the greatest gift

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
E. E. Cummings

image via Piccsy

How does one follow up with a post such as my last? My soul-bearing, self-exposing, personal post that leaves me feeling vulnerable and naked... Post three children naked, not young-sprite-taut twenty-something naked... Do I jump right back into a post about fashion? Perhaps a lovely piece on interior decor? I could showcase my favorite summer finds... I could... but it just doesn't seem right. I need to follow up with something more organic... something that would flow naturally... something equally personal... something uplifting. I thought I might want to follow up with the power of friendship.

When you start to tell your friends that your life is not all as it seems, that you are unhappy, that the image of the wholesome and happy family is just that, an image, you know that some will support you and some will not. It is to be expected. I expected this. What I did not expect was the overwhelming support and empathy. I never expected to feel the love and admiration of those near and dear to me. I never expected it to be so powerful. I had just one friend ask me "Are you sure, Jess?" And when I replied, "Absolutely, Positively." She told me that she would be there for me. When I delivered the news most replied with "I'm so very sorry." I told them "Don't be." It's all for the best, I explained. And while still in the throws of this complicated and complex journey, I know that in the end it will all be for the best. And this is what I am told from those who survive this. One woman, who is becoming a dear friend, congratulated me upon hearing the news. She was my only congratulations. She had been where I am. She was where I am a long time ago. She has since found her rainbow and her pot of gold, her husband and three children.

I have had wonderful advice and support and words of encouragement.  I am amazed that I have heard nothing negative. Amazed. I am a strong woman, people tell me. I am starting to believe this. I am starting to see strength and courage I never knew I had. This will make me a stronger person, a better person, people tell me. I am starting to see this too.

My friends have been there with me through thick and thin. Never have they backed away, shied away. In fact, when I need them the most they seem to all be there. All of them. Every single one of them. And honestly this both surprises and amazes me. I am grateful. Eternally grateful.

I came across a quote from a friend's Facebook page the other day. It was so good I had to use it as my own. It is perfect. "A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles." And if this is indeed true, then I have already traveled far. I also feel that I must have done something right, because, after all, had I not been a good person and loyal friend myself, my friends would not be half as supportive as they are.

I am a quiet and yet outgoing person. I need my quiet times to reflect and think and soak everything in. But my louder, sillier side needs to entertain and be entertained. To love and feel loved. To laugh and make others laugh... I need my quiet time to think about my life and contemplate... to ponder and plan. I need my social life to bring those plans to fruition.

If not for my friends I sometimes wonder whether I would really have the strength to go through this bumpy journey. I have no desire to turn back, but admittedly, sometimes I just want to stop dead in my tracks. But I don't.  I know I can't but I know also, that my friends won't let me. I've come this far. I've come so far...

My friends tell me and remind me of things that I do not hear at home. They tell me that I am funny and witty and smart. They tell me that I am determined and strong. They tell me that I am talented. They tell me that I am beautiful. They tell me that I am a good person. They tell me that I am a good friend. They tell me that they admire my positive attitude and my sunny smile. There is nothing more powerful, more empowering than to hear someone call you smart, funny, beautiful, talented, caring, special, strong... These small words carry with them such impact. These small words mean the world to me and never go unappreciated. How I treasure these small words. There is truly nothing as wonderful as the gift of friendship.