Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Those "ow" moments
I have been thinking a lot about how to manage my interactions with my friends who have kids. Often when I am visiting or chatting with them something will be said that will remind me that Matt is different and cannot do what their kids can do. And that hurts. Up until now I have kept those feelings to myself - I have not been sure how to talk about it without making them feel bad, and usually the feelings are so strong that I am scared that if I do talk about it in that moment I might explode my pain uncontrollably over everyone (not a pretty sight).
I recognise that in each stage of life I am going to have to deal with the fact that Matt's journey is different. So I am sure that those painful feelings are not just going to go away forever. Sometimes I think the easy option is to just withdraw from those friends who have said or done things that hurt me. But I'm sure they won't want that (and then I will have fewer and fewer friends - which I don't want). So I need a strategy that will allow me to be real and genuine about my struggles without blaming or overwhelming my friends. I don't want them to feel like they can't share anything with me or that they can't celebrate their kids milestones with me.
A friend of mine who has been single for many years (but now recently fallen deeply in love) shared with me how she used to cope when her single friends found their Mr Right whilst she was still alone. She recognised that it was a hard situation that could not be escaped. She would take responsibilty for her feelings, but she would chat to her friends if their actions or words were insensitive.
This has given me a strategy to manage those "ow" moments.
ONE I want to chat to my friends and acknowledge that Matt's journey is different (but not less valued) so there will be times when (though it is no-ones fault) I will feel sad. There is no escaping this fact. These will be tough moments that our friendship will need to endure.
TWO I commit myself to taking responsibility for the negative feelings and reactions I have that are due to me being OVERSENSITIVE to what my friends my do or say. God and I will work on those feelings and reactions. I will not make this anyone else's baggage.
THREE I will however share with my friends when I feel they have done or said something that is INSENSITIVE to Matt or his journey. I choose not to withdraw resentfully in silence, but rather gently share with them the impact of their words or deeds. And I will choose to forgive quickly.
This is still very much work in progress. I am yet to take action. But I feel hopeful that being proactive about dealing with the "ow" moments can deepen my friendships and free me from carrying around unnecessary pain and resentment.