Do you see yourself as the amazing gift to the world you are? Or are you like me and most often see yourself for your flaws, your fears, the things you didn’t say or haven’t done?
When I think of my friends, I think of what I love about them. With Brenda, I think about the courage it took for her to leave her husband after so many years, in spite of the cultural and social messages she received from her family (and the world). I think about how smart and funny and beautiful she is and how loving she is to check in on me and her friends and her family.
When Brenda sees me, she sees someone smart, funny, fun, beautiful. I know because she told me. We had a long, long talk Sunday night, and Brenda listened to me talk about Steve and me.
She reminded me that I have had the same concern about my relationship with Steve the entire time we have been together. A friend of ours has since divorced and remarried! (I don’t believe getting married again is necessarily a sign of progress, but this does show the passage of time.) Brenda also reminded me that with Darrell I was concerned we didn’t talk about anything of substance and I didn’t think we had a lot to talk about.
That made me feel so much better and reminded me that my ambivalence comes from doubt. This is what friends do for you–they listen to you and they remind you of what you forget when you get lost in your doubts.
Writing helps too. Brenda read a journal of hers she found from years ago and she said she was amazed to see how insightful she was–and that she had been struggling with the same problems for years with her husband. (I encouraged Brenda to blog 🙂 )
We have so much in common, Brenda said–overthinking every decision, taking responsibility for others, holding out hope that a relationship will change, and generally, living life with a lot of uncertainty and anxiety and putting others’ needs firsts.
Brenda’s sister does none of this, and God, I admire that. She puts her own needs first and can’t understand Brenda’s hardships sometimes. She sees Brenda for all she is, like I see Brenda–gorgeous! smart, self-assured, determined, resourceful, creative. And for sure she can have what she wants because of all she has to offer. Isn’t it funny how easily we can see the best in the people we love and offer loving advice and encouragement, yet we can’t (or it is difficult) to do this for ourselves?
My aunt Linda told me this weekend that I am focused. That surprised me, just like Brenda saying I was funny. Linda said as a kid I used to read cereal boxes during breakfast, and it would take my dad several attempts to get me to pay attention. I don’t remember this at all but I am going to work on internalizing these qualities and believing I have them–and I will tell people I love the wonderful things I know about them.