One of the tough things about being a mama to a six week old is the isolation. It’s pretty much me and the little booger alone during the day. H is off at work for 14 hours sometimes and I don’t have any new mama friends who are at home right now. Though I’m an introverted person I do crave connection. After a particularly bad day when the baby wouldn’t stop crying (she’d gotten her immunizations, poor babe) I had a melt down. It was more like an emotional tsunami…
The very next day with a slightly calmer heart, I went to a new moms group. I had found the group the week before and although I hate being new at things and I also get really uncomfortable interacting with groups of people my desperation pushed me through the door. The first week I sat back and listened getting the lay of the land. There were a lot of really friendly mamas there who I’d like to get to know. But I struggled to figure out how to make that first connection or take the first step.
Well it turns out the secret is crying, hah. I was so on edge from my emotional melt down the night before that when it came to my turn to talk during the group I lost it. I started crying when I talked about the isolation and the difficulties of navigating the relationship with your partner when your family becomes three. I was tempted to feel embarrassed, but I so desperately needed to talk honestly and have someone hear me that I kept going. I was amazed at the response. All I got from this room full of women that I didn’t know was compassion and understanding, nodding heads and sympathetic eyes. Many validated how I was feeling and had suggestions for finding more connection and support during the day.
By letting my guard down I let these women see the real me and opened myself up for genuine connection. In the past I would’ve made it seem like I had it all together and that I’m doing great, staying on the surface. I’d be disappointed after those interactions because people wouldn’t often remember me or even notice me. Now though, when I run into these moms in the neighborhood or at a mom and baby class, they say hi, they know my name. I let them see some of my struggle so they stepped up and said I see you and I’m here too. It’s a promising start and I’m learning, finally, how to make friends.
I needed a little pick me up this morning, a reminder that dreams come true, love can be had, and wonderful things happen all the time. The movie Enchanted April was the perfect salve for my raw feelings. Somehow I managed to find this movie long ago, before I found the book. I’ve watched this movie often enough that I know it by heart, but not too often that it doesn’t stir me each time I see it. The story revolves around four women in London in the 1920’s who decide to abandon the dreary city and spend a month in a villa in Tuscany. All strangers, they come together and each opens her heart over the course of their stay. The magic found in the place, the reawakening of love and dreams, the stories of the four women all make it one of my favorites.
Admission: I have no good friends. It would be great if you could just, you know, pretend to be surprised about this fact.
I had a pity party for myself on my birthday a few weeks ago about this very thing. My husband might describe it a touch less gently as complete and total nuclear meltdown. All this clearing out stuff I talked about though, it’s led to more doing.
After I cried my eyes out, I asked myself what I should do about making friends. Instead of Facebooking, I texted an acquaintance to get sushi out of the blue. I set up a dinner with some women who seemed pretty wonderful that I’m taking a Hebrew class with. I was shocked at how easy it was and that everyone responded really enthusiastically. Everything I was afraid of – that no one would respond, that people would think it was a stupid idea… none of it happened. (You may have this unnerving sense that you’re all of the sudden reading the blog of a 12 year old girl.. Rest assured, still me. My social skills, however, have not evolved past sixth grade.)
I put myself out on a limb, exposed myself, and felt all vulnerable and all that yuckiness. But that discomfort was all worth it. It led to a few really fun nights. Taking small steps, doing little things, ended up making me feel so much better. I remembered that I had the ability to change my circumstances again. It was awesome.
What do I want? I want a tribe of women. A group of women who know me, who see me, who I feel comfortable with. Real friends, who really love me, who help hold each other up. I’m working my way there step by step.
Update: I also started reading MWF seeks BFF to get a little more perspective on this whole making friends thing and I’m pretty excited about it so far! Will post a review when I’m done.