friendships

exile and empty gauntlets

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It’s in the month of June when I try to go off-the-radar into self-imposed exile.

It’s in the month of August that I look back and think of all the things and projects I had hoped, in the summer downtime, that I would get done.   Decluttering office files into banker boxes at work and home, organizing kids’ drawers into piles to give away.  Staring at office space filled with junk to be transformed into workable space. Extra pounds upon my waistline from too many family poolside BBQs and campfire s’mores.  I spent a lot of time procrastinating until I reached the critical point where I had to do something; panic mode in full swing.

It can wait until later I told myself, citing that I wanted to spend quality time relaxing during the summer months; Kindle opened in-hand.

I’ll clean house next week so that I spent “quality time” with my sons; avoiding my four walls and being outdoors so I didn’t feel the guilt by looking at them.

Why cook? I questioned the hubs as I dragged him to float in the pool after long, hot days of manufacturing bolts at work.

I walked in early mornings; convincing myself that I am maintaining.   The hubs made me step on our new scale to recalibrate it.  I rarely step on scales.  But do weigh scales lie?

The bills and files piled high upon the desks; in view, to remind me to pay them.  Calgon take me away.

My bad mood permeated my Sunday; exacerbated by my guilt of procrastination.  My summer exile had me disengage from everything.  This has been a recent development after people began to disappoint and life became too absorbed doing things for others that didn’t fill my cup.  Usually an optimist seeing my cup as half-full, I began to only feel the emptiness.   And so I went into exile in my tiny bubble.  I sat still allowing myself the time to absorb the bitter pill; taking stock of the things in my life that I needed to re-evaluate.   To forgive.  To let things go.  The hubs, flummoxed by my dour face, finally asked what was wrong with me; to which I replied, I think I don’t like people.   A strong statement from my extrovert self.

I grabbed the cup and swallowed with lots of water; trying to flush away the bitterness in my mouth.  I float away all thoughts, on top of it, in eves in the pool; continuing to empty my cup and drink from the well that never satisfies.  I’m throwing down the gauntlet.  The random but timely email from my childhood girlfriend, a teacher,  says it exactly. 

I’m going back to the dark side…the Ultra Responsible Adult life…gotta run!!

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Reality check.  It’s time to return, to do something about it.  The hubs’ words stung but always ring true.  I appreciated his transparency and concern.  The priest sermoned about eating and drinking from the cup, to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.  Amidst the applause of the congregation my mind rallied, I’m really working on it Lord, trust me…I’m trying.  Right now I’m not feeling it.

I’ve always imagined that clarity comes in beautiful, quiet settings.  But I have experienced many of those things, this summer, and its soothing balms temporarily worked until my return to the every day.  I used music and books to escape the thoughts that churned in my mind; holding me captive.  I physically moved through each morning and night; the routines and ritual comfortable and mundane.   And I’ve revisited the past full circle; returning to the present with childhood and current friends and family alongside.   I must change my mindset.  To remember and believe that people are GOOD.  I am my own worst enemy.

After a year of laying low I am ready to return to the land of the living; to expect good in others instead of questioning motives.   The serene setting happened to be a noisy and packed high school MPR.  Parents worked alongside, fitting uniforms on 239 members of my son’s high school marching band.  After years of parent involvement in my sons’ elementary school I had no intention of serving in other organizations that usurped my time away from our business and family.   I worked alongside the mom who dragged me into the fray; the extra hands needed in an organization so large.  Hours were spent snapping buttons and fitting lengths and when the water was offered, I drank it and felt refreshed.

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I’ve always known that it is in service where my true love lies; my only way to contribute is with time.  It was only when my vision was clouded with thoughts of impressing others or self-affirmation; selfish things, that prevented me from seeing the reasons to why I served.  It used to be that I wanted to be away from the walls of my home, to seek others’ approval; unhappy in transitioning in life on many levels.  My summer of exile only delayed the inevitable.  I’ve realized that I must reside amongst people.  To interact with them.  To immerse myself and navigate amongst them.

It is in relationships that life is lived. 

In twenty-six years of business we know our customers and understand their custom and unique needs.  It is why they remain loyal as our outreach extends beyond our four walls to places beyond where we could have ever imagined.  In a world where price drives markets, customer loyalty is built with relationships.  And so it goes with friendships.  In a world where acquaintances may come and go, transparency and authenticity strengthens the ties that bind.  History is the random variable that can sometimes cloud perspective.  Just because you’ve known someone for a long time doesn’t mean that person is a good friend; the one that continually sips from your cup but doesn’t pour anything back into it.

This month I was forced out of exile; to find my way amongst people once again.

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The one-year old baby was proof of the passage of time.  The last time I had seen my two childhood girlfriends, whom I’ve known since aged nine and eleven, together was at the latter one’s baby shower.  She connected me to the present; the endless hours listening to music and playing on piano keyboards to one of our fave bands at the time, Depeche Mode.  She is the one who remains friends with those from the past; the keeper of knowledge via Facebook.  It is with this same band that, years later, the bff and I were separated in a throng of people and through sheer luck found one another.  And I later attended their concert with the girlfriend from age nine, the bff and the girlfriend I’ve known since aged four.  History.  It is overwhelming.  I am thankful these women have, over the decades, remained and continue to walk milestones with me.

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The traveling girlfriend returned and spontaneously was in my area; months of words unspoken exchanged from our lips.  I sat with my “queens” watching Magic Mike XXL; the hoots of laughter shared in a crowded theater, full.    The early morning walks continue to maintain as better food choices and portion sizes are assessed before annual check-ups.  I rediscover the treadmill purchased over Christmas and decided to step on the scale only on Mondays.

The hubs and I fight for counter space as we plan meals for teens and the ten-year old; providing healthy, non-processed foods to fill their tummies.  Organization returns as the piles of bills are alphabetized and ready to be filed; the next thing on my to-do list.  The empty office space now looms with possibilities.  The stuffed closets and drawers filled garbage bags to donate to our booster organization; raising money for our high school band program.  My girlfriend concocts homemade cocktails and I sit by the backyard fire.

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The drinks keep coming, brimming full.  I take my portion and fill my cup.

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