It's a scary thing to open your heart and life to other people. In order to have any type of meaningful relationships you have to expose yourself. For some reason, I've always jumped headfirst into friendships. Basically if you gave me the time of day, I thought you were my best friend. Almost becoming obsessed with you, I would gradually get to know you better and then realize we aren't kindred spirits I thought we were.
Over the years and many friends later, I started to close myself off a little. Not wanting to invest unless it was safe. And, safe meant you wouldn't leave, or wouldn't hurt me. Shocker...life happens and friends move away, or the relationship drifts apart for whatever reason.
It's in these waters that I found myself moving almost 3,000 miles from everything I ever knew. To a new city. The thrill of no one knowing me was almost intoxicating. I could reinvent myself. No one had to know anything I didn't tell them. I could be a new me; One that was funny, not so serious, or wasn't a burden. These are things people had told me in the past.
So, here I was in a new city in a brand new stage of life: pregnant. About to enter the greatest unknown called motherhood. Friends are needed in times like this. I got a little brave.
Everyone I was meeting seemed to have moved from somewhere else too. That's the funny thing about Raleigh. It's a city full of transplants. There are so few native Raleigh-ites (or North Carolinians) that it's surprising when you meet one. When we moved here nearly 3 years ago, a whole bunch of other people did too. We had this in common; we had left the familiar for an adventure into unchartered territory.
So, I opened up. I had to.
We had 5 things we needed: a healthy baby, jobs, a place to live, medical insurance, and a second car. These were serious needs. The one thing I didn't know I needed was humility. I got that when we moved here. I found out it's a SLAP to your pride to sit in a social services office and apply for food stamps. It's even more of a slap to apply and get those food vouchers. And then to need to use them. At a store. Where other people can see you.
But, boy does it help you to gain a little compassion for others. It causes you (I mean me) to realize other people aren't just (fill in the blank), they might be down on their luck too. Trying as hard as they can. This is where a friend can come in and pick you up.
I can't remember everything that was said to us during this time, but I do remember one friend who was always there; listening to me. She never judged. She didn't need to walk through the same experience I was going through in order to have compassion and not pass judgement on me. She graciously asked how I was and gave me that look of I really want to know and you're safe to tell me. Time went on and this friend became closer and closer.
She was there with me as I was crying when I didn't have my family in town to help welcome our brand new baby. She sat on the bed saying I was brave and she didn't know how I was doing it. She would bring over the most delicious food cause it had the secret ingredient of love in it.
It's been 3 years since I've known her and this week she moves back to the West Coast. There's part of me that doesn't want to open up to anyone again because maybe that person might move away too. But, there is no life in being closed off. I know that you can still be friends even if LOTS of miles separate you, and be grateful about how amazing it was to enjoy their physical presence. It is a gift to give someone your time and heart, and to have theirs too.
Here's the thing though, when my friend gets on an airplane this week and says, "See you soon" I'll always have those feelings and memories to look back on and no amount of mileage can take that away.
She gave me a gift of seeing me and accepting me that's making me feel brave to open up again. To not be worried how the relationship might go. To try and be vulnerable again. To keep investing in relationships even though I don't know where the road will take us.
I'm so glad I was brave enough to share how I was really doing when she asked me.