An afternoon off for good behaviour

Yesterday I took the afternoon off work, whizzed into the city and met up with three friends. One of which I’d not seen since he left the company we worked at, almost ten months ago. Keeping up with people online is great, but to actually get a hug from someone you care about, it simply cannot be beaten. The other two crazy people I met up with I’d had lunch with a bit more recently. Although, with people you feel a huge bond, going from seeing them daily to just once or twice a year isn’t the same.

I’m very lucky with my friends, they forgive my foibles, understand that I can fall off the planet when life is crazy-busy, but when we need to see each other, we do, or email epic tomes at each other. I love that with the majority of my friendships we pick up where we left off, usually laughing, including those that have now spread around the globe; but the four of us yesterday were also joined by a common bond; struggling, which intertwines through your life far deeper than laughter ever will. Some days it was all we could do to get out of bed, but we’d cheer each other on, through texts, emails, copious amounts of coffee and phone calls after hours. Aside from the struggles we had, we also had to watch other people that we cared about under pressure too – which was really hard.

I found a quote recently ‘You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it’. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve moved house, changed jobs, started over. Time and again, I’ve walked into a new workplace and tried to find someone with a connection to buddy-up with, sometimes successfully, other times less so. Sometimes my first impressions of someone have been off the mark, and as I’ve got to know someone, I’ve been pleasantly surprised as they opened up to me. However, as Maya Angelou said, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time’ the three people I met up with yesterday have been unstinting in their support of me. I hope I’ve been as good a friend to them; shown them as much love, care and compassion, held them up when they needed it.

Heaven alone knows, life is hard enough as it is, but knowing you’ve got friends around you who will help you along the way makes everything a little bit more bearable. As will a nice cup of tea, or several gin and tonics.

Yes, the giving up alcohol thing is going really well, thanks for asking.

Mind you, I have cut down a lot on the coffee, and can’t remember the last time I had any chocolate, whoops a mini-egg last night with Peanut. I can’t remember the last time I had a lot of chocolate. I went to the gym yesterday morning, but after yet another crappy night with Peanut, I needed more sleep today. I can’t get to the gym tonight, Hubs is off to the football, (c’mon you Blues!) But I will go in the morning, what can I say, I’m a work in progress.

Sometimes (increasingly just in the past three months) I haven’t feel strong. Sometimes I wonder if I am strong enough to support the friends and family I love and care about, who are going through different crap to what Hubs and I are struggling with, everyone has their own fair share! Sometimes I need some time out from my life; yesterday gave me the chance to get stuck into reading Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy, four G&Ts and a great burger for lunch, and two and a half hours of solid laughing. Sometimes you need to stop fighting against the current and just let the stream take you where it needs to. Last week Hubs and I had a long chat over dinner, we agreed we’d stop rowing like mad against the current and relax a little, this week has been a lot easier on the nerves.

The irony of this post is not lost on me, considering I was advertising myself as being strong for other people on my business website. Maybe truly being strong is recognising when you need help? Eckhart Tolle says that enlightenment is accepting what is; you can’t change it, so learn to live with it. Yesterday I wrote about nearly being driven off the road by someone charging around desperate to get in front of me as I drove to the speed limit. People getting angry against being stuck in traffic; being morally superior to a traffic jam is a waste of energy, everyone is trying to get to work, driving like a maniac will just cause an accident. The situation we’re in at home will resolve itself in its own time, we cannot do more than we have done, so we need to sit and wait for an outcome. In the meantime, we’ll paint Peanut’s bedroom as Hubs is at home.

I’ve known my best friend for about 12 years, if not longer, as I can’t remember exactly when I met them. I can remember sitting next to them having a massive conversation about life, the universe and everything and regretfully having to get up and go back to work. I fell in love with them then, and have never really fallen out of love with them. My oldest close friends I also fell in love with through work, bonding with someone you see day in, day out is easy. Maintaining that relationship when time, space, family, life get in the way, that’s the hard part. Asking for help, or not being able to ask for help, but having a friend who sees when you are struggling and drops you a lifeline, that’s also strength. Even if you think you’ve nothing left to give, a smile and a hug, or a text or email, can get someone through a day. The three people I saw yesterday, my best friend, the rest of my coven, seeing their names in my phone or inbox, lift my mood like nothing else.

Even with all the baggage we carry around with us, if you can find time to smile at someone, check in with them, walk beside them, you’re stronger than you know.

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