Shattered Dream

 

Early in life, she had her future figured out. She would get the honourable degree, connect with a man with similar credentials, build a family, build a career, live well and happily ever after, just like the princesses in her childhood books. Expectations all around her were high.

 

What she did not prepare for was failure. She built no exit door leading to other options, other hopes, other dreams. No Plan B.

 

She got the degrees; got her plaque; got her man and created a family. They lived in a huge house in an affluent neighbourhood. From the outside, the garden looked fabulous.

 

After a decade of holding on to her dream and hearing the high expectations of her parents, her husband and other elders ringing through her head, she slowly began to feel lonely and all alone. The life was a farce; it really was not hers, it was someone else’s. The career was not what it was cut out to be; the husband was too busy, too tired, too disinterested. The children had grown up and lived elsewhere. She felt lonely and very alone in her quickly changing world.

 

Late in life is a difficult time to take a sharp right turn, back track and do things differently. Building up friendships, for example, is not something that you can suddenly do, especially not when you have no life experience with the phenomenon.  But, for her, it was time to move forward and full steam ahead she went. She may have tripped, but she had not fallen.

 

One day, the lawyer surrounded herself with every person she knew by name and introduced them to each other as her friends. As I circulated the room at one of the first of these gatherings to which I was invited, I discovered that many people in the room did not really know her, had only met her once or twice, and did not know anyone else in the room. It was the most bizarre social I had been to in a long while. I felt like I was at a convention, a meet and greet convention, with an agenda designed by the host to portray happiness.

 

Behind the façade, I could see and feel the sadness, and I felt so very sad for her. How sad it must be to go through life virtually friendless and then try to start from scratch without life experience to get something that most others have had for decades – casual friends, good friends and buddies.

 

The socializing goal of that first and other such gatherings, worked for me instantly. To this day, I am still friends with many of those interesting people – the real genuine people; not the gossipy socialite types who tangle with one another to see who has the most hot news about the latest who have fallen from grace.  I have no time for them and they are not worthy of my time. 

 

Life therapists would likely remind you that it is never too late to try new things; but, sometimes later in life, it takes a lot more work to make it happen.

 

Friendship is like a great job or a successful marriage – it takes practice; it takes commitment; it takes attentiveness through good times and not so good. It is a phenomenon that does not just happen in a room with a bunch of strangers – it is a recipe of ingredients that blend together and stick together well. You gather the ingredients, figure out what they all are, learn how to work with them, replenish them and freshen them up, to ensure excellence is maintained until your last breath.

 

Knowing a person by name does not make that person a friend, but it is a good start. Being a source or a subject of gossip does not make that person a friend. Being taken for granted, used, abused, set aside or ignored when inconvenient, does not make that person a friend. A name is nothing without a good heart to go with it.

 

A friend is not a viper or untrustworthy. 

A friend is not a stranger, acquaintance or enemy. 

A friend is not a transformer.

A friend is compassionate, caring and understanding.

A friend guides, helps and protects you.

A friend is your confident and loves you unconditionally.

 

The point of this commentary is that we have all been given a lifespan to live life to its fullest, with honour and respect for ourselves and for others. That life includes challenges and we drive ourselves to meet those challenges head on with confidence and pride. We draw strength from the real friends in our lives -- real friends are few and far between and they don't come by the busloads. They are not just names in a room or timeslots on a schedule – they are your role models who pick you up when you fall and stand by you through thick and thin, through good times and not so good.

 

I want to share an interesting [modified] quote I got from a true friend the other day:

 

It has been said that everlasting friends can go long periods of time without speaking, and never question their friendship. These types of friends pick up like they just spoke yesterday, regardlesss of how long it has been or how far away they live. They willingly put their own lives on hold to reach out to help you in your hour or hours of need, and expect nothing in return except happiness for you. 

 

Pick up a Dr. Christiane Northrup book to learn more about this type of shattered dream therapy as a means to better strengthen and protect the mental health of the person who matters most: YOU.