If you’re anything like me, you’ve had friends come and go. For whatever reason you can feel extraordinarily close to people at periods of your life, and at other times they feel like strangers. Throughout it all, we maintain a caring for the people we have called “friends” whether we feel a closeness in the immediate term or not.
I’ve never really had trouble making friends. I’m outgoing. I like to get involved in things. I’m confident and, I’ve been told, easy to talk to. Yet, there have been periods of time in my life when I feel rather alone. It could be because I’m fiercely independent, or, more simply, it could just be the normal tide of life. Either way, feeling alone never feels good. We need other people. To remind us all of the good in us and, sometimes, the parts of us that could use a little refining.
I’ve always appreciated my friends who are most candid…who will say anything and tell you like it is. I tend to be analytical and my friends who can tell me “you need to get out of your head” are friends that have weathered those tides of life and who have ended up in my inner circle (whether they want to be there or not). There have been many phases of my life that have been challenging for me, and therefore challenging times to be my friend.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer was one of those times. At that time I had just decided to move back to my small town in Pennsylvania after living in several big cities. At the time of my move, I was living in NYC and craved a simpler life. Part of me felt it was the right thing to do, yet another side of me thought I was crazy. I’m sure my friends in NYC, who had been friends through my various moves from Chicago to Philly then finally to NYC, also probably partly felt I was crazy. Afterall, I had become an urban dweller, thriving on all things related to city life and the life of a road warrior for my job. But they supported me. They promised to visit me (and they did) and their doors were always open when I needed an urban fix.
After my diagnosis at age 33, I had some of my darkest days. So many things were in question. Of course, the life or death aspect of a cancer diagnosis. But at that time I was unmarried and hadn’t really even considered starting a family but knew it was something I hoped to do someday. My friends helped me through those days and reminded me that brighter days would come. And they did.
After a long road through my breast cancer treatment, I did end up getting married and then had two baby boys (Eli, when I was 40; and Leo, when I was 42).
Throughout it all, my friends were there. And as my journey evolved while forming the Feel Your Boobies Foundation and leaving the high-paying corporate world and navigating my new career path in the non-profit world, my friends reminded me that I could do it.
Then my marriage ended in a divorce. I knew I could get through it, but being a single mom of 2 in my 40’s was much harder than I ever imagined. I lost friends through the divorce and I gained others through common experience and little by little I worked to make sense of my new life and my lack of independence. Over time, things started to fall into place and oddly I found a friendship in my ex-husband and my boys’ father. We reached a place where, in my opinion, we appreciated all the reasons we were drawn together in the first place and now we’re reminding our boys that friendship can exist even after two people grow apart.
So, you see, friends have a profound impact on your life. They remind you of all things good about you, they remind you that you will be ok, and they lift you up at times when the days seem so long you just can’t even think about tomorrow.
And that, is the power of a friend.