Do you ever have those moments that put so much “WOW” in your mind that you have to just sit there, waiting for the shock or epiphany to fully land? I had one of those on Friday.
I was getting ready for a Harry Potter movie night at my place (nothing new), folding laundry, and listening to the Dear Prudence podcast (talking to the podcast out-loud answering any questions that were asked).
There was one woman on the show – I don’t remember if her name was said, but she asked such a relatable question that maybe it’s better that I don’t know. It was easier for me to see myself in her that way. She talked about a friendship with another lady that wasn’t as deep as she wanted it to be. This friend wasn’t a big “sharer” and didn’t dive into emotions or reveal secrets about her past like the question-asker did. Her question was something along the lines of “I really enjoy this other lady’s presence. What can I do to deepen my friendship with her?”
And while Prudence and her guests for the evening spoke each of their 2 cents, I sat, staring out at a wall – a pair of pants half-folded in my lap. I looked at the energy of the question and saw that what this woman was expecting from her friend was information from her past. She wanted dirty secrets. Traumas. Deep, heartbreaking sadnesses that should have defined this woman’s life. I was heartbroken. I felt sorry for the friend because there must have been a lot of pressure on her to reveal those things.
Then I looked back at the question-asker and my heart sank even further. Her real question had nothing to do with her friend. The question came from deep within her own heart. It was from her self-image space – how she sees herself as a human/soul combo. And in that space, there was pain. There was a belief that every person is defined by their past. Not that your past makes you who you are, but that you become your past. That you are every trauma, every unkind word, every kindergarten bully or high-school prank that was ever said or done to you. That these things were always going to be your truth. Always.
She believed, if you didn’t know about someone’s defining childhood moments, you couldn’t possibly know that someone. And, yes, it radiated outward putting a lot of pressure on her friend; but the person she was hurting the most through this belief was herself. She attached to her trauma. She attached to her abuse.
So I sat there. On the couch. With a pair of half-folded pants still sitting on my lap, a “WOW” stuck in my head, and my jaw frozen in drop-position. I, too, had defined myself by the things that happened to me in the past. I felt the pain of these events in my heart. I felt their weight and my own sadness and panic around these events. But instead of letting those vibrations continue to be my truth, I made the choice that I was going to let myself feel inspired — reinvigorated! — by this woman’s question instead: a question that dear, Prudence was still trying to answer.
In my friendships, I decided, I would be stubbornly present. That meant: watching Harry Potter, enjoying each bad joke we messaged back and forth to each other, or singing caraoke. These moments, I decided, are what friendship is really about. Our pasts don’t need to be involved in our friendships at all! In just the past few days, I’ve laughed harder, hugged longer, and enjoyed time with my friends more than I have in a very long time.
As you grow and develop new (or deeper) friendships, my challenge for you is to fill your friendships with presence. My hope is that you’ll find a different kind of deep friendship: one that appreciates all the little things and prioritizes the NOW over the drama of the past.
In other news, I hope you all your laundry gets folded (like mine did eventually).