Category Archives: Friendships

Those Few Special Friendships

 

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.”  — Robert Louis Stevenson

More.  Some of us have come to believe that more means better.  But there are some things where less is more, and one of them is a close friendship.  The truth is, we don’t have many special friends, and that is exactly what makes them special.

Between such friends, there is a bond of understanding, honesty, acceptance and love that is valued even more over time.  Trusted friends offer us the opportunity to learn to be intimate and to let ourselves be known as we truly are, time and time again.  From that mutual sharing, we receive what we need.  We can take certain risks, secure in the knowledge that the friendship will endure the test. With our special friends, we don’t have to worry about being perfect because we’re loved for who we are; the way we are.  These friendships possess an innate freedom.

Special friendships can be platonic or romantic. It doesn’t matter. Through good times and bad, we begin to sense a divine triangle of growth and love between ourselves, our special friends and our connection with the Universe.

To my close friends, Trish, Andrea, Scott, Kevin and Gregg, “Thank you for accepting “me” as me. The five of you were the special friendships I had in my mind when writing this blog.”

 


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You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

Ask for Help

 

“Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” — Anne Wilson Schaef

I’ve received a lot of help lately. Most from my dearest friend and some from people I never imagined I would receive so much of their time or efforts.  I don’t like to ask.  I’ll spend more energy talking about how hard it is for me to ask, than the energy I’d expend simply asking for what I need.

Many of us may have grown up in isolation and with shame being constantly reinforced the way I did.  Help began to feel like a luxury reserved for other people.  I thought I didn’t deserve it.   I thought I should be able to handle everything.  I failed to realize just when I needed help, because I’m so accustomed to living life in a “crisis mode.”  I tell myself that my concerns and problems aren’t important enough to bother somebody with.  Then, when life becomes really complicated, I blame myself for feeling overwhelmed and almost unable to act.

But we all deserve help.  We deserve all the help that we may want and need, whether it’s a ride to an appointment or for someone’s shoulder to cry on when we’re sad or upset.  We are worth the time, effort and concern of others – not because any of us is different, but because we are the same.

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I Feel As Though I’ve Lost My Way In This World

 

“If you are alone, I’ll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder. If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me.”  — Source unknown.

 

My life seems so incredibly fucked up now.  Even I have grown tired of the constant, seemingly endless drama that I consistently seem to manifest about me.

I have shared openly and with honest and authentic admission that I have not always lived life as a man of integrity.  Lies, deceptions, illusions, delusions once filled my life.  No one really knew who I was back then.  The pain that I carry, the result of the shame, guilt and true remorse are difficult to still bear.  I make my own best attempts to forgive myself and live by the commitments I have made to a life of rigorous honesty.  I revel in my new, authentic life and the easy cadence it brings.

However there are some who I have hurt in the past that refuse to see me as the man I am today and not the fool I was before.  Rather than try to see my progress, I am forced to swallow the bile of their resentments and my born again guilt.  I reach out to them at times like this for their love and support.  How many times can I hit “rock bottom” and how much worse can it get?  The problems I face in my life now contribute to anxiety and that feeling of being “lost.”  I have people; friends or “family of choice” with one best friend Trish who is so calm, patient and willing to learn, that I truly know what unconditional love feels like. She very well could be that angel I’ve asked for!

When does it ever stop?  What do these “detractors” get from holding their resentments so dear?  When can I be seen as the man I am today, rather than the monster of my past?  How can family turn-off their love and sit idly by while I grow more and more lost, alone and afraid?  I have begged for their help.  Their refusal is like a nightmare; if they needed my help I wouldn’t think twice.  I would do what I could.  I still love them, even now, as they turn away.

I have worked so hard and tried to follow a path toward personal growth.  I’ve learned so much along the way, but now I feel so lost in my fears and find myself dwelling in these feelings of abandonment and betrayal.  These behaviors I know are preventing me from initiating my solution to my challenges.  I want to learn whatever it is I am supposed to from this lesson and move on.  I want a life filled with the love and joy of family and friends.

Please, send me an angel…

 


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See That Storm Just Ahead? Confronting Issues

 

“Maybe you can’t see the storm that lies just ahead. But I can. Believe me, it’s there.”

Confronting issues openly and honestly can be difficult. Many, like me are afraid of the reaction they’ll get from the person they are confronting. With that fear firmly embedded in one’s psyche, looking the other way and acting like the problem isn’t there becomes the easy way out. Or so it seems. Looking the other way really doesn’t make matters easier at all. In fact, it makes them worse. Problems often just don’t go away without some action.

I haven’t faced some very big issues and challenges that have been in my life for too long now. But I see clearly that I can’t let these problems linger. In my situation the problems have grown and the result is more and more hurt to me. I feel fear of the reaction I expect to receive. My fears I know after giving it long thought are grounded in reality and not based on my imagination. To get myself beyond this fear, I will have to have the necessary support around me to protect me. With my support in place I will face my problems. I must remember that storms don’t last forever. Eventually the sun does shine again, and life was nourished by the rains. I will come out of this a better person.

 

Setting Healthy Boundaries

“No one else can set your boundaries for you.” — Lois J.

Let me start out by saying that I am not an expert at setting boundaries. The setting of healthy boundaries has proven to be my single most challenge I face in my personal growth work. That being said, what I am going to share in this blog is what I have learned to be true about the setting of boundaries, and what I strive to integrate into my daily life.

I have learned that one way to create boundaries with people is to show priorities in our relationships. In the past, I believe that out of my loneliness and neediness, I may have talked to anyone, whether the person wanted to listen or not. In the mixed up world of my uncontrolled bi-polar disorder, I often withheld my true feelings from people close to me, but perhaps spilled them to someone outside my inner circle, say such as my new “best friend” the cashier at Fry’s.

As I now grow in self-esteem, my relationships improve and I act to meet my needs. Then I have a better sense of who everyone is in my life. I make choices in my relationships and take responsibility for them. I learn to bear the pain of boundaries that aren’t respected and enjoy the serenity of those that are.

I no longer need to give myself away in bits and pieces; I know now what it is to feel whole. I can simultaneously have acquaintances, friends, and intimate relationships, both sexual and nonsexual, in my life. I can trust that I will act appropriately and that my boundaries will keep me safe.

I know that there are some people in my life that will doubt the validity of my commitment to this level of understanding of boundaries. But I am a work in progress and this is truly the knowledge that I have gained.


“A Letting Go” for the Holidays

 

“Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go.”  — Matthew Fox

 

Holidays can be a real test to one’s personal growth. That’s the case particularly for me. I struggle anyway on a day-to-day basis to stay emotionally and physically healthy. I can’t imagine those that must go it alone.

But I find this to be a good time to focus on taking good care of myself. I can reach out and invite my healthy friends, acquaintances and members of my “family of choice” to my home, keep up with phone calls, and try to be honest, rather than jolly. I can refuse to lose myself in my former unhealthy behaviors. I can find other healthy people to be with.

Perhaps holidays offer all of us the chance to reflect on the impact our former unhealthy ways have affected our relationships and how much sharing these special times with others means. We are also able to appreciate what we already have, to better recognize our blessings because we have known the pain and deprivation of our former, negative ways.

The path toward personal growth is my holiday season, offering to me peace, simplicity and most of all, reality. I can choose an attitude of hope and gratitude. In letting go of expectations, I find much more to celebrate than I could have anticipated. My affirmation for today is, “I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.”


 

The Gift of Friends

"A little help from my friends..."

“And when I see you happy, well, it sets my heart free.  I’d like to be as good a friend to you as you are to me.”  — Joni Mitchell

Friends are one of the greatest gifts and they come as a result of a life that’s sane and manageable.  It takes time and energy to make and keep good friends, but the rewards are worth it.  To these most special people we can gladly give our honesty, our fidelity, our trust, and our unconditional acceptance.

As friendship grows, we find ourselves more able to understand our friend’s needs.  Is there a child to be watched or perhaps a kitchen that could really use a cleaning?  Can we listen emphatically, without judging, to whatever a friend is going through?  When a friend is sick, are we ready to help out?  Can we put aside our needs because a friend’s need is greater at the moment than our own?

Through our efforts toward personal growth, we build the skills it takes to be a good friend, we can let go and let our friendships develop naturally.  Then, we will be able to trust the bond of love between our friends and us.

Hugging and Holding

 

“I’d never seen men hold each other.  I thought the only thing they were allowed to do was shake hands or fight.”  —Rita Mae Brown

Like many men, I grew up without knowing the warmth of lovingly touching one another.  Some of us had fathers who trapped themselves in a stereotypical male role, afraid to hold us and show their love for us.  We may have learned to be independent, competitive, and even separate.  We often fall into awkwardness and isolation.  As men especially, we become afraid to reach out, hug, and hold someone of our own sex. So many of us, whether male or female, have lost touch with ourselves and with others.  We have been alone far too long.

One result when pursuing personal growth is the awareness and beginning of healthy and proper holding of one another and giving hugs.  At first, we may find it embarrassing and keep our distance.  As we learn to loosen up and reach out, we look forward to the warmth and strength that comes from giving and receiving a friendly, caring hug.  It is good to learn to touch in a fearless and nonsexual way.  I am glad to be in touch with other people through hugging and holding.

Dispute Leads to Anger and Vindictiveness

 

“Only that action is just which does not harm either party to a dispute.” — Gandhi

Most of the disputes I have occur when I realize I have been lied to. I hate being lied to. I’m not stupid. I want to know that I’m dealing with people in “reality” rather than a fictitious world made up through lies. I find myself occasionally embroiled in a bitter dispute and feel determined at all costs to back a person into a corner to get them to admit to their lie, or to impose my solution to the dispute, even though I know it may cause the other person harm. I have come to know that I don’t really want a solution at all; I want revenge.

The wish to harm others may be derived from feeling that I have been hurt, perhaps as a child. I may be recalling feelings of being neglected, misunderstood, or even abused and assaulted. So to me, in my mind, the world owes me something and I intend to collect. I may even bear grudges and resentments against successful people, not because they have done me wrong, but merely because they are – successful.

I need to let my shame and sorrow out into the clear light of day. By opening myself up to others, I will surely find that together we can defuse my anger and want to hurt others. I can stand on equal footing with others and have no more need for resentment and rage.

I know that I am gradually getting rid of my secret shame that causes me to act out of anger and vindictiveness.