Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Blessing of Friends

I miss not having really close friends.  I was taking stock of my life earlier this week and realized that I haven't made the time required to make friends with people, and I haven't even taken the care needed to keep the friendships that I've had over the years.

I had a bunch of friends in many different aspects of my life for many years.  I had friends from my neighborhood, friends from high school, friends from my church, friends from work.... Then I got married, and my wife's friends became my friends, as well.  And then we had "couple" friends, those married couples who were OUR friends, not the ones that we brought to the marriage.  After my wife died, the couple friends slowly started to disappear.  We didn't have the one thing in common, a spouse, that had made us friends to begin with, so it was hard to maintain that friendship.  I stay in touch with some of them, but it's not like it was before.

I had become closer again with my high school buddies following my wife's death, though, and we got together multiple times each year.  We went mountain climbing, or fishing, or we went out to the middle of nowhere to check out a dive of a restaurant that we had heard about.  We smoked meat in a blizzard and had a great barbecue.  And we talked.  About anything and everything.  But those guys are all married with kids and families and it's hard to plan these things, and I realized that two years have gone by since we last all got together.  And we barely stay in touch.  Usually it's just an email.  And I don't know how or why we let life get in the way of friendships.  And I'm realizing now that I miss those guys, and I need them in my life.  But I also understand that they have their families and their spouses and they need to be with them.  I was there, too.  I get it.

So why am I having such a difficult time making "new" friends?  Part of it is my personality.  I'm a mess of an introvert, and I'm only getting worse.  I used to be able to at least force myself to do social things, but now I don't have that same desire.  I'd rather just be at home.  Having a child also changes one's social life.  I love my daughter, but I can't just take her to hang out with my buddies.  So I stay at home.  I thought for sure that I would be able to strike up a few more friendships through my church, but even that is difficult for me.  I feel like I've got that stigma on me of being damaged goods.  Too often, I associate my church involvement with my wife, because WE were so involved in our church TOGETHER.  I think I've forgotten how to be involved without her, and I feel a little lost.  And you might be thinking, it's been over nine years since his wife died....heck, my marriage lasted half as long as it has been since she died!  Why is this still so difficult?  And I start feeling sorry for myself, and I pull away.  Even when there are guys that are reaching out to me, I shut them out (sorry, Rick....and Ron...and Steve).  And I fall into a pit of despair, and the depression that is fueled by the stresses of work and life pull me down, deeper and deeper.

And I'll climb back up for air for a short while.  I'll get excited about a weekend getaway or a family event.  But it lasts for a few days, and I dive back into the "comfort" of the depression, since that has become what I'm used to.

This blog entry has meandered into something I didn't expect.  Maybe this is the cry for help that I feel like is beneath me.  I don't want to be a burden on anyone, but every time this happens, it feels like I'm placing this burden on those around me.  And those closest to me, particularly my family, don't know what to do about it.  I can tell.  They can see I'm hurting, and they can see I'm shutting them out, and they don't know how to help because I don't know how to ask them without it feeling like I'm burdening them.  But deep down, I keep hoping that someone will recognize that there is something wrong with me and I need help, and they'll either reach out and pull me up, or drag me out of the pit.  Somehow.

I paused just now to reread what I just wrote.  This is one of those times that I've described before where the Lord is using me to write what needs to be written.  And as much as I want to delete this, I'm going to leave it alone.  It's apparent that He wants me to write this message.  Maybe it will be seen by a friend who knows exactly what to do.  I need help.  I recognize it.  This blog is first and foremost therapy for me, and as much as I'd like it to be something else, this is my reminder that it is therapy.  And it's going to help me, either by giving me an outlet for releasing the issues I'm dealing with on a daily basis, or as a way of reaching out.

Anyway, forgive me for detouring into a selfish realm.  I'm such a private person, but using the blog as a way of reaching around the introvert in me may be my tool to recovering from the depression I'm feeling.  If you are one who prays, please keep me in your prayers.  Pray also for Pastor Mark, who is recovering from open heart surgery, as well as for the Namie family.  There are so many others on my heart tonight, as well, and, again, if you would pray for them, I'd appreciate it:  Angie, Darren, Shawna, Sheryl, Rich, Brooke, Amanda, Ron, and Brian.  And that right there is a reminder that I DO have friends.  Thanks to each of you.

Best wishes and blessings, my friends.