinning out of control and I was in the throes of my marriage breakdown, I would have shouted, “Divorce the bastard!”
Now, six years post-divorce, I have gotten off the emotional rollercoaster called relationship breakdown and a cooler head prevails. My advice to her: slow down, you move too fast!
I was watching television recently when it happened … I saw the first commercial for the Valentine’s Day diamond collection – you know, the gift that every woman will treasure. As I listened to the music and watched as the camera panned the romantic setting, waves of emotion overcame me like a tsunami. At that moment, in my mind, everyone in the world was in a loving, committed relationship and I was going to be the only person sitting home alone on February 14 (most likely eating ice cream).
Realistic assumption? Of course not. But for a few minutes the drama queen in me took over and my emotions ran wild. Fortunately, I was able to reign them in, but the feelings I experienced are very common.
Waking up to reports of people being gunned down while enjoying a night out sickens me. It sickens me like every other horrific, tragic story we have heard before.
I don’t understand what is happening; it seems like our world is upside down. I don’t pretend to have the answers. I don’t how we got here, but we have arrived. All I do know is that we must do what is within our power to enact change, even if it is only within our small piece of the world.
I recently learned that my ex husband got engaged. After living for more than three decades with this man in my life, I must admit, hearing this news was a punch in the gut. I spent the next two days with a horrible feeling surrounding me, you know that uneasiness you get in your stomach after someone close passes away? My body was on edge, I shook inside, and could not shed the anxiousness of impending doom. Even with all of the horrific things that transpired between us, I had an emotional reaction to his engagement.
I’m not really sure why I felt the way I did. I knew he was dating someone exclusively and we haven’t been part of each other’s lives for six years (as he severed all ties when he met her), and yet, I felt a tremendous sense of loss. Loss of the life we were supposed to live, loss of the family I so desperately wanted, loss of many dreams.
I thought I had grieved the divorce and moved on, my life is on a wonderful trajectory and I’m happy, but, there I was again, right in the middle of the pain. Divorce truly is the gift that just keeps giving!
February is the month of the heart, the time when we celebrate love. We buy chocolate, flowers, jewelry, and greeting cards to profess our undying love to that special someone. But, in all the hoopla of the season, perhaps we forget to honor the affection provided by the people that sustain us and enable us to thrive – our friends.
We hear so much about marriages, committed relationships, and romantic breakups, but I believe we neglect to truly understand the dynamics of what may be the most important relationships in our life – friendships.
This time of year, from Thanksgiving through the New Year celebration, is a season that provides for us the opportunity to stop our busy lives for a moment and give thanks for our many gifts and blessings; it’s a time of birth and renewal. No matter what your religion or belief structure, it’s a time when we can come together and celebrate new beginnings.
Often, however, we get so caught up in the festivities that we forget the true meaning of the season; we are so involved in getting everything done, that we miss the message. We may be more cognizant of this fact during the holiday season, but in reality many of us miss the message every day, all year long. We spend so much time worrying about ourselves, fulfilling expectations, and striving to get ahead, that we forget that we are here to love others unselfishly and to help those less fortunate.
Recently, my beloved dog, Ginger, passed away. One day she appeared fine and the next we were being told that we needed to “make a decision.”
Ginger lived with us for seven years. She was a foster dog and her first three years of life were painful. She was shuffled from one home to the next, never finding anyone who was willing to give her a permanent residence. If you knew her, you’d wonder why this was the case. She had a kind, gentle soul and wanted nothing more than to please. Looking back, I guess she was waiting for me.
Are you a giver? I am. I’ll do anything possible for anyone, any time. I have spent most of my life taking care of others, putting myself second, and sometimes, third, fourth or fifth. After many years, I found myself feeling hurt, rejected, used, and resentful. I created an unhealthy pattern for my life, for which I have paid the price.
While it is important to take care of others, it is equally important to understand your motivation. I thought it was my way of expressing love and affection. What I have come to learn is that, while part of it was from love, another part was my need to be accepted and loved. I was trying to make others care for me, so I gave to them and worked hard to please them.
The problem with my M.O. is that I was coming from a place of insecurity and low self worth. I was trying, in essence, to buy affection.
With the right people, the approach may work out as they are giving as much as you. But, with the wrong people, you will be left feeling alone, depleted, and even more insecure.