“Fear makes strangers of those who would be friends.” -Shirley MacLaine
For a long time, I kept my social circle small because it felt safe and controllable, but I’ve learned that the best things in life are rarely either of those things.
Only when we let our guards down can we let people touch us, stretch us, and change our lives for the better.
And you never know who might do that.
That acquaintance who you don’t fully understand may be someone who is dealing with the same exact struggles you face, just waiting to receive and give support. That stranger who has different beliefs may have an entirely different way but the exact same will.
We really aren’t all that different, and if we choose to, we can touch and be touched by countless people all throughout our lives.
Today if you find yourself shutting down around new people, remember how good it feels when someone smiles at you. Then give that feeling to them. Nothing creates possibilities like the choice to open up to them.
I have found friends in the most unexpected places - and they have SAVED me. (In fact, it was a close friend who pointed me to Tiny Buddha, which I am now Following and love.)
I like the way this quote - about fear keeping people from becoming friends, and Lori's article about wanting to keep one's circle of friends small and controllable, relates to all or-nothing-thinking.
As a teenager, I used to think that a friend was somebody you could always count on, no matter what. Somebody who would drop everything in their own life (of course, as teenagers we thought we had soooo many responsibilities to drop, lol!) and come rushing to your side if you were in trouble. But the reality is, nobody can be everything to us at all times. Even the best of friends have other calls on their time, energy and emotions, and that's okay.
A few years ago, while I was going through the worst turmoil over my OCPD then-boyfriend, my dear (Tiny Buddha) friend was losing her husband to a terminal illness. We were still in touch, but I wasn't supporting her on a daily basis, nor was she supporting me in that way. Betrayal, by either of us? Hardly.
Since then, we've been very supportive of each other, but the fact remains, at least at this time, I can't fully empathize with what it feels like to lose one's beloved soulmate to a horrible disease. (And not to be terribly selfish, but I'm hoping I never can.) She needs other friends, not just me, people who can relate to that experience, and I need friends who understand what it's like to live with somebody who has (undiagnosed) OCPD.
I need (and have found, kisses to you all!) friends who can relate to how/why I got into it, who agonized over staying in for years, as I did, who "get" why I finally had to leave, and who have gone through recovering their own souls, in the aftermath. And they don't all need to be the same person.
This is why a wide circle of friends is so important, and so wonderful. This is why it can be so dreadful to be a Perfectionist who cuts people off at the first "failure." The strength in a safety net is not simply that it has two or four really strong ropes, but that it has many ropes, interwoven. Sometimes one rope can't support you - but another six can.
I have friends who can relate to my recovery from being with OCPD - and others who have no clue. I have friends who are also parents - and others who aren't. I have crafter friends, and fellow bloggers, and wonderful co-workers I like to chat with; friendly neighbors and crazy cat lovers and friends who are also on journeys of intuitive eating.
I have friends who share my political and religious beliefs - and others who most definitely do not. I have friends who love to read, or watch chick flicks. I have fabulous family members who would be cherished friends even if we weren't related. I have friends I haven't met yet - either online or in any other way. I just know they're out there, somewhere. And every single friend supports me and makes my life richer in some glorious way.
Exciting, beautiful, kind friends, I am grateful to you all.