I’m not special. And boy, is that so very hard for me to admit. Everyone has a journey of self-discovery and continuing improvement is often slow. But sometimes, the change comes in quick bursts… in epiphany moments. Which is what happened to me one night at a Halloween party; the night I allowed my friends to change my life. Things have never been the same.
If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety or depression (which usually go hand in hand) it’s hard to figure out at what moment you first experienced sad feelings. I’ve often asked myself was I a misanthrope as a child? Was I born this way? The answer is complex. My struggle is far less difficult than many people’s and in many respects, I was a joyful child. But, I distinctly remember feeling hyper-aware of whether or not I was included– whether or not I was needed or wanted by friends.
Wherever the damage came from, I learned to create a story in my head. This story usually went somewhere along the lines of “So and so doesn’t like me because…” or “They like me now but won’t like me if…” “This person would only like me more if…”
Truth be told, I spent so many years wondering if someone liked me…questioning their friendship, agonizing over my misgivings or perceived misgivings that I stunted my ability to receive that friendship and return it.
I’ve been more than fortunate to have met a man who loved me enough to give me a wake-up call. My now husband Dan, several years back, made it clear that something needed to change. I knew he was right. I had experienced sadness, but this time I was angry. Angry that so much time had passed by and I had not much to show for it, that I put in my near thirty years but so far I hadn’t become…the next Oprah or Meryl Streep (delusions of grandeur, much?).
So, I restarted the slow and continuing process of working on myself. I sought professional help and started making productive choices. Slowly, the clouds faded away and increasingly I was able to see what was right in front of me. The truth as opposed to the running dialogue in my head which often lied to me.
That brings me to that fateful Halloween night. We were at a friends’ party. These were friends of ours for many years. I’m not sure if it was the full moon or someone spiked the candy corn, but I noticed when Amber and Kelly came in-they were happy to see me.
As we left, I kept saying to Dan “Amber and Kelly were really happy to see me, I wonder why?” Then it hit me. They had always been happy to see me. I just never let it in. I was always nice, but never fully accepted friendship. I was so caught up in the story I was telling myself, that I couldn’t hear the story others were trying to tell me…to write with me. That they liked me. They really, really liked me. Now I knew how Sally Field felt when accepting her Oscar.
The story I was telling myself was that “Amber really doesn’t want to be my friend because__ and that prevented me from accepting her friendship.
With this realization, my life has been so much more joyful. I still have my doubts and fears but am too busy rediscovering the people who were already there and nurturing new friendships to go back.
Friends are the co-authors of our lives. We have to put our pens down, remove our hands from the keyboard and let them write their love into our story.