When I was a young girl around 11, my best friend moved away. I was crushed.
I didn’t understand and felt so sad and alone.
My Mother didn’t really help me understand the situation or help me deal with the sadness.
I had allowed myself to get close to someone and got hurt.
It wasn’t intentional on her part; but, I was hurt.
I did not understand why she was leaving and why I was hurting.
And it affected my relationships during middle school and throughout high school.
I didn’t want to risk being hurt again by letting people get close to me.
I knew a log of people; but, they were mostly superficial relationships or watching from afar.
I kept to myself a lot and I was painfully shy. I was more comfortable reading books than with people.
Impact of Early Relationships
The quality of our early relationships influence the quality and comfort we have in relationships over our lifetime.
What I know today, is that pain can be the price we pay for being vulnerable. We allow ourselves to get close to someone, to get to know them and to allow them to know us.
And in being open to closeness, we also open ourselves up to the possibility of being hurt.
I remember feeling left out and alone for a good portion of my life. I thought there was something wrong with me.
Searching for Answers
As a result, I went in search of answers.
I did a lot of work in this area, soul searching, journaling and even spending time with a therapist trying to understand why I felt there was something missing from my life, from me.
Somehow and at some point after all that work, my trust in other people returned. And I allowed them to get close.
I allowed myself to love, to love myself, and to be loved.
Trust and love are so important as it allows us to make close friends and to create meaningful and loving, intimate relationships.
Having Close Friends Today
Recently, three long time friends, that I’ve know anywhere from 15 to 30 years, made life decisions and moved hundreds of miles away.
Once again, I felt sad because I allowed myself to get close to people.
We had spent time together at parties, gone to the movies, had dinner together and traveled with each other.
We shared good times and bad.
In general, we had great times together, we laughed and cried together.
And when they began to talk about moving closer to their grandchildren, retiring closer to family or where the cost of living was lower, I was able to be fully present and support them.
I supported them in their evaluation, packing and good-bye processes. I did not run away and hide.
Yes, I am sad. I will miss them.
I will miss them even in this world of enhanced communication through social media and video conferencing.
There is nothing like sitting down over dinner, talking about the good stuff and the not so good stuff. Then sharing a hug of celebration or love and understanding.
While I am no longer that child who did not understand, I allowed myself to feel the sadness and to also feel the joy of sharing life with other people.
I am sad. I have a hole in my heart and my local pack is missing members.
But, my life is richer for having spent the time with these three friends and to enjoy the time we shared.
I know I can reach out and touch them them, to continue to enrich our relationships, despite the physical distance.
Making New Friends
I also know that if I don’t allow myself to be open to creating new friends, I will remain sad and isolated with a huge hole in my life.
So, now I’m turning it over to God, to the Universe and allowing new people to come into my life.
To allow new experiences to create additional richness, in an already rich life.
Nothing will replace the spot my friends had; but, I have love enough for others.
Being vulnerable can be one of the most joyous experiences and it can be one of the most painful.
As we mature, our experience with vulnerability can make the difference in having truly satisfying relationships and having emotional intimacy with others.
Or, we can be alone and distant, never allowing anyone to get close.
Sharing the Risk
Yes, it is risky to open ourselves up; but, that can make the difference in whether we allow ourselves to fall in love, to be loved or not.
In have a rich life full of people, of great relationships, or always feeling something is missing.
This being vulnerable is not easy; it is risky. It is not for sissies!
Yet the rewards are huge. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and allowing others to get close to you can make the difference in whether you are happy or always feeling you are on the outside looking in.
And when you have been hurt, you do need to heal. As strange as it sounds, that becomes an opportunity to be vulnerable, to allow others to support you in your healing process.
There is the saying: “that a hurt shared is halved, a joy shared is doubled.” These are additional benefits of being vulnerable.
Sometimes you swear you simply don’t need people; and yet, just look at what you would miss: love, support, joy, friends and lovers.
Helping our Children
We also need to be sensitive to the needs of our children and our grandchildren, when they have friends or family, who leave for any reason.
We need to take the time to help them understand loss is part of friendship, it is part of life.
That feeling sad, feeling left behind and alone are feelings that are normal in the situation.
And while they may not believe it, they will heal in time. Not forget, but heal.
They can be open to making new friends, because, who know when that lifetime friendship will begin.
Is it worth the risk to be vulnerable? I think so. What about you?
If you aren’t as certain and want to talk about it, contact me at [email protected].
Until next time…