So I did something different.
I asked for help.
When people (friends, not casual acquaintances or strangers...I can only go so far) asked how I was doing, I told them that I was having a bad day, instead of just putting on a fake cheery mask and saying "Oh, fine, how are you?" And you know what? They didn't gasp in horror and run away. They were caring, and empathetic, and gave good wishes. They were, in other words, true friends. I've been so cautious not to let down my guard with people, and I'm working to overcome that. Yesterday showed me that it won't be nearly as awful as I feared.
Several friends in particular stood out. Shelly, who texted and emailed with me all day, to the wee hours, until we were both doing better (she had a tangibly bad day, including loss of power at her house, getting rear-ended on the way to work, and a doctor's appointment that may end up leading to more surgery). Linda, who made a point of coming up to me at school to see what was wrong. Brenda, who in the midst of her own insanity in getting ready for the season (Sunday!!), took precious moments of time to talk with me, and give me some of her fantastic Brenda-hugs.
And two who absolutely stood out. If I was capable of crying, each of them would have easily had me in tears.
First, Wendy, who came over last night with her three kids and brought me a care basket. She knew I'd been having a rough couple of days, and she and the kids went to the store and put it all together for me, delivered it, then hung out for awhile and gave me some badly needed friend time. The "instruction sheet" said this:
"This is for you, a very special person and friend. I would like to take this time to let you know that I thank you for inviting me to sit with you on the goal line for a soccer game. You made me feel like a part of a community that I had yet to get close to. You are the first friend that I have made in [our town].
"After hearing that you did not have a good day the other day my heart went out for you. The following is what it brought back to me:
"A sleep mask for when you need to block out certain sights,
A bubble bath for when you need to relax,
Some wacky fingernail polish to make yourself feel different,
A stress ball to "squeeze" that someone is making you angry,
A bouquet of flowers to help you remember that someone always cares,
A lilac candle for the scent you like all year round,
A piece of ribbon for that time when you need to remember that baby smooth bottom of your kids when it is them that are making you angry,
A box of Kleenex for when you need to dry the eyes from anger or sadness,
And a wine cooler to help cool the whines.
"I hope that this helps out.
Thanks for being a friend,
And her kids gave me a note that said
"A PEOM [sic] FOR YOU
ROSES ARE RED
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
THE SUN IS BRIGHT
AND SO ARE YOU
FROM: MATTHEW, NIKKI AND DIANNA"
The other incredible thing was an email from someone I went to high school with. I had lost touch with him for nearly 20 years, recently re-connected with him on Facebook. He's always been very special to me, and I am so glad that we have gotten back in touch. Yesterday I sent him an email that said I'd been having a really horrible week, and could he please say something sweet. This is what I got back:
My god, I am so fortunate in my friends.
I titled this post "Reaching Out." In each of these two cases, I had reached out to these people at a time I didn't even realize they were down. I never knew (in the second friend's case, for 26 years I never knew!) how much of a big impact my little action made.
And when I was in need, when I was down, I was able to reach out to them. And I will never be able to really tell them what their actions have meant to me.
So reach out, people. Smile at a stranger. Say hi. Hold open a door. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Little things, but you'll never know when it could make all the difference. mk