The friend I’d arranged to meet that day never showed up. A message to say she was running late and then I suppose she decided not to bother at all, because there I was following my toddler around the park two hours later; and there she was on Facebook, updating everyone about where she’d been instead.
If several arrangements with other friends hadn’t been cancelled during the last few weeks, I might not have cried. They had very valid reasons and I knew it wasn’t personal, but there’s always that fear – am I just not worth the effort?
I might have held it together if I didn’t remember being twelve years old and publicly uninvited to Joy Baker’s birthday party, because her mother had said sorry, only 20 children when there were 21 in our class. If I couldn’t recall the thousand other times in this fractured life I’d been too much or not enough; if every rejection hadn’t burned into my heart, branding me unwanted, I might not have cried.
But that day, drained of the energy to try anymore, I did.
Have you been here too, a wave of pain solidifying into bitterness? Our heavy hurt can form bricks, willing us to build high, defensive walls. Barricaded in, we’re safe aren’t we? Where no one can touch us, we can’t be hurt.
One Wednesday morning before cold crept in, desperate to escape this current loneliness, I made my way into a park full of other mothers and their everywhere children. Making conversation does not come naturally to me, but I said actual words to real-life people and then they replied. There were no kindred spirit moments and I didn’t walk away with a friend for life, but every friendship formed has to start somewhere.
Every choice to keep reaching out is a foundation laid.
The weather has turned now and there’s a magic about the hotpots and gloves and fairy lights; there’s something so wonderful about wrapping your hands around a mug of hot chocolate while the sky looms grey, framed by a frosty window. And I want to share it – to extend an invite to share gingerbread and hours and laughter with another. I don’t want to fashion walls to keep others out. I want to open up my home and my heart.
Friendship takes courage. We risk rejection. But what if, deep breath and jumbled words, we try again?
Be bold enough to tear down walls, lay foundations and brick on brick, strengthen one another from the ground up.
Reach out brave and try again.
Have you ever found yourself in a period of loneliness? Have past hurts left you afraid to reach out? What steps could you take to connect with others?