You look at any older buildings at the campus near where I work, and you’ll likely find one of those large, cubic blocks that form a cornerstone. A foundation stone.
Right now, it feels almost as if I’ve pulled apart my life right back down to it’s foundational basics. Now I have all these heavy stones and a new plan to put them to use. Some of my materials are cracked, others the corners have been sheared off. Still others, all the sharp edges have been worn smooth by tempermental ‘weather’.
There is something both exhilarating and yet daunting when I look at all the pieces of my life, knowing the future is mine to build. A new year, my maiden name, and freedom from a decade’s marital quagmire have allowed me to begin a fresh start. Something all of my own making, whether I choose to invite others in to help me or not.
To be honest, I have a few people along whether I invite them to or not, and I’m kind of thankful for their loving nosiness. But I am even more blessed that, even if they demand to be a part of this rebuilding phase, they are still taking a step back and allowing me to design the schematics myself.
It’s a wonder what happens, when you try to have healthy boundaries… and people respect them.
Lately I’ve been thinking; a dangerous prospect, I know. (Extra points if you hear the same music/song/movie reference I do after I typed those and reread them.) On some level, I know I have taken a lot of strides this year on my own. I’ve made choices. Some better than others. For the most part, everything has worked out and I’ve landed on my feet. It’s important for me, to say that I accomplished a lot of that. I did a lot of the hard work myself. That’s an achievement.
But I think it’s also important to recognize that others helped lighten the load where they could. And it draws me back to that moment after I first got married, when I made the promise to myself that I would never let my marriage become the be all end all of my life. That I wanted to maintain my friendships, and keep those connections.
That moment. There.
That one saved my life.
That is the single most important and impacting decision I have ever made.
As I peel back the years, and recognize the choices I made, I clung to that one promise with a tenacity rooted in my stubborn heritage (both sides of the family). It wasn’t always easy, because life has a way of casting the people you love to the four corners of the world (or the other side of a major city, which seems almost as far, sometimes). But as we all settled into adulthood, the friends who mattered began to show up again. Not everyone did, but then life sometimes takes us in unexpected directions. And when past friends reached out, I reached back eagerly.
Those are the building blocks I want to keep. The ones that have made this journey a little less tumultuous. And if there is one piece of advice I can give to people who are in the midst of a difficult storm, it is to find people you trust. Work on building the relationships you need. Understand that sometimes you will have to give, but over the years, you should be able to accept without fear or guilt as well.
Easier said than done, I know. But friendships, healthy friendships, teach us things about boundaries. About safety. With people who also are willing to learn and struggle with themselves. Reaching for those things also gives us the motivation to work on ourselves. Because we’re worth it. So as my counselor told me recently. Take a risk. I know it can feel scary. Reach out to someone you haven’t lately; connect with a close friend; be mindful of the people in your lives. If you don’t have much time, find out ways to include them or invite them in to the things in life you are already doing. Maybe it’s time to make a little time. Whatever your situation, I hope you try. Life is so much richer when shared with the right people.