To move to an entirely different subject, I mentioned my brain is overful !
In my life I am happy and lucky to have 6 ( yes SIX ! ) very close women friends that I love and cherish. In general I like women; I find them (on the whole) funny, courageous, supportive, kind and honest. Most women I know are not aggressive, judgmental or critical and I so find their friendship valuable and important as well as less risky than relationships with men. Since I have been sober (or is it since I was in a relationship with that man?) I have seen much less of some friends, which is entirely my fault because I have been silent, closed and reclusive, but in the last couple of weeks I have reconnected and made more new ‘budding friends’ in the fellowship meetings. This post is to celebrate those relationships and to remind myself why I value them all so much, how essential they are to me (I was going to write important but its more than that) and to express my gratitude for them so that I can look back when things are tough and remind myself that these attachments are valuable and I should cherish them.
I won’t name them, as I have not named other individuals in this blog, but use initials (as I have done previously) If they read this, and they all have access to it, I think they will see themselves. One of my biggest issues has been my own lack of self worth, and I do sometimes wonder why they put up with me, choose to see me or continue to support me when I am so very flawed. But for now I’m just glad that they are there, to hold my hand in the darkness, shine the spotlight of their experience and wisdom into some of the dark corners of my past and walk with me down the rocky path of sobriety, relationships parenting and life.
My friends all add something different to my life with their diverse experiences and personalities, but all are courageous, warm, generous and openhearted people. My friend K who lives in California I have known since I was about 8 years old. Through distance we don’t have the opportunity to see one another often, and life can get in the way of regular communication, but our shared history of childhood and experiences (she is also in recovery) have forged a deep, enduring attachment, and her empathy, compassion and understanding are a rare and valuable gift for me … She is visiting the UK in the Summer with her husband and children, and I am so excited to see her again.
My sober sister, V, is the newest addition to this select group. Although we have not known one another very long, and we have met face to face only a handful of times, she has had similar issues with alcohol misuse – and got sober just a few days after me. We ‘met’ over the internet and she was the first person I have ever met who really understood the struggles I had with alcohol, could empathize with the love/hate relationship that addiction brings, and with whom I did not have to feel ashamed of my ‘weakness’. Offering her support as well as receiving it provided me with my first experience of the connection, support and fierce solidarity between addicts – Its been a wonderfully enriching and valuable stanchion in our recovery journey.
The three women I first met at medical school … our friendships forged in the furnace of a University lifestyle and enduring through career development, marriage (three), (divorce – me) children (three out of 4) moving abroad (One to Australia for three years, one to Indonesia for VSO for a while) , moving away within the UK, sobriety, boyfriends, husbands, family, illness, bereavement and all of life’s vicissitudes. These three women and I are now woven into each others lives like recurring patterned threads that appear in a tapestry, not always visible, but always there. We meet when we can, sometimes together, sometimes individually, perhaps three times a year. I know they have my back, just as I have theirs and I know that, should any one of us need or ask, we would do whatever was in our power, unquestioningly, to help, support and protect one another. Yesterday evening I had an early dinner with my friend H who was in London for a training day. She could see the physical and emotional recovery I have experienced and I felt genuine, pure, uncomplicated JOY when I was with her. What a fantastic feeling to have.
Close at hand is my friend the other K. I met her through my ex husband and our friendship developed through our children and sharing our journey. She is very perceptive and thoughtful, and like all my close friends is able to listen and support without trying to ‘fix’ it, to stand beside me when things are dark and provide a reassuring hand hold. She is also very sociable, great fun and a great cook !
How lucky I am.
High on my gratitude list that I think of every morning as I come too, are these friendships. My life would be a much poorer lonelier place without them, and I am more conscious than ever before that I must nurture and consciously invest in these connections in order to live the fullest life I possibly can.