Monday, March 5, 2012

Friendships, Un-Plugged...

"Close friends are truly life's treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone."  Vincent van Gogh

To hear it so many times, to say it more often than not, to express what happens when life gets in the way of friendships...that you really know who your friends are when you're going through adversity in lieu of prosperity. Everybody's thought it or experienced it at some point in their life. Feeling used because somebody didn't give enough, didn't call or write, didn't step up when the going got tough. At the end of the day, how is that measured? Is that what friendship is about?

Party like a rock star friends, travel around the world friends, best in fine food and wine friends, all the bells and whistles friends, because we were in the same place friends, childhood friends - those relationships were in high quantity and filled us up.

I could spew the emotional travesties of lost friends for weeks and months, and then most emphatically convince you that I was the ultimate giver, the best friend, the one who contributed the most, because that is how we see it. Is it ever really our fault when friendships go south?

Sure it is. Let's be honest with ourselves, we were probably solely to blame for the majority of lost relationships simply because life's timing just has a way of screwing things up. Whether it's a move, a family issue, career change, life altering circumstance, physical or financial loss - it happens. And unfortunately, we let it.

Most telling is that we change.

Paraphrasing yet again, "regardless of the pedigree of loss, it you haven't experienced it, you won't get me". We now communicate differently. Actually, we speak a different language. One that cannot be taught, but one that must be learned while treading the rough waters of the cesspool. Whether it's loss through death or divorce, physical or financial, it's loss. If you've lost a spouse, lost a child, lost a job, lost a business, lost your life's savings, lost your home - it's a loss. If you've been fortunate enough to have skated through life's perils without it, you are probably not my friend. You've missed the memo inviting you to this special little club, the club you never want to be in.

So, we mourn the loss. The loss of friendships that cannot survive the loss.

I was reminded yesterday that, "These unfortunate losses can begin to define us and if not checked have the ability to cast a nasty curse on those we care the most about."

For those in the club, isn't it true that:

  • The most insignificant things to some may be hurtful and debilitating.
  • It doesn't matter where or who we come from, there is a likelihood that we all end up in a similar space.
  • Our perceptions about someone or something is only true to us until we take the time to know better.  
  • That the 'lost ones' are typically more sensitive to (words) and may easily misconstrue actions and comments by others. We think harder and deeper and long term.
  • We analyze, turn it inside out, take it apart and put it back together again because we're in a debilitating situation and want to make damn sure that if we ever climb back out, we stay out.
So, we begin to regain our footing, find our way and (oh hell to the yes) allow karma to work it's magic. Praise God, we can celebrate the relationships that begin to rise like a phoenix from the ashes, the friendships you would have missed if life had not gotten in the way and made room for the best friends, ever. To be who you want to be, to say what you need to say and all the while feel loved unconditionally.

Even though I've misinformed my myself about the friends that come and go through loss, the fog is lifting. You had this, then life changes. You now have this, because life changed. It's taken me far too long to realize that today my safe harbor are really those who know my biggest loss is just on the horizon. They're not in the "run for the hills because it got messy category" or the "I am here because we've been through this together category", but most importantly they're in the "here and ready to save me, regardless category".

Fortunately for me, all was not lost, and not all perished. But the cream has a way of rising to the top and I find myself gently and selectively sharing with my lifelong steadies the raw plethora of feelings and ideals that emerge. Because without loss, they will never get to this next level of understanding and humility. It's when the opportunities to think differently because you have to, create a desire to really think and do what you want facilitates pure liberation. Doesn't sound so Rock Star?

This Spring and on the cusp of a 50-year milestone, I am a lucky girl to feel so abundantly loved and understood. When the best birthday present so far is a blinged-out parachute for a softer that's Rock Star!

"People, the shit is going to hit the fan, it could get ugly and we're not going anywhere category."

My name is Rhonda Brantley and my husband, Billy Ray Brantley suffers from Early Onset Alzheimer's Dementia. This is the best shot we have at documenting daily living.

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