Cultivating New Friendships
One of my sweet friends brought up a subject that she had a hard time making friends. She was thinking she was alone in this department – but – I know for a fact, just about every person I know has had a very hard time at one time or another making new friends, and even keeping old friends post injury.
There was a time where I too struggled with making friends, and to be honest, still do sometimes! Women in general have this issue, but throw in helping to take care of a combat wounded veteran and things can get hairy!
I’ve learned its SO important to be 100% honest to people I meet when making friends. I explain our way of life, in every detail I think possible – and then, when asked questions – instead of shutting them out or being mad at them for not understanding… I just go with the flow and answer questions the best I can.
1. I closed myself off to new friends after my husband was wounded, and because my husband had extra circumstances that he was dealing with that were hard for me to deal with.
2. I didn’t allow myself time to make new friends – I made the world revolve around my husband because I was afraid if I didn’t – something would go horribly wrong when I wasn’t around…. and then after a while, it was an easy cop out. I was in my own pity party and I didn’t know how to get out of it.
3. I made excuses not to try to make new friends because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand, or quite frankly – it took too much time to explain everything to new people. I felt like I didn’t have time for that. I felt too overwhelmed with everything to even begin to share our story, BUT – if I had, it would have been easier… leading in to number 4….
4. I felt like I had to explain war injuries to new friends, but instead of just doing it and getting it out there, I would shut down and walk away because I couldn’t deal with reality that our lives changed quite yet.
5. I wasn’t very forgiving of other people. Our lives were different, I would get different reactions from people, including new friends. They didn’t understand everything, but I expected them to even if they weren’t walking in the same pair of shoes. That’s not quite fair to others.
Truth is, I had to make some heavy duty personal changes within myself (which I am still a work in progress and still working on this). In my case, it wasn’t just my husband who was injured in war… when he was deployed, I was hurting too. I was going to funerals. I was explaining to the kids that they shouldn’t watch the news, or listen to rumors other people talked about (my husbands unit was hit very hard in Iraq). I was hurt. I was struggling. I needed healing too; yet, when my husband came home wounded – I shifted all of my focus on him instead of working on my healing or taking time to enjoy friends, taking time to enjoy every day because I knew how precious and limited life could be. Let’s face it, I don’t even know if I had time when he was first seeking medical care to even begin to know where to find help for myself.
Thats why I stress how important it is to put our oxygen masks on first… so we can help others – including our veteran. In my case, I would think to myself I needed friends; but didn’t realize at first that I was the one standing in the way of my own happiness.Written by Patti on Sunday, April 3rd, 2016