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(Photo courtesy of QuotesNHumor.com)

Have you ever stopped to consider how important it is to have friends? Or how much of an influence friends have in who you are and how happy you are? I think many of us take friends for granted and probably don’t think too much about what life would be like if we were suddenly friendless.

For the past 6 weeks or so, that’s exactly what my life has been like. Friendless. I didn’t realize it, of course. I talked in my last post about how busy I’ve been. So busy that I’d been neglecting the things I need to do for myself, so I re-committed to getting back on track with working on my happiness. And since my last post, I have definitely gotten better about doing the things I said I was going to. But guess what? I was doing them BY MYSELF.

To be fair, I wasn’t LITERALLY by myself. At golf lessons, I had my teacher there with me. At work, I had co-workers there. At home, my husband and I were able to spend more time together, and we had some family come visit us for the July 4th holiday. And don’t get me wrong…I enjoyed spending time with ALL of these people. But they weren’t my “friends”, if you know what I mean (sorry if you fit into one of these categories, but hang with me here…I promise I am not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings).

My friends…my TRUE friends…are the ones I can unabashedly be myself around. You may think I should be able to be that way around my family and my husband, right? Well, not really…not for me, anyway. Sometimes I have to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself to avoid hurting them or making them worry about me. Sometimes I feel like if I tell them exactly what I am thinking and feeling, they’ll think I’ve lost my ever-loving mind! Please tell me some of you know what I’m talking about on this one!

William Shakespeare said, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” If you ask some people who know me, they’d say I have a lot of friends. But I don’t. Not really. I can count on one hand (OK, maybe 1.5 hands) the number of people who meet this definition of friend. People I can truly let down my guard with. People I can admit my deepest thoughts and secrets to. People who will tell me the God’s honest truth, no matter what I may WANT to hear.

The past two weeks, I noticed I was really “off”. I was sullen, didn’t want to do anything, had no energy…basically, I was miserable. I first attributed it to the long hours I’d been spending with my full-time job, including a couple of business trips. But last week, I had a normal work week, and some down time, but was still miserable. And I had re-committed to the things I talked about in my last blog, so I was frustrated with why I was not happy.

My gut told me to reach out to my friends. Those people I consider to meet Shakespeare’s definition. Two of them were available to get together with me this weekend…one yesterday and one today. Wow! All I can say is W.O.W.!

Until I got together with the two of them, I didn’t realize how much I’d been starving for some good ol’ quality time with a FRIEND.

When my one friend saw me yesterday, the very first thing she said to me was, “What’s up? Something’s not right with you…what’s going on?” Throughout the course of our conversation, we came to realize that what was wrong with me was that I’d relegated myself to being friendless for at least the past 6 weeks. I was so busy with work and family obligations that I let my friendships fall by the wayside. I realized something was off, and I thought it was with my slacking on the meditation and the other things I mentioned in my last post, so I’d put forth the effort into those things. But I let go of my friends in the process.

I guess I subconsciously realized it, because like I said, I reached out this past week to my friends. During the time with my friend yesterday, she exclaimed at one point that she could already see a difference in my whole demeanor. That I looked so much happier. All from just some good, quality conversation with someone I truly love having as part of my life. Someone who I can be myself around and not feel like I am “less than” when I admit to not being perfect.

This morning, I connected with another friend. One that I haven’t seen in person in quite some time. Yeah, we’ve connected through e-mails and social media, but let’s face it, social media just isn’t the same. Nothing takes the place of that live, in-person time with a true friend. The cool thing was that even though I hadn’t seen her in person in a couple of YEARS (yes, you read that correctly…YEARS), we picked up as if we hadn’t missed a beat. And that’s another sign of a true friend. No blame going on, no guilt trip…just genuine delight in spending some quality time with each other after so much time apart.

I gotta say, I feel so refreshed right now. And I realize, now more than ever, that having friends is part of finding your happiness. So I promised my friend yesterday that I wouldn’t let myself get into this situation ever again. No matter what, no matter how busy I may be, I will make more time for my friends. This past 6 weeks of being friendless has been so incredibly lonely. At least I had my family around, and I know that helped to a degree…I can’t even imagine how strong that feeling of loneliness would have been if I had NO ONE. No one should ever have NO ONE to confide in and talk to.

Ever since yesterday, I’ve had “You’ve Got a Friend”, by James Taylor, in my head. I love this verse:

“If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there.”

That’s how it is with a true friend. When you need them, they are there for you. No matter what. All you have to do is ask them to be there for you. I love that I have a few people in my life that I can count in that category.

If you’re having trouble making time for your friends, take a look at what you’ve got going on and figure out where you can fit them in. Don’t feel like you’ve got to go through everything alone. Don’t assume you’re friends are too busy for you. If you haven’t heard from them in awhile, then YOU be the one to reach out…don’t wait for them to come to you, as that may very well be what THEY are doing…waiting for YOU. Sometimes we think we’re bothering people, when in reality, they are craving time with us just as much as we are craving it with them.

So put yourself out there. A true friend will answer the call.

Namaste,

Melanie

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