A couple of weeks ago, I spent a few posts examining an article by Bronnie Ware entitled “5 Regrets of the Dying,” and though last week proved busier than expected, I thought I’d get back to my little project this week.
I am going to combine numbers three and four because they seem related. Well, they do to me, anyway:
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
With the people I love and trust, I have no problems expressing my feelings, maybe a little too well. But it’s that pesky trust thing that trips me up in my other relationships. I was never cool when I was younger, and if we’re being honest, I’m still not very cool these days, either. But when I was a kid, I felt it so strongly. I was self-conscious, and on a couple of occasions, people that I thought were my friends hurt me or let me down in some way, and this bruised my confidence. As a result, I have become introverted as an adult. At least, I think there is a direct connection, or perhaps I was always this way and don’t know it.
I have lost friendships because I have been lousy at keeping in touch, too. It’s not deliberate; it just kind of happened along the way. But the older I become, the more I realize how much I need other people. Becoming Jude’s mom has intensified this feeling. But because my instincts always have me protecting myself and retreating, I have to work at it.
And so I do.
With luck, I have met the most wonderful friends in my adult life. My colleagues are proof of this. The friends I made at work are kind, generous, funny, dependable, and dear. Soon after I had Jude, a group of them came to visit me at my home. It was my first big dose of company since his birth, and I had no idea how much I needed it until they arrived. We sat on the deck and ate lunch and then retreated to the kitchen for some dessert and chatting, and their stories, their laughter, and their support that meant so much to me, I thought I could cry when they finally left for the day.
Maybe it was just the hormones.
I often worry that my house is not neat enough or not polished enough. We’ve lived here less than two year and have a lot of work to do, and that doesn’t sit well with the perfectionist with me. So, it’s hard to remember that friends don’t care what my house looks like or what I look like. I have to learn to trust in that, and I have to start learning to trust in myself.
I do not want Jude to learn from me that every social encounter should be followed with the thought:
“Did I just make a fool of myself?“
This blog has helped me with expressing myself more and with building a kind of trust in others. I don’t always tell people what they mean to me, but I am learning. What I have found is that, like me, most people appreciate sincerity. My imperfections and my silliness, they aren’t things to fear or hide. They make me humble, human.
I am trying.
Recently, the Today Show ran a segment about the importance of friendships for boys. I paid careful attention to it because I want Jude to be a healthy, well-adjusted child who enjoys close, life-long friends. In order to encourage him, I know I have to model this behavior, and that means taking better care of my relationships.
But, I also have to show him that friendships are symbiotic. In order to reap kindness, he has to give it out. He has to be generous and kind and good-hearted if he expects others to treat him that way. And sometimes, it won’t work. He’ll open himself up to someone who will be careless with his heart. That person will strip away part of Jude’s trust and leave a scar. But I hope I can help him see that not everyone is so reckless and that he does not have to retreat or become afraid. He just has to keep going until he can set down his things and make a home around the right group of people.
I admire my mom because she has a wide circle of friends, and I know this is because she is loving and giving but also because she has solid self-esteem. She believes in herself, and she believes in other people, and who doesn’t want to be around someone who is so positive and so fun? Maybe my crazy introversion will skip a generation and Jude will inherit his Nonni’s social instincts, but if not, I hope that we can both learn from her example so that we, too, are not listing “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends” amongst our parting regrets.
And if that doesn’t work, maybe she’ll give us free lessons?