2018 has been chock full of all sorts of changes. Many of these have been lifestyle changes. With my doctors’ blessing, I started to drive a little again. I gave up caffeine and alcohol. I started to eat better, both in content and portion size. I became a regular gym-goer, and I did a little yoga. I just signed up for karate. However, the biggest surprise change for me was pertaining to people: I found myself reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.
After graduating from college in 2010, my group of Christian friends started to shift. It felt less and less like a close-knit sisterhood and more and more like individual close friendships. Now, I understand that it made sense, given how we had all moved, gotten married, and found jobs. Then, I was just terrified of somehow being left behind. My best friend at the time and I began to talk less and less often. Before I knew it, we didn’t talk at all. I blamed myself, and as distance grew between me and the other girls, I thought they surely must all be just fine without me. I was prone to sudden emotional outbursts and talking too much. I felt like I was too often sick or sad or overwhelmed. Who would want to be my friend anyway? I wouldn’t. They all had busy lives, and my best friend rarely called with more than five minutes to talk anymore. If you know me, you know being concise is not my strong suit. I’m working on that (among many other things), but at the time, I didn’t have the first clue how to explain to anyone what was wrong in bite-size pieces. I convinced myself I wasn’t worth talking to. By early 2014, I had closed myself off from each friend in that group and stopped responding. The state of my mental health was catching up with me fast, and I didn’t know I was suffering from multiple disorders. I wouldn’t find out until much later, when I began therapy at the beginning of 2017.
At the end of 2017, one of these friends bravely reached out to me, and we picked up right where we had left off. As it turned out, she had been through some of the same struggles as me. Talking with her now and then for the past ten months has been such a comfort. She even helped me feel brave enough to reach out myself to another friend I hadn’t seen or spoken with in four or so years.
The bits of in-person time I’ve spent with each of these friends have been surreal. Some aspects feel familiar, like going out to lunch or sitting around a fire. Other parts are brand new, since they both have children. There are new little faces in the mix! It is the most fun to get to know them, and watch friends I knew when they were 18 be in full fledged mom mode.
At first I found myself returning to old habits in my mind and excessively worrying I was going to screw everything up or not be myself. And that terrible fear that I was right all along, and I would be “too much” for them. I’ve been grateful for skills I’ve learned in therapy, because it’s become so much easier to relax and be me. On top of that, both friends have gone out of their way to be kind and understanding. They always were kind and understanding. I don’t know why I was surprised.
In the midst of these two reunions, I’ve started to feel a deep sense of relief. My 20s were filled with identity crisis and fear, and now it’s as if a frantic part of me is settling down. In addition to laughing about do-you-remember-whens, these conversations have been full of I’m-sorry-fors and me-toos and I-never-knews. We are feeling the weight of our respective last few years of struggle and change. We have new perspectives and new parts of our histories. We are picking up all the threads in the now. I’ve even texted with my old best friend, just a little. I don’t know if we’ll ever talk about what happened, but I’m okay with that. She just had a baby girl. I’m so happy for her because she always wanted to be a mom. It’s enough for me to just wish her the best and be thankful for the time she was in my life.