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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

I sat at my desk, head down, long hair hiding my face.  On the blue folder in front of me, in Catholic-school cursive, I wrote the word miserable over and over again, covering the folder in a graphite cri de couer, addressed to no one in particular.

I was in the 8th grade, and my best friend had—as I saw it–abandoned me.  The visceral memory of those friendless days still hurts, decades later.  Being friendless in grade school meant being picked last in gym class, going partnerless for class room activities, sitting alone at lunch.

I’d enjoyed the company of a succession of what they now call BFFs from the time I started Montessori school at three until that point.  I’d counted on having that one person who liked me best.  After that heartbreaking half year (until high school began and I landed in a close circle of friends), I never wanted to feel loneliness like that again.

Read the rest at Everyday Ediths!

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I used to walk into a room full of people and wonder if they liked me… now I look around and wonder if I like them.Rikkie GaleMost of us want to be liked, right?  It’s human nature, isn’t it, to crave acceptance, to want to be part of a tribe?  But worrying about whether people like you can be debilitating.  And it’s downright unhealthy if you let your desire to be liked trump your integrity.

My  first job out of college, my supervisor (who was a deeply troubled woman) did not like me.  In fact, she hated me, and I came to hate her.  It was a terrible situation (that I, in my immaturity, probably made worse), but I think one of the things that made it so bad for me at that time is that I wasn’t used to people not liking me.  I don’t mean that I had been the most popular person around, or that I had huge numbers of friends, but I was used to people thinking I was a nice person.  I did not know how to handle not being liked.

Well, that was almost 26 years ago (ACK!) and there have been a few people who disliked me in the intervening years.  Probably more than a few.  But I made a statement a few years ago that I will stand by today: “I don’t care who likes me as long as *I* like me.”

That is a bold statement.  And it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t sting a little when I feel misunderstood or left out.  It does mean that I will not change myself to win friends and influence people.  I have strong beliefs; sometimes I feel the need to share them, and I ALWAYS feel the need to live by them.  I have kids who I have to advocate for.  I sometimes have to take unpopular positions in my own home.  I have discovered that staying true to myself and what I believe is more important than being popular.

I’m linking up with #WorthRevisit  this week  Visit the hosts Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb, and check out the linkup for great posts you might have missed the first time around.

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Twenty-seven years ago (ACK!!), I moved into my first apartment at Georgetown with three classmates.  It was like playing house–walking to Safeway to buy groceries, making Quick Corn Light Bread from my mother’s recipe, using the carpet sweeper, fighting over whose turn it was to buy toilet paper, throwing dinner parties.  We had so much fun.  And of course it seems like it all happened yesterday.

But here’s what ACTUALLY happened yesterday: yesterday morning, I received a Facebook message from one of my former housemates.  She was coming to Knoxville to speak at the University and wondered if I’d have time to get together.

Sometimes spontaneous fun is the best kind.  We didn’t have much time to plan, but we made it happen.  John and I went to her event, and then we went out to eat and drink and reminisce.

I had not seen Crystal in almost twenty years, when she met us at a friend’s home in Northern Virginia for a couple of hours.  My last visual memory was of her sitting on the sofa with my two kids crawling all over her.  And honestly I was a little nervous about seeing her again.  Because you can never be sure what it will be like to be with someone you haven’t known in so long.  And I was also nervous about attending her speech. 

You see, Crystal Wright is kind of famous!  She writes a popular blog, she makes regular appearances on television, and she has over 36,000 Twitter followers!   She was at UT to talk to the Issues Committee about race and the Republican party, and especially about her own experiences of being a Conservative black woman.

Now y’all have figured out by now that I’m not a Republican, right?  I’ve read some of Crystal’s tweets and I’ve disagreed with a lot of what I read.  Crystal was always a person of strong opinions. but we just didn’t do a whole lot of talking about politics in Village B 88 back in the day.  We were too busy watching Moonlighting, doing aerobics to the Jane Fonda cassette, and licking spilled champagne off the kitchen counter because who would want it to go to waste?

So I’d been a little surprised by Crystal’s vehement views and wondered if our differences would affect our friendship.

I shouldn’t have worried.  I actually enjoyed listening to the talk, especially when the kids asked questions afterwards.  (Crystal told us at dinner that she was very impressed by the intelligence of the UT students she met!)  She talked a lot about the failure of the GOP to engage minorities and what they should do to change that.  She explained the genesis of her own political beliefs.  She gave me some new ideas to think about.

We started talking while we waited for John to retrieve the car from where we’d illegally parked it and never stopped.  There was no awkwardness as we talked not just about old times but about politics and principles and what our lives are like now.  Memory is funny–there were things I remembered clearly that she had forgotten and vice-versa.  We were housemates during a pivotal year–it was the year I started dating my husband and as Crystal said last night “There was a lot of drama.”   

Crystal lives in D.C. and when we go there in May for the Georgetown Reunion we are going to go hang out on her deck and drink wine and talk some more.  Maybe I will bring a bottle of peach Riunite so we can relive one of our college adventures.

I wanted to share a picture of us back in the day but y’all know what happened to my pictures.  This one is the clearest one I have–Crystal is on top, with me at the bottom and Renee in between.  Christine, the fourth housemate, must have been taking the picture!  But as I look at the photograph of one happy moment in time, with rainbow swirls and smudges around the edges, imperfections and distortions, I realize the fire turned the picture into a metaphor.

crystal pic.1

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“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18

I first encountered that quotation as a child when reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.  Corrie and her sister Betsie have been imprisoned in a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their Amsterdam home.  One day Betsie reads this Bible verse and declares that she and Corrie are going to thank God for everything about the situation they find themselves in, like the fact that they have been assigned together, that there was no inspection so that they retained the Bible, even the crowded condition of the barracks which will mean more women with whom to share God’s word.  But when Betsie starts giving thanks for the fleas in the barracks, Corrie objects: “Not even God can make me grateful for a flea!”  Her sister reminds her that the words were “give thanks in ALL circumstances,” not just in pleasant ones, and adds that “fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”

Betsie’s faith is justified when the soldiers who routinely rape the women in the other barracks avoid their unit because of the fleas.

I haven’t reached the point yet of thanking God that our house burned down.  Maybe I will someday.  But for now it is enough to recognize some of the very real blessings that would never have come our way otherwise.  Today I am thinking about the blessings of friendship.

I think of a couple at church who were barely acquaintances before and became our friends because they offered us office space to use until we found somewhere else to live and work.  I think of a friend whom I had not talked to in a while, and his wife whom I had met only once, who went above and beyond with gifts and time and financial assistance and concern.  I think of people whom I knew at our kids’ schools, especially football parents, whose kindness and support has bridged my innate shyness to make me feel closer to them.  I think of my new next door neighbor, whom I would never have met if I had not moved here, and the book club she invited me to be a part of, and the many fun evenings I have spent in her company.

And I think of YOU, my dear online friends, especially those in the blogging world.  Because the fire made me blog more–I HAD to write, to process this experience:  I am still processing it, obviously.  And I don’t think I would have become as involved in these online communities if it had not been for the fire.  Being online was a comforting refuge, something familiar and safe when things were strange.

I love this month of Thanksgiving, and the challenge that so many of us strive to meet to post on Facebook each day something to be thankful for.  It can be life-changing to realize that no matter how bad things seem there is always, always something to be thankful for.

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The popularity of Facebook has made the concept of community-building via the internet commonplace. But for most of us, our Facebook friends are people we know in real life, even if we haven’t seen them in a long time or do not know them very well. The idea of building a community of people you have never met and probably never will is still a strange one to some people.

I’m thinking about online communities right now because of what I have been witnessing on my friend Katie’s Facebook Wall and in the comments on her blog since she asked everyone to pray for her gravely injured son. Hundreds of people, many who know her only through her writing, have been checking in daily, grieving, praying, rejoicing. Many of the people in her online community have mentioned that they have known her through parenting newsgroups for over 12 years, and that they participated in another prayer vigil for her, when her other son, then a newborn, was ill.

To me, that is powerful, and community is good wherever we find it. It would never have occurred to me to look for community online, but it happened for me too. My first online home was in the X-Files fandom, many long years ago now. And although most of our interaction concerned the show and the fanfiction we were writing for it, it grew personal over time. Several times, regular posters lost loved ones, and all of us supported them in these losses. When I was expecting William in 2001, some of my XF buddies held an online “Blessing Way,” for us, sending me poetry, pictures, and other well wishes.

I grew involved in pregnancy and breastfeeding newsgroups at that time as well. I had a special affinity for many of the women I “met” there and really considered them to be friends at that time. I still think about many of them and miss them, and have kept in touch with a couple. [Edit: One of them took the initiative to form a Facebook group for us and we have all reunited there!] We followed each other’s pregnancies closely, checking in anxiously when someone was due, and looking forward to the birth story. We offered advice and and encouragement. When William’s birth hit  first the local and then the national news, I received probably 100 messages of congratulations from my online friends. When Lorelei was diagnosed with failure to thrive, my friends on the newsgroup were an unfailing and understanding source of support. In short, we did all the things that “real life” friends do for one another.

A virtual community may not be quite the same as a “real life” one, but that’s no reason to diminish it. Friends are friends–people who care about you, even if you’ve never met.

Have you ever been part of an online community? Would you like to be?

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