Tuesday, February 13, 2007

You Got to Have Friends

OK, it seems that the corporate info-trolls have repented of their decision to put Blogger ‘under the ban’. Which many of you have known for a while, since I’ve been leaving comments on your blogs for the past couple weeks. Which means that I can post again, from time to time. I won’t be posting terribly regularly – once or twice a month, at most, and probably not as extensively as before – but, from time to time, as thoughts occur to me, I’ll throw ‘em out here. Hope you all don’t mind. . .


So, here’s a bit more ‘backstory’ for you all; perhaps it will shed just a bit more light on who I am, and where I’m coming from; it might be a little convoluted, so I'll ask for your patience in advance. . .

In recent months, I have blogged quite a bit (here and here) about our recent struggles with a couple of our kids, and about the life of our community. I think I've mentioned, maybe in passing, that, until a few years ago, I had a 'low-level' pastoral position in the community - I led a small men's group (maybe 6-8 guys, at various times). I was also involved in leadership of music for our worship meetings, and I had my fingers in a few other 'pies', as well, including leading music for the community's kids' summer camp. When things with my kids got so intense, I stepped down from leading the men's group. The music leadership also got a fair bit more demanding of my time/energy around that time, and so I stepped down from that, too. All with the agreement and approval of those who had been my 'peers' and 'leaders' in those things. Then, at the same time, the directors of the summer camp asked another guy to lead music for the camp (there was a complex set of reasons for their decision, and they talked about it with me beforehand; they didn't 'spring it on me'; at least not completely). So, in the space of a few months, I left pretty much every significant role I had in the life of the community, except that of 'member'.

The trouble is, those 'positions' provided me with most of the context for my friendships in the community. So, when I left those positions, I lost most of my close friendships. Not in the sense that they weren't my friends anymore, but, the context I'd had in which we encountered each other was gone. They weren't any less busy than they'd ever been, and so the net effect on my life was, that I lost most of my closest friends; or at least, I lost virtually all of the day-to-day contact that I'd had with them. Now, I'm a person who forms a few really deep friendships, rather than lots of shallow ones, so that was a very painful set of events in my life. I've tried hard not to be bitter about it; I don't think I've succeeded as well as I wish I had. I keep plugging away, but the pain hasn't just gone away like I wished it would.

Since the first of the year, Molly and I have gone to counseling (separately, for our own issues; the woman we’re both seeing has been counseling 1F for the last six months or so). I think it’s been good. We’ve covered a fair bit of ground already. It will probably take a while for it all to ‘take shape’ for me, but I will say that both Molly and I have been addressing things from our pasts that we’ve always known about, but never particularly felt the effects of (my parents’ divorce, for my part). But, of course, just because we didn’t feel the effects, didn’t mean that there weren’t any effects; only that we didn’t feel them.

When Molly and I were ‘courting’, I laid out my life story for her, with the adoption, the divorce, etc, etc. She said to me, tongue only partly in cheek, “How can you be normal?” (saying what’s on her mind is one of Molly’s very endearing qualities). Well, it turns out I’m not! Sorry about that, Sweetheart. ;)

So now, we’re starting to understand what some of those effects are (and how they’ve worked to the detriment of our kids), and how we can begin to undo them. And we’re seeing positive trends already.

As far as my friends go, I’m finally figuring out that a large part of my ‘friendship need’ is up to me to address. Rather than just wallow in my own hurt feelings and self-pity (it is so easy to just say “to hell with it,” and wallow; as unpleasant as it is, it’s incredibly tempting), I really can just go initiate some contact. Which takes a bit more work on my part than it used to, when I could just go to meetings, and my friends would be there, without me having to do anything. But – it is what it is. And we’ve revisited a few ‘older’ friendships that had sort of ‘lain dormant’ for a while – people who, ironically, I’d fallen out of touch with as I got too busy to spend much time with them. And it’s all good.

The whole counseling thing is really just getting started, and there’s still a lot of territory left to be explored in my psyche. But, based on the early returns, I’m hopeful. And, when I can, I’ll keep you all posted. . .


Edit, Feb. 15 - I should add, by way of tying things together a bit, that one of the 'issues' that this all brings up is a 'weak sense of myself', to use my counselor's psycho-jargon. Which is to say, that I think of myself in 'social' context - I understand 'where I fit in', and who I am relative to others, but, when I'm 'left to myself', so to speak, my inner resources aren't so strong, and I start to feel 'lost'. Which actually makes sense of several things in my life. So, as I said above, I'm hopeful. And hope is a good thing. . .