This Friend I Know

Starting a post at 11:30pm is never a good idea, but inspiration is not known for being timely. So here I go.

I’ve been thinking all day about this friend I know.

It’s not a new friend, but it’s someone I haven’t treated like a friend lately. Or ever, perhaps. I started thinking about her this morning.

We had some family in town, and I was doing my best to be a gracious and put-together hostess (even though these were probably the easiest-going house guests one could ever have).  So, of course I was worried about the normal hostess things like my house being a mess and what do I offer them to drink and shoot, sorry I’m out of regular coffee, now you won’t be able to function thanks to me. I do love having people in my house, don’t get me wrong. But I have major performance anxiety about it.  I’m always second guessing myself in this situation. Am I entertaining them enough? Am I leaving them alone enough? Do my towels smell clean?  I’m so judgemental of myself in this position.

I have always felt that although I love having people over, I despise hosting. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but the only way I can untangle this thought is by guessing that since I like helping people and doing things for others, welcoming people into your home is a positive, people-pleasing move.  That same people-pleasing tendency, however, can get wound up so tightly in perfection that you feel the responsibility of this pleasing business squeezing all the air right out of you.

I relayed this insecure perspective to someone the other day, while I was going on about how excited I was to have everyone over to our house in a couple of weeks for a party, but how I was already starting to get crazy-eyed over all the crap I have to do to get my house looking absolutely perfect. You’re home is so warm and welcoming! You have nothing to worry about! I went on to explain my theory of “house anorexia”: that I have a distorted image of how my house looks and it will never look good enough. This is obviously not as serious of a disorder, but it’s still disheartening. Such a shallow, first-world problem, I know. I hate even wasting thoughts on this as I read it back. But sadly, I know I’m not alone in this shallow trap of superficial suburban comparison. There’s so much good in my life, and I’m worried about my role as a domestic goddess? Tisk, tisk. 

Anyway, this was all brought to light this morning as I was apologizing again to my house guest about the mess. I was in the laundry room making sure she was able to switch over her laundry okay.

Sorry it’s such a mess! I grumbled with a bit of an eye-roll.

Don’t worry about it! It’s just a laundry room! She smiled at me.

It’s just a laundry room. 

I went back to put a smidge of make-up on, and ruminated over all the times I had apologized about stupid things that morning. Apologized about the coffee. Apologized about the kids being loud. About having not enough variety of breakfast food. About being a mess. About being a terrible mom for not making my kids lunches the night before (ok, so this happens pretty much every morning).

Pretty much everything I did was followed by an apology.

Why am I doing this? What am I apologizing for?! I stared at myself in the mirror for a minute. Then I stopped.  I started over.

Hi there, I said to myself, silently. How are you? You look nice today! And what a great house you have! So warm and welcoming. You are so gracious to have people stay with you. You are doing a great job. 

Just like that, the weight lifted. I was as light as air. I felt a pang of confidence and reassurance in my veins. Simply by being a good friend…to myself. 

I know I mentioned in my last post about how thought distortions can really shape who we are in our daily lives. Our thoughts can be so deeply hidden in our subconscious, however, that it can be difficult to unmask them. But this morning they were loud and clear.

I’m not good enough. Im a failure. Im not worthy. 

I didn’t just hear the words as I moped around apologizing, I felt them, heavy like a lead blanket, crushing me under it’s weight. That is, until I made my new friend.

The way we talk to ourselves is so harsh sometimes. Would you ever talk to a friend that way? Of course not! When you stop and change the perspective around a bit, it can be shockingly profound. We worry so much about pleasing others, about being a good friend, yet we go around talking to ourselves like the scum of the earth.

Take care how you speak to yourself, because you are listening. 

How can such a simple concept be so difficult? No wonder I have anxiety issues; look how I talk to myself. I’m my own worst enemy, my harshest critic, bound by the chains of perfection. All the while, I’m missing out on the good. Fretting about trivial imperfections while this beautiful life is happening right in front of me.
That’s why I’m trying something new. I’m going to be a good friend…to myself. This sounds so corny, I know. But I’m not sure if I’ve ever been a friend to myself. And this is the most important friendship I think I could ever have. It’s way, way overdue.

It will take some time to build our friendship. We have a lot of ground to cover, and lots of catching up to do. But it’s time to make an effort.

This special friend is so, so worth it.

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