But then my friend’s circumstances changed and she moved away, putting half an ocean between us. Instead of having her physically close, she joined my inner circle of faraway friends.
And life went on. Emptier than it was before, but busyness fills whatever space is leftover, even the lonely ones.
But when the hot water heater at my home broke on a Friday before Presidents’ Day weekend, I realized how alone I was – I didn't feel comfortable asking anyone I knew in my neighborhood if I could use their shower.
All of my close girlfriends lived far away.
It took eight days to get a new hot water heater, due to the holiday weekend, mistakes, and missing parts. Each morning, as I stood in my cold bathroom taking a makeshift shower using pots of hot water that had been heated up on the stove and lugged upstairs, I missed having close girlfriends nearby. I missed the comfort of a true friendship where I could just pop into a girlfriend’s home with a towel over my arm, throwing my friend a carefree, friendly wave on my way to use her shower.
I was lonely for nearby friends.
I didn't set a goal to change this, exactly. It felt a little forced to say something like I’ll have three new friends by the end of the year. And I knew that needed to happen was more personal than changing my external circumstances – I had to change in order to make new friends.
I pretend to be extroverted but I’m really more like a turtle. When I’m feeling nervous or uncomfortable, I disappear, leaving only the shell of my social self behind. And my social self, (which is my outer polished personality that keeps people from seeing my soft, squishy, emotional parts on the inside), has no talent for making deep friendships.
Instead of disappearing into my familiar turtle shell, I talked to people in dance class, at my sons’ school, and in my moms groups. I took mindful (what some would call cautious) steps to develop friendships and not hide when I felt too vulnerable. Little by little, I created my community.
I have a full menagerie of friends now, more in my neighborhood than ever before. It took many turtle steps to find them, much more than I expected. But those many steps have led me to what I wished for years ago: a community where I belong and where I’m blessed with support – which might look like a borrowed shower and always feels like being showered with love.
What do you wish for? If you’d like to discover your inner longing – and make a creative, inspirational road map to fulfill it – sign up for one of my Vision Board workshops in January. It’s a great way to launch the New Year - and build your hometown tribe, too. For details, visit thewellcraftedmom.com.