I think I must be very dense because it seems that God must pound things into my mind for them to “stick”. A few weeks ago, I wrote about healing through connection, and one could say this is a continuation of that.
I have said before that I am an introvert, which many people don’t really understand about me. Yes, I talk and I talk A LOT, but the core of who I am relishes the quiet and alone time. My soul does not get fed surrounded by a group of people, but rather through being home with my family or one on one conversation. My best understanding of this is that I am an extroverted introvert.
In the wake of the betrayal, I found myself feeling very lonely. However, this has been my reality for many years. I struggle to make friends and even with those who I consider friends, I was always nervous about reaching out for fear of rejection or fear that I liked them more than they liked me. This became more of an issue during the infertility struggle as I watched friends around me get pregnant and pregnant again. I was at that stage in life where I was ready to start a family, so many of my friends were in that stage too, but when it didn’t happen I found myself feeling isolated. One may have thought that adopting the boys would have lessened that, but it became just the opposite. Suddenly, I found myself drowning in the usual parenting stuff, but complicated by the issues with Bolt. Parenting him was all consuming and draining on every bit of my emotional bandwidth and I often felt like “Debbie-downer” when I did talk to friends. I even had a few people give me the not-so-helpful “feedback” of “I thought you wanted to be a mom, but all you do is complain”. It wasn’t that I was complaining, but rather completely overwhelmed with the reality of parenting a child with a severe attachment disorder. Rather than reach out and surround myself by people who supported me, I found myself pulling further away from friends and relying almost exclusively on my husband (at the time) and parents for my friendships. The move from Washington to Pennsylvania further compounded this. Of all the things, I did to hurt my marriage and myself, I think this was the biggest issue. My ex-husband is an extrovert and my social paralysis caused me to be angry with him when he would go out with friends instead of staying home with me. Having said that, when I would go out with him to social gatherings, he would ignore me just fueling my discomfort in these situations. Either way, I put myself in the situation of relying on one person to be my emotional support. This wasn’t fair to him and when everything fell apart, it really hurt me even more profoundly because I had relied on him so heavily.
When the rug was pulled out from under me and it felt like I was being swallowed whole, I began clawing and gripping onto anyone I knew I could trust. It was absolutely what I needed to do at the time, but I found myself without any local friends. In the first few weeks, I found myself going through a profound sensory withdrawal – I missed being touched. My ex-husband, was always very touchy – massaging, hugging, cuddling (though less for several months), and it was suddenly gone. I wanted a real-life girlfriend to come to my house and sit with me and just give me a hug and I didn’t have that.
I am now faced with the challenge moving forward of not allowing myself to live in isolation, both for myself and for my sons. I also cannot become one of those people who only takes out of relationships, but doesn’t give. I have been thinking a lot about this over the past few months and it is so funny because God is pounding that into my brain. I have really enjoyed listening to podcasts while working out and walking my dogs and so many of the podcasts I listen to have entire “episodes” on the importance of friendships coupled with advice on how to make and maintain friendships. It is so bizarre because it feels like God knows the cry of my heart where I crave friendships and is showing me that he desires this for me as well. For any of you that struggle with friendship’s, run to listen to Girlfriends Can Save the World on “For the Love with Jen Hatmaker”. I also am loving “The Shauna Niequiest Podcast” and “The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey”.
What has this process of building up local friends looked like for me? Well, it has been hard because I have had to go so far outside of my comfort zone. I have begun participating in a group for moms (and families) of kids who are adopted. Last week I went out with Bolt’s friend’s mom and had dinner with a group of divorced and widowed women. I started going to a book study of Lysa Terkeurst’s Uninvited (very relevant to this discussion). I am going to try and join the group of singles over 30 at church. Mostly, I am trying to talk to friends and dialogue and try not to only talk about my own personal drama. It is hard though, and friendships don’t happen overnight. I do know, though, that not only do I want to have a group of local friends the next time crisis finds me, but more than that I want to be a friend that people can rely on when they need someone walk alongside them in crisis.