Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

There used to be trouble in my friendships. They never seemed to flow easily. I felt it necessary to be a relationship accountant, keeping track of who gave what to whom, how much, and how frequently. If it didn't all balance out I had a neurotic compulsion to fix it! Fix it now!

The calculating approach was dictated by my fears. Fear of being alone, fear of being rejected, fear of people being mad at me, fear of giving too much, fear of getting too close, fear of being perceived as clingy, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of being perceived as distant, and some plain old-fashioned shyness to boot. There was a very small comfort zone between Too Much Closeness and Too Much Distance. It was like walking on a tightrope.

It didn't help that I gravitated towards socially awkward introverts like myself. They had many of the same fears as me. I knew that "normal" people experienced friendship as something organic and basically comfortable. My friendships were sometimes very rewarding, sometimes stilted and difficult. And no matter how often I saw my friends, I was always unsatisfied. I always felt fundamentally lonely.

This state of affairs went on for years. Hundreds of hours of individual and group therapy made some holes in my armour, but couldn't go much further than that.

Then I found faith and started going to church. And I can't explain why, because it's not that I suddenly have dozens of new church-going friends, but since then I've changed.

I only have a couple of new friends that I met at church, with whom I spend time less than once a month. They're not responsible for this change. All I can attribute it to is this: I prayed to God to come into my heart and make me a more loving, fearless person. And He did.

I'm not keeping track of my friendships like I used to. I just let them happen. If sometimes I give more than I receive for a while, or vice versa, that's OK. If we go for months without speaking before we reconnect, that's OK too. I have the same number of friends as I ever did, but I never feel lonely anymore. I'm satisfied.

I'm not conscious of having changed visibly, but I must be giving off different cues. People seem to be more attracted to me than before. Friends who were once lukewarm are now enthused about spending time together. The kidoodles in Babyland are talking to me more and asking to be held. I've even noticed that I'm getting more flirty attention from men.

I look the same. I haven't been shopping for a new wardrobe. I'm not standing up straighter or walking with a wiggle. This change seems to be like a light that came on inside of me. I became more transparent, and people are attracted to the light. But even then I feel that it's not really about me. It's God. The glow is coming from that place in my heart where I invited God to come in and stay awhile. So I'd better stay humble. I don't want to ever lose this light.

12 comments:

whatigotsofar said...

You know, they say the day you stop walking with a wiggle is the day you become old.

Okay, I've never heard anybody say that. I just came up with it right now. But I think that walking with a wiggle is something only a person young of mind would do, and I don't want to grow up (still a Toys R Us kid, right) and the people around me (even cyberpeople), well, I want them to stay young too.

unsigned said...

Enjoy the light.

Scarlet said...

This post is awesome!

I've been noticing the same kind of thing in myself lately...for a few years now. I was never all that shy, but I'm more self confident and compassionate now and I think people are more drawn to me.

It's definitely a God thing; nothing I've done on my own. He gives us that light, that confidence, and it's a beautiful thing to see in ourselves and recognize in others.

Kate said...

In AA, one of our traditions is "attraction, not promotion." Especially for people who knew us in our drinking days. We are not to "promote" AA and become it's greatest champion. We are to live this spiritual life and if we're doing the deal, people are attracted to the program. It is the same with your newfound love. People see it in you. And that's when you know you're doing the deal and letting Him shine through you.

jameil1922 said...

Amen!! I love it! That is too great!! Friendships have always been easy for me but I did have a long period (at least 10 yrs) where I expected to be talked to for hours each week or I got an attitude. I still feel annoyed if I feel like my phone calls are being ignored but I try to get over that b/c it's just one person and I know her incessant phone issues.

LL Cool Joe said...

Well God has been in my life for so many years now, so maybe his spirit does shine out of me. Once he can get past the bling. ;)


Anyway, enjoy your new found confidence. :)

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Sometimes the subtlest of changes have the largest impact. I'm glad you looked within instead of expecting the world around you to change.

Karen said...

It is all about confidence, attitude and what you put out in the world. Your faith has given you that ability.

I am so happy for you.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I was wondering what that sparkling glow was I saw coming from the north. I thought it might be the aurora borealis, but now I think it's you.

Sparkling Red said...

WIGSF: Don't you worry about that! I will never grow old in my mind. It's not possible, even if I try.
I'll keep wiggling if you'll keep wiggling. ;-)

Unsigned: *chorus of angels*

Scarlet: I know it's true because I'm not doing anything more than what I was trying to do all those years when I was in therapy. I just wasn't able to let go of my fears by myself. Now they're melting away.

Kate: That's a very wise strategy. I try to walk a fine line between sharing my experiences and "selling" them to others. I get an awkward vibe if I'm being too forward with someone- then I'll pull right back.

Jameil: Some friendships will always be challenging. I have some bumps along the road that might never change, but the friendships are still valuable.

LL Cool Joe: If Eastern Orthodox churches are any measure of the truth, God LOVES bling. :-)

Nilsa: I gave up on the world a few years back, bitterly, before I found this new path. It's been a slow process, but well worth the wait.

Sparkling Red said...

Karen: Thank you! :-)

Ron: Aw, that's so sweet... :-)

Jenski said...

That's wonderful! I bet the color of your aura changed. I'm not being facetious either. I'm serious. I'm glad life has settle in comfortably for you!