This is something I've been developing since April 2009. More to come... For now:
My friends, my partner--several members of my family.
...the people who listened for hours upon hours when I lost my first love. I mean, HOURS.
...the friend who played tennis with me in blistering hot weather.
...the friend and colleague who helped me pack up boxes and drive me home when I was asked to leave a job I loved.
...the people who welcomed me back with open hearts, arms and minds---after not being in touch for over 6 years.
Much of my identity is built firmly upon friendships and relationships I formed since the age of 22--when I felt like my eyes were opened. I recently returned to NJ to visit those friends, say goodbye to two of them who are moving out of the country, and spend precious time with another one who has been so influential in my cognitive and emotional development these past 8 years.
I returned "home", different in so many ways, but unchanged as well.
I found myself looking people in the eye more, and smiling, and making decisions based on my needs. I shared from my heart. I asked them about their lives. I created space. I listened.
I cried. Several times.
I hugged. I was hugged.
I was thanked. I was praised. I confessed. I purged.
I got validation that I've needed and wanted from people who heard a snippet of a painful story--but a snippet was all they needed to hear to be in my corner. Because they have known and loved me for so long.
How could two days be so meaningful? How could two days be so restorative and transformative?
I have learned something simple yet so complex in these recent two years---that your friends are like your food. You can seek out a good friend like you can healthy, nourishing food---as simply as you can surround yourself with people who feed you as much as a lump of sugar. Satisfying? Merely. Hardly.
Do you have friends like this? Do you find yourself filled to the brim with tears---in a good or bad way---after parting from their presence?
I have learned to be more discerning these past few years---and in going back "home" I realized that true friendship doesn't happen overnight and when you have it, you should treasure it.
I will be investing more time and energy into these precious friendships now and in the future.
Upon watching my beautiful friend Amy play the guitar, now pregnant with the baby we spoke about many years ago in our young adulthood, I had an epiphany. Amy is one of a few people with whom I credit the profound transformation I've undergone these past 10 years. Amy was there from the beginning---she was one of the first people I came out to. She is selfless, open, loving, patient, grateful and wise. She always has been since the day we met in 2001, when I was sitting in a cafe grading papers.
Upon moving away from her presence geographically in 2006, I also moved away from it emotionally. I distanced myself from someone so precious for too many years because I didn't value my own worth enough to allow her love into my heart and my life. I had been depriving myself of the very "food" of friendship that I craved. Ironic? Self-sabotage? Or just simply my journey.
I sat Amy down and shared my epiphany. I thanked her for her gift of selfless love. I wished her many happy days and weeks and months ahead during her exciting move with her beloved husband.
It felt good to experience the nutrition I'd been avoiding, the way we push broccoli around our plate as kids (or adults) but go for the fries. It felt good to take it in. To be thankful for it.
I have incredible, life-giving, soul-sustaining, supportive, deep, introspective friends.
I am grateful to (re)invite them into my life again, renewed, to nourish me and fulfill me---as I watch my sugar cravings dissipate, my hunger for any food be lessened---
for my heart is full once again.