This month I’m participating in #reverb10. Every day a new prompt is issued and I will write my response. The goal is to reflect on 2010 and manifest what’s next in 2011. Want to learn more? Visit www.reverb10.com.
I'm 2 5 days behind, so I'm playing catch-up!
Prompt: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
When I was at my heaviest weight, I was really down and out. In addition to having a negative perception of myself, I also had a negative perception of others. I had built a wall up around myself to not want to rely on anyone. I didn't want anyone to know me because it would only give them the opportunity to make fun of me or tear me down. Avoidance was my defense of choice, and I didn't meet anyone new, or try to foster the relationships with those who I did know. My insider circle consisted of 3-4 people, and anything more than that was uncomfortable.
This year, however, I learned to open up. By sharing my words through the safety of a computer, I was met with kindness and empathy by both strangers and those who I may have known in my past that came across the blog in other ways. Even old high school friends I haven't seen in 10 years have stopped by to cheer me on. Strangers have come too. As have friends of friends. Or friends of readers who are now friends. It's amazing really.
One day after I posted my 101 in 1001 list, I got an email from a stranger. She said she had a boat, and could help me with that item on my list. I thought she was crazy. I asked Trainer Rob about her, and he knew her and had nothing but positive things to say. But really, my skeptical mind thought, who is this stranger who would email me and tell me I could ride on their boat to help me cross off that item on my list?
When I saw her at the gym, I thought “oh gosh, she's going to judge me.” She was pretty and very athletic and strong. I was red and sweaty and a relative blob of fat. Or so my mind said to itself. She was perfectly pleasant. I still held on to my skepticism after a life at 455 pounds.
I announced I was going to do a 5K. She was one of the first people to commit to doing it with me. She timed me while I struggled through it. She was Trainer Rob's assistant, helping count down my intervals. She has run a marathon before, why is she doing this relative stroll of a 5K with me? She has better ways to spend a Saturday, I'm sure.
Then one day she invited me to Keeneland (horse race track) with her friends. “But why?” I asked myself. I struggled to find the confidence to re-introduce myself to the world of new friends in a social situation which is already a little overwhelming (Everyone at Keeneland is always dressed super cute and my confidence wasn't there yet). I ended up having even greater reservations about trying to restrict my alcohol and calories for the event, so I backed out.
She wasn't deterred though. She asked me to a girls night with her friends at her house. She had everyone bring a healthy dish to share. I went. I had fun. All of a sudden, invisible shield under my skin has started to deteriorate. Even more? Her friend I met that night proceeded to invite me to a party she was having, and she then proceeded to wrote quite possibly the single-most-tear-inducing comment on my blog recently. I couldn't go to the party due to a scheduling conflict, but it has completely taught me this about friendship:
There is no need to hide from new friendships. Despite what I may have thought, most people are inherently nice. Most people will give you the benefit of the doubt. Most people will reciprocate kindness with kindness – you just have to let them.
As a side note, this new friend is leaving for a mission to Haiti in a couple of weeks. If you want to contribute to her fundraising efforts, you can do so here. She didn't ask me to share this (or even has been warned I'm writing this as it just came to me) but I want to help support her as she has supported me.