In the past few months, my calendar has been overflowing with necessary appointments, therapies, and fundraising projects for my daughter who has special needs. As a result, I have had to scale back my time with friends, groups I am part of, and other related activities. I love being a mom, but I strive for a healthy balance. It has been hard. My down time is early morning exercise and late night meditation (if the kids will remain asleep for me).
The valued time of hanging out with my friends—and my kids with theirs—is placed on hold. We are still friends, but it is hard to be part of my friends’ lives (and their lives to be part of mine) when my days and weeks are consumed with unavoidable appointments and therapies. I yearn to be with my friends, and to be part of their lives. Life is too difficult to summarize with a text or email. The investment in face-to-face time is essential.
My daughter had the opportunity to be involved with a therapist who would help her grow in strength at the same time we launched a fundraising campaign for her medical treatment. It has taken more hours than I anticipated with media interviews, and following up leads to help raise awareness. Time seeped away. Yet the fundraising achieved its goal earlier than anticipated. I am now more available to examine new ways to reconnect with my friends. I am making a concerted effort to stay in touch, so as not to let a feeling of isolation take hold and I withdraw.
I imagine my friends are finding it challenging to understand how to help, support, or stay in touch when it is just “normal” for me to not be there anymore.
Tips on how not to disconnect:
1. Facebook, Twitter, or other types of social media is a great way to stay updated on what friends are up to. I find by posting my activity, I can have a quick chat in the comments.
2. Every so often, a catch-up breakfast or dinner can rekindle the friendship. Once per month, a couple of my friends and I wake when it’s still dark, and walk on the beach at sunrise. We eat an early breakfast together, and return to our families by morning tea.
3. Make a phone call. In the age of text messages and emails that can easily be misinterpreted, why not take a couple of minutes and dial your friend’s number and just listen?
4. Make the effort to say “this made me think of you.” Life is crazy busy. We all have many commitments and our own challenges. Share a little friend moment. It doesn’t have to be big: an email, a note, a text, a meal or even a small gift will lift spirits.
5. I love to write, and sharing my words with strangers and friends is a fun way to connect, make new friends, and keep connected. It provides space to make sense of my world and explore myself.
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes disconnecting for a little while is what you may need. But, reaching out when times are tough, or when you feel lonely or isolated might be hard but it is worth the step.
7. Never give up. Positive affirmations are part of my life. It is tempting to allow myself to be lost in my appointments and activities–a friend can provide a different perspective, listen, share a joke and a giggle.
By maintaining friendships, I am blessed by sharing and helping others when times are tough for them as well. We can only learn from each other and build our communities if we share life’s journeys. Sharing my journey has allowed me to learn to let others help because sometimes friends don’t know how, and sharing yourself with them gives them an opportunity to participate in a useful way.